The Daily Catch

Bedecked in Green Togs, Rhinebeck Residents Show Up in Force to Support Locust Hill Housing Project



Leslie Weinstock, left, Marge Moran, center, and Donna Warner were among dozens of Rhinebeck residents who turned out Tuesday, decked out in green, to support the Locust Hill workforce housing project (photo by Emily Sachar).

Signaling their support for workforce housing clad in shirts and sweaters in shades of green, more than 60 Rhinebeck residents turned up Tuesday evening for an informational meeting about Locust Hill, most saying the project can’t break ground a moment too soon.

Even as several raised questions about lighting on walking paths or the length of Saturday construction work days, the residents said they support the project that has been on the drawing boards since 2018. (Read Kearney Group’s Tuesday presentation here).

“This developer has been very sensitive to the changes that have been requested,” said Donna Warner, who lives on Beech Street. “They’ve broken up parking lots. They’ve shown they care.”

Al Ragucci , who lives at the Gardens, declared himself a YIMBY and said Locust Hill is desperately needed (photo by Emily Sachar).

Added Al Ragucci, pointing to the group of supporters, most of them senior citizens, “I’m a YIMBY (an acronym for Yes, In My Backyard.). The only way we’re going to get young people to live here is if we get this project built. Let’s get to ‘yes’ as soon as we can.”

One woman attempted to poke at Supervisor Elizabeth Spinzia, saying that, as a relatively new arrival to Rhinebeck, she had “no idea” Locust Hill was on the drawing board. The supervisor appeared incredulous while taking the criticism in stride. “We’ve talked about this project literally at every meeting for six years,” she said. “I find it shocking because we’ve been talking about this non-stop.”

Then, she gently reminded the large crowd gathered at Town Hall for the presentation by Kearney Group and affiliated arthat it was too late to pick apart the plan. The presentation on Locust Hill preceded a routine Town Board meeting which Spinzia opened by honoring Eric and Wendy Schmidt for reconstructing 1.5 miles of stone walls along their River Road property at Astor Estates. 

Locust Hill, which will have 80 units, is expected to break ground by year’s end (schematic by The Kearney Group).

“Workforce housing will happen here,” Spinzia, also dressed in green, declared to applause. “This is happening now, so we need to work together to figure out each detail.”

In fact, dozens of micro-details have already been worked out, from the types of finishes for countertops in the 80 rental units to the way the state-of-the-art geothermal heating system will work. There will be no fossil fuels for heating. Architect Anthony J. Coppola, principal of the Newburgh firm that bears his name, said that, because the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal has among the strictest guidelines on environmental design in the nation, the project will be state-of-the-art. “The state is a leader for green and sustainable design,” Coppola said. “And so are we.” A series of all-electric decarbonization features are planned. “We are building for an all-electric future,” he said.

The design of Locust Hill has undergone multiple iterations, with this map reflecting the recent changes in parking layout (map courtesy of The Kearney Group).

The project is now in the midst of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) review process and the Town of Rhinebeck is acting as lead review agent.

Developer Ken Kearney, president of the Kearney Group in Poughkeepsie, which is developing the project, said ground-breaking for the rental complex, which will sit on a 23.3-acre wedge between Astor Place and Rhinecliff Road, should begin this year with an 18- to 22-month timeline for completion.

The project is located between The Woods and Wells Manor with entrance and egress off Rhinecliff Road opposite Bernie Scholldorf’s dairy cattle and feed farm at No. 108, adjacent to the Town Highway Department. An exit point will also be shared with the Wells Manor project onto Astor Drive, Spinzia said.

Developer Ken Kearney said demand for the units is expected to be fierce and will be managed by his company (photo by Emily Sachar).

Several new details emerged Tuesday. Among them:

  • The apartments, which are expected to be in great demand, will be available to individuals, couples and families who earn a maximum of $110,480 with a maximum rent of $2,475 per month. Some homes will be available to those who earn considerably less than this, and Spinzia said an upcoming Town Board meeting will discuss more details.
  • The final tally of units is 18 one-bedroms, 44 two-bedrooms and 18 three-bedrooms. There are no studios, Kearney said, because the build-out cost is almost identical to a one-bedroom. All units have one full bath and the three-bedroom units have an additional half-bath.
  • The units will have 9-foot ceilings, walkout basements, and Hardie plank siding, a fiber cement material made from a combination of cement, sand, and cellulose fibers that is designed to look like wood but is more durable.
  • Locust Hill has been designed with advanced all-electric whole-building, decarbonization strategies and will be constructed to earn the 2020 Enterprise Green Communities Plus (2020 EGC-PLUS) certification.
  • Dozens of trees will be removed but most will be replaced. Every tree of greater than 6 inches in diameter has been identified and tagged.
  • Of the 80 units, 12 are fully ADA-compliant with adjustments for audio-visual needs and physical mobility. Half of the units, those on the ground floor, will be accessible.
  • There will be two electric vehicle charging stations as well as a playground and a gazebo.
  • A crushed gravel walking path will be extended from the Rhinecliff Road entrance to meet up with the village sidewalk near Baker House Bed and Breakfast. An engineer is now working on extending the walking path to the neighboring Wells Manor to create a safe pedestrian path for Wells Manor residents to access the village. 

Locust Hill will be designed to meet state-of-the-art environmental sustainability standards (schematic from The Kearney Group).

To meet the energy standards, several practices are being employed. First, there will be an enhanced thermal enclosure with increased levels of insulation, air-tight assemblies, and high-performance windows and doors. Also, high-efficiency, all-electric mechanical systems utilizing geothermal systems will be used for heat, air conditioning, and production of domestic hot water without the need for backup electrical resistance heating. Third, energy recovery ventilation systems will increase the efficiency of the building while also increasing the indoor air quality of the living spaces. And high-efficiency appliances, pumps, motors and 100 percent LED lighting will be used throughout the building and grounds.

Architect Anthony Coppola described myriad details that have been settled for interior spaces (photo by Emily Sachar).

Approximately four months prior to construction completion, Kearney Group will begin accepting applications from prospective tenants, according to Justin Leigh, a sales agent at Kearney. Then, approximately one month prior to construction completion, all prospective tenants will be entered into a housing lottery, Leigh added. Following the lottery, the prospective tenants’ applications will be reviewed and verified according to their respective number in the lottery. Once a prospective tenant’s income and identity are verified, the tenant will be awarded an apartment in Locust Hill.

The Kearney Group, which also operates the Commons senior housing complex in Red Hook, is a family-run company founded in 1996 that manages more than 2,000 units in the Hudson Valley.

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