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Officials are looking at options for developing the area in and around the Poughkeepsie Train Station to include restaurants, offices and residential properties. City Mayor John Tkazyik and Metro-North President Howard Permut signed a memorandum of understanding Thursday at the station. The memorandum outlines the initial actions the city and railroad will take toward developing the area. The proposal is akin to a transit-oriented development plan officials are discussing in the City of Beacon. The 22-acre development is about a half-mile from Beacon's Main Street. The proposal would add parking, as well as hundreds of apartments and condominiums on land Metro-North owns, in addition to stores and office space, all in a walkable area near the waterfront. The announcement in Poughkeepsie comes just a day after a bankruptcy judge ruled that a sale of Dooley Square, a private complex of restaurants, shops and offices next to the train station -- long portrayed as key to the city's revitalization -- can proceed, a decision that could lead to a dozen businesses being forced out of the complex. Analyses to come According to the memorandum, the city and Metro-North will prepare an economic and financial analysis and a conceptual plan. The city will draft zoning regulations for the area that includes land owned by the railroad and about 3 to 5 acres of city property west of the station on Water Street, the document said. "We have no plans to do anything on or to privately owned land," Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said in an e-mail. Anders said it's still too early in the process to discuss funding for further stages of development. She said the railroad has not yet been in contact with Preferred Group of Manhattan, the prospective buyer of Dooley Square. The state Department of State will provide a $40,000 Smart Growth Program Grant to fund the economic analysis, said Paul Beyer, Smart Growth director. The economic analysis will establish viable density goals for the development properties and determine what would be the "best mix" of residential, commercial, retail and recreational use, the document said. The city and Metro-North will "undertake stakeholder and public outreach to discuss the proposed plan," which will include stakeholder meetings and public open houses, the document said. Beyer said criteria for "transit-oriented development" would include pedestrian accessibility, mixed uses -- residential, businesses, and the like, and proximity to mass transit. "Developers used to run from a train station. Now it's come full circle," Beyer said. "This will mean jobs, this will mean growth, this will mean opportunities," said Charles North, president and chief executive officer of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce. "Not only does it help the city, it helps the region." Reach Emily Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 845-437-4882.
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