SHAWANGUNK – Talk about setting the stage for a brand new urban center in the area, and another place ripe for the forces of gentrification.
The Wallkill Commons project returned once more to the Shawangunk planning board with a reworked map and colored renderings of possible buildings this past week. Presenting the project were Andy Willingham and Keith Lybolt of Professional Commercial Group.
Plans for development of the empty heart of the hamlet of Wallkill have been circulating at the planning board in Shawangunk for quite a few years now. This is a large area, where Railroad Avenue and the rail trail run north/south from Bona Ventura Ave (Rte 208). Once there was a railway station there.
Over the years the board has struggled to accommodate developers' dreams of large buildings with apartments over stores and adjacent townhouses. There has been considerable resistance from already established residential communities. Ultimately, a decision on development here will have to be passed by the town board.
The current proposal is for 42 units of residential housing and about 5,000 square feet of commercial space. Four large buildings, the tallest being 2.5 stories high, are proposed to hold between 8 and 12 residential units. One of these buildings would also hold the commercial space. In addition, at the northern end of the project where Railroad Avenue turns westward to eventually join Cottage Street, there would be two duplexes and a single family home.
Planning board member Patricia Turner asked for the physical footprints of the large buildings, which run from 44 feet by 136 feet down to 45 feet by 111 feet. The duplexes would be 46 by 42 feet. In addition there is 30,000 square feet of open space behind the buildings on the plan.
Asked when he would start building and whether the project would be "phased" in, Lybolt said he would start as soon as he had approvals. He noted that the project on this scale was much more "financable" by a local bank.
Planning board chair Mark Watkins said design would be very important because of where this project would be located. Lybolt showed off renderings for the duplexes and a large rendering of a 12-unit building. The style has peaked roofs, board and batten sidings, and generally complex facades to give it an overall Victorian look that would fit in with the majority of the housing already in place in the area. Watkins agreed that it was an "old style feel."
Indeed, Lybolt said that the plan was for the third large building, now 44 by 120 feet, to have a "wraparound porch" around the building.
There was some discussion regarding the backs of these buildings. Turner expressed concern about the look of second story "decks" or balconies looking out from the back. She asked for line drawings to show what these would look like.
Watkins summed up by saying the project looked "conceptually good." He added that a couple of changes needed to be made and then it could be taken to the town board.