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Flach eyes downtown improvements

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    The interior of one of the buildings on South River Street that developer Aaron Flach is looking to renovate.
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    Developer Aaron Flach has purchased several buildings on South River Street in Coxsackie and has plans to renovate them into a banquet hall, hotel, apartments and storefronts.
April 9, 2019 10:02 pm

COXSACKIE — Local developer Aaron Flach is looking to do a major overhaul of a big portion of downtown Coxsackie, bringing an event center, hotel and other businesses to South River Street.

Flach presented his proposal to the Coxsackie Village Board at its April meeting Monday, requesting a letter of support for the South River Street Redevelopment Project.

“There are four phases to the project,” Flach told the board. “We will start with the old Becker Speaker Factory down at the far end, the long green building on the waterfront. We will rent it out for various purposes. The obvious would be weddings, but also for other things.”

For the four-phase project, Flach has purchased four buildings on South River Street, which sit on six acres along more than 600 feet of Hudson River shoreline. Flach did not purchase The Yellow Deli and the former firehouse owned by the village, also on South River Street.

The entire project is expected to take about four years to complete, according to documents outlining the plan. The four buildings include a 12,000-square-foot restaurant/bar/banquet hall, a 20,000-square-foot hotel, 3,500 square feet of additional commercial space with 10 high-end apartments, and 3,000 square feet of retail storefronts for small businesses. The plan also includes the installation of docks and a kayak launch on the waterfront.

The cornerstone of the project is the banquet hall, which Flach has dubbed The Wire, naming it after the former State Wire and Cable company that was housed there years ago.

“It’s right on the waterfront so our intention is to renovate the building, maintaining the modern industrial look of the structure,” Flach said. “On the back end, there are the old loading docks, there is a steel building. We will take all the metal panels off and that will be a glass atrium.”

The event center will also have a prep kitchen for catering, and a second-story room will be converted to a bridal suite where the bridal party can be stationed prior to receptions.

“The whole idea is to promote tourism and economic development in downtown,” Flach said. “We want to bring people there that have never been there before and have them spend money, hang out and eat at local restaurants.”

Flach also wants to capitalize on the antique shops, restaurants, galleries and other businesses across the river.

“There is an incredible amount of activity in Hudson with boutique hotels and all sorts of things happening there. A lot of these people are coming here from the city on weekends,” Flach said.

But, he added, Coxsackie has a unique waterfront along the Hudson River.

“You can go from Albany to New York City and not find a nicer riverfront than what we have,” Flach said. “There are no oil tanks, no train tracks, no ugly components to our waterfront. We need to unlock the potential, and that is what we are going for.”

Phase 2 of the project would focus on renovating a brick building on South River Street.

“Basically, we will take the roof off the building, add a couple of stories, and that will be a 40-room boutique hotel,” he said. “My bet is that if we can attract people here based on our riverfront and the quaintness of our downtown, they will want to stay for the weekend.”

The third phase will restore the building commonly known as “the dress factory” and turn it into a brew pub or restaurant, Flach said. He would identify an entrepreneur who would lease the space and run it as a business that would be complementary to the boutique hotel.

The fourth and final phase involves other storefronts concentrated on what is known locally as “the Dolan block.”

“We would have 10 really high-end apartments on the second and third floors, and restore the storefronts on the first floor and lease them out to businesses,” Flach said. “Anything that will enhance downtown is what we are looking to do.”

Flach this week also signed a contract to purchase the former bar Patrick Henry’s. He said he doesn’t have plans yet for that site, but it would complement the other businesses he wants to bring to the area.

Village Trustee Stephen Hanse asked the timetable for the project.

“The goal for The Wire, which is the event center, is to wrap it up by the end of this year so we can begin booking it out for events by spring of next year,” Flach said, adding that he would also offer to host the Coxsackie Farmer’s Market, which is held once a week in the warmer months in the park, on inclement weather days, at no charge.

Flach did not specify a cost for the project, but said it would be pricey. The letter of support he was seeking from the village board was to support his application to the state for a $2 million grant to help cover the costs.

Flach said he sees big potential for downtown Coxsackie.

“I am seeing a very significant change — there are a lot of new faces here every weekend, they are taking selfies in front of these old buildings,” Flach said. “They are coming up from downstate because they want something out of the fray of the craziness. They want to come up here for a Norman Rockwell kind of downtown. They want those kinds of experiences.”

The Coxsackie Village Board agreed to write a letter to the state in support of the project.

“I am really glad to see there is someone who is so willing to invest in the village of Coxsackie,” Village Trustee Donald Daoust said. “I appreciate this endeavor.”

Mayor Mark Evans hopes the project will boost tourism while not adding a burden to necessary village services.

“This is perfect because we are not adding strain on the infrastructure,” Evans said. “I would love to see some population added, but we are not adding kids to the schools and creating a cost. This is people coming up and enjoying themselves, spending money, and then heading back. This is fabulous.”