Case Studies

The Lofts at Beacon – Rabin|Alexander LLC

Developing an affordable artists’ alternative

While New York has long been a mecca for artists, the city has become increasingly unaffordable for those who help contribute to the Big Apple’s cultural relevance. As luxury condos continue to edge out artists’ living and working spaces, an increasing number of creatives are looking for cheaper alternatives that still offer many of the amenities and conveniences of big-city life.

Built along the banks of Fishkill Creek in Beacon, New York, The Lofts at Beacon offers a unique, rustic alternative to the glossy steel and brick multifamily developments now crowding cities like New York. Built by development firm Rabin/Alexander LLC, The Lofts at Beacon are located in a refurbished 19th-century textile mill. The multiphase project will eventually encompass 10 buildings, providing lofts, community, workshops and gallery space to artists and professionals.

The Lofts at Beacon - Rabin|Alexander LLC

Located in the picturesque Hudson Valley, Beacon has a population of just 15,000. With the Metro North rail line passing through town, residents can reach New York City in around an hour, making the quiet Dutchess County town an attractive alternative for those looking to work in the city or take advantage of its cultural offerings without having to navigate its notoriously expensive housing market.

“The original idea was to foster the artists’ community here in Beacon, and The Lofts at Beacon have basically turned into one amazing artists’ colony,” says Zev Wercberger, project manager for The Lofts at Beacon. A New York City native, Wercberger says he initially shared some common misconceptions about life outside of the big city. “I hadn’t heard of Beacon before I moved here,” he says. “The common mentality is that anything north of Manhattan is upstate New York, but that’s not true anymore.”

A blank canvas

Undertaken as a dual partnership between Rabin|Alexander and Wolfe Properties, The Lofts at Beacon and its residents have already made an impact on the surrounding community. While Wercberger says that the development’s residents were not involved, a streak of “yarn-bombings” around town — where artists wrap public property in crocheted yarn designs —bared the distinctive flavor of the young, urban artists set.

While The Lofts at Beacon is nominally a redevelopment effort, the project involved a large amount of new construction. “We kept the shell of the building intact, but it was essentially just four walls,” says Wercberger. “We had to hollow out the inside and cut up the concrete slab to do the underground plumbing, so it’s really somewhere in between redevelopment and new construction.”

The unique site presented a number of challenges for the team at Rabin|Alexander and Wolfe Properties. Built in 1870, the former dye factory and textile mill had a number of secrets buried beneath its humble brick exterior.

“We really had no idea what would be underground when we started digging. A lot of the drawings were outdated and it was like spaghetti down there; it was a nightmare,” says Wercberger. “We knew there would be a lot of unforeseen problems underground, but we dealt with them and installed new underground utilities including storm, sewer and water lines.”

Post-industrial charm

Given the development’s target market of artists and young professionals, Wercberger and the Rabin|Alexander team focused on providing top-of-the-line amenities and features without losing the building’s distinctive charm.

“It has to do with keeping that rustic, post-industrial kind of look,” he says. “It was beneficial for us when it came to power washing the brick because it was not 100 percent clean, but that’s fine because it’s the way they like it.” Developers also used hardwood flooring that had a number of visible knots and imperfections and kept many of the building’s original steel beams in place as accent pieces.

The lofts themselves feature a number of enviable design elements, including kitchens and baths with modern fixtures, stainless steel appliances and subway tiling as well as 15-foot windows and towering 20-foot ceilings.

Each unit features a lofted sleeping space allowing residents to make the most out of the units. The development also offers one- and two-bedroom units and all units include central air conditioning and heating, disability access, high-speed internet and washer/dryer hookups.

The development also includes a range of features intended on cementing The Lofts at Beacon’s reputation as an artist’s colony, such as an art gallery and community meeting space that plays host to a rotating lineup of art exhibitions every six weeks. The development also offers a fitness center, indoor bike racks, storage and Greenway trail access

With over half the buildings completed so far, The Lofts at Beacon will keep developers working for years as artists and young professionals continue to seek affordable housing alternatives that include all the amenities and community of the big city.

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Spring 2018

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