Is the Hudson Valley the New Brooklyn?



It seems like every week a new Hudson Valley town is being touted the “next Brooklyn.” Many voice disagreement in using Brooklyn as an adjective to describe places that have little in common with the popular NYC borough. Today Brooklyn is known as being “cool, hip, or creative” while just two decades ago it was famous for race riots and depopulation. One could assume that when a neighborhood is being compared to Brooklyn, it is being compared for its qualities and characteristics.

Newburgh is not Brooklyn, it’s 60 miles away with mountain views and a 132 foot wide Main Street. But we can appreciate the comparison. Both are in New York State, both are urban dense municipalities, both have waterfronts, both suffered from deindustrialization and suburbanization, and both have amazing historic housing stock. And yes, Newburgh has a lot of ex-New Yorkers (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Long Island and beyond). Brooklyn has been successful at reinventing itself and is now a very desirable place to be. Chris Hanson, a realtor sited in the Are we really the next Brooklyn? article seems to think Newburgh is on its way:

“I think Liberty Street is the most important street in Newburgh, both commercially and residentially. You’ve got nice pedestrian traffic, Washingston’s Headquarters, storefronts with apartments above them — lots of them with river views. The fact that it isn’t a thriving commercial district right now is sort of mind-boggling. I think it will happen, and it will happen soon; it has real momentum. The clock is ticking on Liberty Street. That window is going to close in one year to 18 months… In the last six months, Brooklyn people account for at least 50 percent of my showings. They used to go to Beacon and find what they were looking for and stop there. Now they’re either coming directly from Brooklyn to Beacon to Newburgh or from Brooklyn to Newburgh.”

So what do you think? Is Newburgh on its way to sharing some of the characteristics that make Brooklyn desirable?

17 Comment

  • What “Brooklyn” are we talking about? I moved up from Brooklyn in 2009, and found Newburgh to be like the Brooklyn of my youth (1980s) with succinctly different neighborhoods, and even different feeling blocks within neighborhoods.
    One of the reasons I moved out of Brooklyn, was because I didn’t appreciate the influx of out-of-towners appropriating MY borough into a artsy, gentrified amalgamation of hipsters, wannabes and developer-pimps.
    But I have to say…you have to balance the good with the bad as I did enjoy the restaurants and other destinations that were a direct result of the evolution of the borough.
    So, it appears I’m destined to relive the change I ran from when I came to Newburgh.
    I agree with Chris Hanson that the fact stores on Liberty and Broadway are still vacant or underused is mind boggling. But when you think of the political envirnment and the ineptitude, you can understand why business have trouble succeeding there.

    • The storefronts on Liberty Street are vacant because the landlords have no interest in renting them. They’re speculating waiting for some fool to pay a unsustainably high rent. Sure, it’s their right as the owners to do as they please but they’re shooting themselves- and the surrounding business owners- in the foot because of some pipedream they have. Anyone who believes that these storefronts are empty because they can’t find tenants hasn’t had a discussion with these landlords. They are being unreasonable and are a large part of the problem.

  • My old man ran us from a changing Brooklyn in’71 which, from a kid’s perspective , was a great place and time. Afterwards, the burough went through a downward cycle and, after hitting bottom, eventually started on its upward trajectory. He’d be amazed in knowing the ‘damned’ brown stone was valuing at a million plus. Coincidental news is Spike Lee’s old Fort Greene row house was recently vandalized after he made some remarks about gentrification. Ironic, he had moved back into the neighborhood after gaining success, then sells at a nice profit after gentrification took hold and now, as he’s living on the upper eastside, goes on a tyrant. It’s all about your perspective. Check out the documentary ‘Brooklyn Boheme’ directed by Nelson George as it offers some insight into the path of gentrification.

  • It’s natural for people from Brooklyn, or other parts of NYC, to make comparisons so that they feel secure in their new surroundings.

    There are many familiar elements that Newburgh shares with NYC, and Brooklyn in particular…both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ (and I leave each to define ‘good’ and ‘bad’ their own way! One man’s meat is another man’s poison, as they say!)

