$10M rehab for Coxsackie

Liana Lekocevic/For Columbia-Greene MediaDeveloper Aaron Flach is completing a multi-million dollar renovation project on South River Street in downtown Coxsackie, beginning with the former Becker Electronics building. Work is expected to begin in late winter or early spring of this year.

COXSACKIE — A local developer is planning a $10 million rehabilitation of a portion of downtown Coxsackie — and that is just Phase 1.

Developer Aaron Flach owns most of the buildings on South River Street in the downtown area, and has plans for a boutique hotel, event center, restaurants and more.

Construction is expected to begin in late winter or early spring of this year.

The buildings have been vacant for years. Phase 1 will include renovations to the former Becker Electronics building and the long green structure behind it. Flach received a $2 million grant from the state to cover a portion of the Phase 1 construction. The total cost of renovating the two buildings is expected to be just over $10 million, he said.

“The grant is to rehab those two buildings,” Flach said. “The front office building will be a 40-room boutique hotel called The Newbury. The grant is $2 million and it is through the REDC — Regional Economic Development Council — which is part of the state Economic Development Program. They award around $750 million each year to economic development projects.”

The second building, located behind the former electronics building, would be renovated into an event center called The Wire, which would be rented for weddings, corporate events, large meetings and the like.

Flach said the project is geared toward stimulating tourism in the area with an eye toward maximizing use of Coxsackie’s riverfront. His ultimate goal is to encourage customers of the hotel and event center to utilize resources on the other side of the river, in Hudson, such as antique shops, retailers and restaurants.

“We are working towards developing a potential water taxi service that would go back and forth from Hudson to our location. I am working with a couple of tour boat operators,” Flach said. “Ideally, we would like to see people coming up on the train for the weekend, maybe grab dinner in Hudson, take the boat across the river, and stay in our hotel and enjoy a couple of days in Coxsackie and Greene County, and then head back down, and not have to worry about a car. We want to create a walkable community.”

Coxsackie Mayor Mark Evans said the project targets an area that has a great deal of potential.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” Evans said. “We have waited and hoped for decades that somebody would come in and buy one or several of the old buildings down there and renovate them and put them back into use and clean up the whole waterfront area. I think we really hit the jackpot in that not only do we now have somebody, but somebody local with a proven track record of restoring buildings to their old look. Aaron [Flach] has done that, and I have no doubt he will do that here as well.”

Flach said he believes Coxsackie’s waterfront is an underutilized area ripe for development.

“We want to create more tourism in this area. Coxsackie has the nicest, most stunning riverfront, by far, in the area, and we need to promote it,” Flach said. “I think the state is realizing what this area can be. You can go anywhere north of Albany on the river, you can go south on the river — you won’t find a nicer portion of riverfront with the natural beauty and historic buildings we have. There are no negatives, there are no eyesores in the area.”

Flach is finalizing the architectural plans for Phase 1 of the project, and already has approval from the village’s planning board. The next step will be to submit the project’s budget to the state for approval for the grant, and then work can begin.

The second phase of the project would focus on the vacant storefronts on South River Street. Flach owns all of the buildings to the right of The Yellow Deli, which he does not own. Known locally as “the Dolan Block,” the buildings once contained an opera house in the 1860s. Those buildings will be renovated into apartments or storefronts that Flach hopes to rent.

“We have already got a coffee roaster lined up and we are looking to get at least one restaurant,” Flach said. “As we develop the hotel, we will have more of a handle on the market and what is needed.”

The building closest to the new hotel, which formerly housed Patrick Henry’s Bar and Tavern, will be worked on concurrently with Phase 1.

“It will be a bar and restaurant again, and will be worked on at the same time as the hotel and the event center,” Flach said. “The other buildings will come along once the hotel is operational.”

Karl Heck, director of economic development and planning for Greene County, said the project is a welcome addition.

“This is transformative. It’s in an area that is just starting to redevelop and the Flach project will bring a lot of people there and do it in a historically appropriate way,” Heck said. “Those buildings on that block are a mix of 19th century historic buildings with modern buildings. Redeveloping them and doing it in a historically appropriate way is win-win for everybody.”

Evans said the project could be a game changer for Coxsackie.

“It will have a transformational effect on downtown — the event center will draw a huge number of people to the downtown area who otherwise never would have come here, and the hotel will bring people to enjoy our downtown, our shops and our restaurants,” Evans said. “As he continues to put the old Patrick Henry’s and the old opera house back into use, and brings condos and apartments, we will have full-time people in downtown, as well as retail opportunities. It will be interesting to see how it all develops.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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