For years, Poughkeepsie watched as the waves of renewal and reinvestment washed over the Hudson Valley, not yet reaching its own shores. Like many other cities in the region, the hard-hit postindustrial city lost its stride in the 20th century as factories shuttered, jobs disappeared and residents left in droves. Now, the once forgotten city has entered a new age of development, investment, and economic growth.
Tourists flock to the upstate city for the famous Walkway over the Hudson. Cafés, breweries, restaurants and art galleries line the avenues once filled with empty lots and vacant, dilapidated buildings—a nod to the region’s long standing reputation as a brew hub. The Trolley Barn and Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory are proof that “in with the new” can be a reimagining of the old.
But even with this burst of development that grew from a slow trickle, the Poughkeepsie of today is not fully what the city had in mind when it crafted its 1998 Comprehensive Plan. Comprehensive plans are roadmaps for development and policy in a city. And among its regional peers, Poughkeepsie’s been running on the oldest. As the city still struggles with vacant homes and affordable housing availability, all while marketing itself to outside young professionals, a new comprehensive plan aims to prioritize everyone looking to make Poughkeepsie home.
This week, I’ll be talking with Joshua Simons about Poughkeepsie’s efforts to develop a new comprehensive plan amid the $1 billion in development underway in the city. Simons is the Senior Research Associate for the SUNY New Paltz Benjamin Center. He’s also the author of “How Poughkeepsie’s Past has Handcuffed its Future,” an analysis of how the city failed to live up to its 1998 Comprehensive Plan. Simons will break down his findings, how the city should move forward in building a new plan, and what current revitalization efforts mean for present and potential Poughkeepsie residents across the socioeconomic spectrum.