Joseph T. Kirchhoff is building a new village, but he needs it to feel like an old one.
It’s for that reason that the founder of the Pleasant Valley real estate development company that bears his name is spending a sunny Thursday afternoon guiding a Business Journal reporter and photographer through tall grass on a former Dutchess County dairy farm.
Kirchhoff is angling for a better look at a nearly 200-year-old horse barn on the 80-acre property in the town of Poughkeepsie. The barn once provided refuge for 18th century travelers down the dirt road that is now Route 44. Today, the barn may represent the first actual building for what will become Eastdale Village — a $90 million planned community that will eventually include 390 apartments and more than 120,000 square feet of retail space.
Construction crews broke ground in August, with the hope of wrapping up in about five years. The goal, as Kirchhoff described it, is to create a Main Street-style village. One that gives that cozy feel of a Northeastern town built over decades, but still offers the amenities of new construction.
The barn has a role to play in that, despite some wear and tear. Wood panels are missing, as is the glass from most of the windows. But Kirchhoff described the barn’s potential as a show-stopping mailroom and fitness center at the base of the village green.
“The cheap thing would have been the excavator” to demolish it, he said. Instead, it will be restored and showcased.
“You’ll walk in and see the planks and the beautiful old chestnut beams with wooden pegs,” he said. “There’s these rolling arch-top doors that we’re restoring and reusing.”
The hope for that aesthetic, as he described it, is to help the community feel authentic. It’s a word he refers to often while describing the goals of the project.
Eastdale Village could eventually deliver hundreds of new residents, while creating jobs through medical offices and small retailers that take advantage of the 18,000 cars Kirchhoff said pass daily on Route 44. An important aspect of that effort is making the community feel like the type of walkable, historic village that appeals to both the baby boomer and millennial generations.
“If it’s done well and it’s authentic,” he said, “like it grew organically over time, like you’d see in Rhinebeck, or some other area built over 70 or 80 years, we feel this has a very good shot to be incredibly successful.”
Mix of buildings and open space
Kirchhoff Cos. is developing the project along with partners Christopher C. Dyson and David Silver. The same week Kirchhoff met with the Business Journal to discuss Eastdale Village, the company was opening a new storage facility in Miami. Kirchhoff estimated his company is involved in about $310 million in development work throughout the country. The fully integrated company’s portfolio spans student housing, medical office space, retail centers and multifamily apartment buildings.
But Eastdale Village is likely the largest development and ownership undertaking in his company’s 30-year history, he said. It’s believed to be the largest construction project in the town since the Poughkeepsie Galleria mall opened in 1987.
The construction will span adjacent sides of Route 44. Eastdale Avenue, the village’s “Main Street,” will connect the two sides with tree-lined roads in either direction featuring benches and bike racks. In renderings, two- and three-story commercial buildings, some with upper level apartments, line the avenue with glass storefronts and colorful awnings.
“It’s not going to be national brands, it’s going to be more regional brands, local brands that are into food and beverage and shopping boutiques,” Kirchhoff said about the Main Street retail.
“It will have that type of feel that people will want to walk and dine and hang out, listen to music with an ice cream cone,” he added.
The property’s major tenants will include a 30,000-square-foot medical office building — operator to be announced soon — as well as a bank and childcare center for the village’s employees and residents.
The project site involves about 60 acres of the 80-acre property Kirchhoff holds. About 21 acres on the east side will remain undeveloped to form a new park along Wappinger Creek. The company also plans to limit development to about 35 acres of the 60-acre project site, leaving the rest as open green space.
There’s a central “village green” on the west side of the property, surrounded by the apartment buildings, that will feature a pool, playground, small retail kiosks and a picnic area, with a community garden nearby. Residents can let their canine companions loose at a dog park on the southwest corner of development. On the east side, a smaller green space will feature a playground of its own. A community garden, open lawns and patio seating areas will buffer the buildings there as well.
The 390 residential units, all for rent, will be split into three different styles. On the outer edges of the property near Route 44, plans call for a mix of two- and three-bedroom townhome style units. Toward the center on both sides of the property, the developers are planning a mix of three-story apartment buildings and three-story walk-up style apartment buildings. There are also live/work style apartments above parts of the Eastdale Avenue retail space.
About 1,100 parking spaces will be dispersed throughout the site for residents and shoppers.
With Eastdale Village more than 3 miles from the Poughkeepsie train station, Manhattan and other rail commuters are likely to be a small part of the residents for the village. Kirchhoff envisions a mix of potential residents weighted at one end by recent college graduates who received jobs in the area, and empty nesters on the other who are downsizing but looking to stay close to home.
Eastdale should have the right space for any “renter-by-choice,” as described by Kirchhoff as people able to buy a home, but more interested in a renter’s lifestyle.
“They don’t want to deal with the snow, the ice, the lawn maintenance and they don’t want to worry about pressure washing the house or fixing the roof,” he said. “The rental product has to come up to the demand of that renter-by-choice.”
Kirchhoff pointed to Vassar Brothers Medical Center’s $545 million expansion under construction, and its shift to a teaching hospital, as a sign of jobs to come. Vassar College, along with the Culinary Institute of America and Marist College, also bring educators, administrators and students to the area looking for housing as well, he said.
And for both residents and retailers, Kirchhoff said that Main Street, town center-style locations can be difficult to find in most parts of the county.
“Besides some pockets in Fishkill and Rhinebeck, the rest of the commercial space is on Route 9 in Poughkeepsie,” Kirchhoff said. “So when you get toward the east side of Poughkeepsie, all along this 44 corridor, there aren’t a lot of places to dine and shop.”
The project is expected to generate $35 million in payments between the local Arlington school and fire districts, town of Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County through a 20-year payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement.
Through the deal, the developer is committed to reaching at least 88 permanent jobs on site, though the retail, office and dining portions of the campus could generate up to 300. There’s also an estimated 300 construction jobs over the five-year build out.
Kirchhoff Cos. is also funding more than $5 million in improvements for Route 44 and nearby roads. That includes adding adaptive signal control to more than 23 intersections in the town. The technology will adjust to traffic patterns to prevent backups.
Early construction will focus on the property’s west side. The developers hope the first tenants arrive on site in fall 2019.