When Mid-Hudson Correctional Facility closed in 2011, it freed up 740 acres of prime property that its host community, Warwick, readily bought for $3.1 million.
During the past decade, the town has actively worked to repurpose the property and has seen positive results from its efforts. With Covid-19 fading and the state reopening, business is again percolating on the former prison property, now known as Wickham Woodlands.
Along with a new Warwick Valley Office and Technology Corporate Park on the campus, where the town’s business accelerator is working with three-startup companies, business is growing along its winding State School Road: a former administration building has become the trendy Drowned Lands Brewery; the prison’s old guard tower is now the gateway to Hudson Sports Complex; and the land surrounding Wickham Lake, which inmates could view from behind barbed wire fencing, has been turned into a town park.
The Warwick Valley’s fertile landscape also offers ample opportunities for those who grow hemp and its soon-to-be-street legal counterpart, marijuana, and is seeing that business beginning to boom within Wickham Woods’ borders.
When the United States eased federal regulations on growing hemp in 2018, the floodgates of products produced from hemp’s byproduct, cannabidiol — better known to the public as CBD — started hitting the shelves.
Medical marijuana has been legal since 2016, and the state also relaxed its regulations for CBD-infused food and beverages. In April, 2021, the New York state Legislature approved the legalization of recreational marijuana, which has opened a whole new revenue stream for cultivators.
Those measures have propelled Wickham Woods into the spotlight for those with a vested interest in both legal hemp/cannabis cultivation and CBD production.
Chicago-based Fiorello Pharmaceuticals/Green Thumb Industries is poised to build a 100,000-square-foot cannabis growing and processing facility on 40 acres in the technology park.
The company received approval in May from the Orange County Industrial Development Agency for subsidies that include a sales and tax use exemption, mortgage recording tax exemption and a 15-year payment in lieu of taxes, as well as approval for the issuance of taxable revenue bonds.