Places + Travels

Newburgh!

I have a whole bunch of emails from people asking me about Newburgh, and it’s taking me so long to get through them all. I’m so sorry! I promise I’ll get to all of your questions soon (maybe I need to put a Newburgh FAQ on here?), but in the mean time, I thought this article from the NY Daily News might be of interest to those of you considering moving up here. (DO IT!) It gives a pretty accurate description of what the City of Newburgh is like, what we’re all about, and where we’re heading going forward.

Please note: The prices in the article tend to be on the higher end of the deals that can be found here. You can still get a great house in Newburgh for less than $200,000 (sometimes much less).


(photo from newburghonhudson.com)

Strong housing stock, picturesque waterfront help Hudson Valley’s Newburgh
BY JULIA VITULLO-MARTIN
Wednesday, October 15th 2008, 11:58 AM

Can an impoverished post-industrial city cast off its decades-long legacy of slumlords, crime and drugs while developing its waterfront and restoring its once historic neighborhoods?

The leaders of Newburgh, N.Y., a small city 70 miles north of Manhattan, are convinced it can. While at it, they also plan on drawing New York City residential pioneers looking for a more affordable lifestyle in an emerging city with a housing stock in need of some love and care.

Two projects are key to their plans – an ambitious conversion of 30 acres of Hudson River waterfront into a mixed-use space by Tuxedo-based Leyland Alliance, and the city’s Public/Private Housing Partnership, dedicated to refurbishing and selling formerly abandoned buildings.

Leyland won out over some 30 prominent bidders for the waterfront last year, in part because it convinced city residents that its plan could reconnect the waterfront with the rest of the city. The riverfront site overlooks a section of the river made famous by Hudson River School painters, and has been empty since a period of urban renewal in the 1960s. Construction is expected to begin in 2010.

Newburgh’s Public/Private Housing Partnership Initiative is moving some 50 city-owned houses back into private hands. The newest offerings are the “Grand Ladies of Dubois Street”: six houses built in the 1800s now being rehabilitated by Hogar (Housing Opportunities for Growth, Advancement and Revitalization) Inc., a private developer from Haverstraw, N.Y.

“Compared to what’s available in the larger market, these houses are a steal,” says Hogar executive director Edna Rivera. She notes that most families attending last Sunday’s open house came from Westchester, Manhattan or Brooklyn. What’s more, she says, three neighborhood banks are fully committed to making loans on the properties.

Of the three Partnership houses put on the market in June, the largest is a fully renovated 3,700-square-foot Carpenter Gothic with five bedrooms, four bathrooms and off-street parking for four cars. In contract for $320,000 (with special financing that required only $9,600 down), the sale carried one restriction – the purchaser must live there for five years.

“That’s the whole point,” says city manager Jean-Ann McGrane. “We want buyers who are fully committed to these neighborhoods.”

The buyer has offset the $2,648 in monthly costs by renting the first-floor one-bedroom, one-bath unit for $900 – which is almost equivalent to the monthly taxes of $950 – leaving a monthly cost of $1,748. Former New Yorker McGrane compares Dubois Street to Park Slope, which she says went through a similar transition in the early 1980s. “These houses are a great buy for people who understand what they’re getting,” she says. A house at 44 Dubois is listed at $350,000.

Built in the 1850s, the house at 48 Dubois sits alongside 50 Dubois, a turreted, exuberant-looking house that was former Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro’s childhood home. The block has declined since then.

Kevin Zachary, an African-American who grew up in a gray shingled house across the street, says the neighborhood was ideal when he was a child in the 1950s. “Then the drugs came, and violence and shootings,” he says.

His old home neighbors the Shaw Houses, two of which have been renovated by Hogar, with an open house scheduled for Oct. 22. Both are priced at $250,000, says Rivera, because they are targeted at first-time buyers who meet HUD guidelines, earning 80% of the area’s median income. The third Shaw House remains a privately owned SRO.

Former Brooklynite Vincent Cianni, who bought the Partnership’s first house last September, says: “I’ve lived in developing areas before. When I moved to Williamsburg, it was very underdeveloped, edgy, raw, borderline. My neighborhood here is quiet, wonderful families live on the block, and the city is doing a lot to reduce crime.”

Cianni paid $238,000 for a historic Sears Roebuck kit bungalow not far from downtown. His broker, Miguel Marquez, calls it a bargain in any terms.

Marquez (owner, Grand Newburgh Real Estate Services) is also the broker for the formerly city-owned houses on William St. He concedes it’s a rough area. But after his company warned city officials that they couldn’t sell houses in a neighborhood with conspicuous crime, the police department installed security cameras, hoping to remove the more serious criminals.

Newburgh Police Chief Eric Paolilli says he recognizes that “there’s no way to market property if people believe the streets are in chaos.”

He instituted a New York-style analytic unit that tracks criminal incidents by time and place, allowing the department to efficiently deploy resources. While robberies have shown a 6% increase in the first six months of this year over last, property crime is down 21%.

“We deal very closely with individual officers,” says activist Eric Jarmann. “I have tremendous respect for them. We see them in action.”

Homeowner Cianni says he doesn’t worry about crime, which he argues is “internal to specific neighborhoods.” He was attracted to Newburgh in the first place by friend and Brooklyn-transplant Barbara Ballarini, who owns the immensely popular Caffe Macchiato, directly across from what had been the site of George Washington’s headquarters during the Revolutionary War.

Newburgh’s comeback is “just a question of time,” says Ballarini. “As a single person, I opened a business for the community. I live here, and my daughter goes to a public school here. If everybody does the same thing, Newburgh will change fantastically.”

But will everyone do the same thing?

“Look at what’s been happening,” says McGrane. “The Peruvian restaurants on Broadway, the new businesses like the frame shop and art supply store or the flourishing old businesses like the mayor’s tailor shop or Torino’s Bakery. Lots of people moving in, fixing up, investing. The Dubois Street houses are a great buy for people who understand what they’re getting, and Newburgh is a great place to live for people who love cities.”

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17 Comments

  • Reply erin@designcrisis October 22, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Looks absolutely gorgeous! Why don’t they have homes like that in Austin???

  • Reply rifferaff October 22, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    your blog is making me fall in love with this town. one day…

  • Reply suzanne October 22, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    i am very intrigued, too bad we just bought a co-op in brooklyn for the same price as one of those gorgeous houses! i am going to pass this story along to a coworker though.

  • Reply verhext October 22, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    i’ll take it!!

    too bad i’d never get a mortgage ;D

  • Reply Anna at D16 October 23, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Priscilla…um…that’s the article I linked to (and posted) in this entry!

  • Reply Ani October 23, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Did the last house sell?

  • Reply Anna at D16 October 23, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Ani, it looks like it did sell! That’s great news. Hopefully I’ll see some work happening there sometime soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

    This one is still on the market, though! It’s more expensive, but larger and in much better condition.

  • Reply Irishgirl October 23, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    If you really what to know about Newburgh, I suggest you start here. http://www.newburghadvocate.com

  • Reply Cassie October 23, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Way to go Newburgh! I’d like to visit it some day. I am planning on going to Beacon next weekend. Any restaurant recs?

  • Reply euni October 23, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    Cassie,

    Try Marlena’s Kitchen and Homespun, both on Main and fantastic.

  • Reply Anna at D16 October 23, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Irishgirl: Thanks for the link, I hadn’t seen that site before. I’m sure it’s useful for people (like me) who live in Newburgh but aren’t able to attend meetings, but probably not very exciting for people considering a trip or move here. ๐Ÿ™‚ Do you live here, by the way?

    Cassie: I second euni’s recommendation for Homespun (I’ve never been to Marlena’s)! I also really like Beacon’s diner, the Yankee Clipper. I’m a diner kind of girl, though. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Whatever you do, don’t bother going to the Piggy Bank. I’ve been there several times, and it never fails to disappoint! The Thai restaurant at the East end of Main, Sukhothai, is decent. I’m picky, though, having moved up here from Brooklyn!!

    If you need restaurant recommendations for Newburgh, just ask! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Heather + Chad October 24, 2008 at 8:20 am

    We’re planning to move from Brooklyn to Newburgh in November, and in a mode of constant research. This is all such great information. Thank you! P.S. Not sure if you’ve seen this spot already, but we’re planning on making a Saturday drive sometime soon to check it out.

    http://www.coolhunting.com/archives/2008/10/scandinavian_gr.php

  • Reply hyedie October 27, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    hello fellow wrist worms owner ๐Ÿ™‚

    i just wanted to drop a note to say that i love your blog and everything you share about newburg. you should be handed a key to the city for promoting it so well!!

    i was kind close by this past weekend. on our way down from toronto, ontario to manhattan, we stopped by the woodbury commons (what a crazy place! the amount of shopping people do there is jaw dropping) and there was a sign that said that we were in newburg!

    do you have views of the rolling, beautiful hills with all the fall colours from your part of the city?

    it was SO so so beautiful – in fact the drive down was pretty the whole way down.

    ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Cassie November 3, 2008 at 11:59 am

    I don’t know if you read comments on old posts, but we did end up going to Homespun. Great choice! Saturday was a gorgeous fall day and we really enjoyed Beacon (slightly mixed response to Dia:Beacon). Maybe next time I can squeeze in Newburgh as well. You live in a beautiful part of the world.

  • Reply Susan November 10, 2008 at 8:41 am

    Thanks for the info on Newburgh! I live in nearby Warwick (I posted before, asking what’s Newburgh got going on), and this is great! We had some friends out from Brooklyn this weekend and told them about the deals to be had there and about your blog, so we’re spreading the word.

  • Reply Michael G. November 11, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Great to see some more attention for our great city! There are few places anywhere you will experience the architecture and views that we have. The real estate is still very affordable. The Liberty Street area near Washington’s Headquarters is developing briskly. All it takes is a visit. This place caught me 20 years ago- never looked back.

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