    Newburgh has been traumatized badly and needs healing…but it is also the perfect setting in which to create all things good.

  • It surely could become a new Brooklyn,for all the reasons mentioned but also for the nice “melting pot” that it could create.Let’s just make sure that the city council is on the same page…

  • Why not the new Soho or Detroit? So much in common- BUT. “The new X” is just another hokey tired real estate ad meme. Personally I moved to and to settled in Newburgh for its unique pluses- outbalancing the negatives- that Newburgh has to offer. It has nothing to do with where I came from. If others don’t see it, their loss. If we need to compare it to other overpriced hipster hangouts to get people to come here, a lot of them will become quickly disappointed. Newburgh is what it is, take it or leave it. It will always be in flux whether the NYTimes or the glossy advertorial rags thinks what’s happening now is special or not.

  • The caveat to us current residents is the impact on our tax bill in the aggregate. Unless you bought into the City’s spin of how a higher rate is not a change due to a lower assessment value (in some cases) . They’ve been questioned on this several times………crickets chirpping. As Michael G. pointed out, real estate, to some, is a game of selling to the greater fool. I wouldn’t give the council too much credit, but you know they’ll be high stepping it with the “lookey what we did” attitude regarding any revitalization. Case in point; check out the last council meeting, correct me if I’m wrong…the Mayor buys into a rental that needs to be condemned and someone lives there with code violations, the O.C.C.C. purchase of the three city properties was cleared prior to any communication with the city manager/planner and the Rent to Own is a done deal without the public’s input.

  • I echo Michael’s sentiment that Newburgh is it’s own thing and shouldn’t be billed as the “new anything.” I hate the fact that Newburgh is compared to a Brooklyn that has been hijacked by speculators and hipsters from outside.
    As a native Brooklynite, I resented the re-make in my borough, was priced out of the market, and subsequently fled. The same thing would happen here if we allow it. No, Newburgh has to carve it’s own identity that is inclusive of the people who have stayed throughout the bad times (before I even knew Newburgh existed), the recent newcomers (like me), and the new arrivals or soon-to-be citizens. I believe their is Community Will, and that’s a solid platform for change. We have to create Political Will now.

  • As a former retailer who spent my life in the business of retail stores, I can tell the landlords over on Liberty that one of the criteria for paying for a retail storefront is the per square foot business of the previous store AND the estimated foot traffic.

    They are quoting big rents and they have NO PREVIOUS RECENT TENANT. That means the first businesses to rent there will have the burden of marketing a brand new retail district with no record, virtually no parking, in an area most of Orange County considers crime ridden whether that is fact or not–the perception is there. Good luck with that. As the businesses who go there will find out. They will invest their good money to build something that will bring them no return on their investment, and then they will either close or leave.

    What this calls for is a concerted effort at generous granting of public resources for the promotion of JOB creation in the retail stores. Retail job creation in the City of Newburgh is a no brainer if you look at how underserved the population is–from the high end to the low end.

    • I agree with you that fledging businesses need the support of the city and that landlords need to charge rents in line with what the market will bear, as there is limited foot traffic, restricted parking, and some areas that could use more cleanup.

      Solutions by the people on Liberty are coming along; the businesses and residents have already made positive change. New businesses have come in and more are on the way. There are a few businesses that have survived in the area, and a few new ones that are popping up. Some of them have organized and shoveled the thick layer of garbage on the curb themselves, and have paid for help to keep the streets clean of the trash that is dropped or blown. Some landlords maintain affordable commercial rent (at their own expense!) and keep viable business tenants in place. Not only is it possible, it is happening. People with a long view are making sacrifices for Newburgh. The ones who have stuck it out understand what it takes…and the new ones are showing a dedicated effort.

      It would be great to see the city provide some support through subsidies, credits, or provision of the already paid for municipal services. They could also help with signs to direct shoppers to the municipal parking lot on Ann St. Small amounts, in the form of sidewalk repair and assistance to pay for signage, are a small drop in the local business bucket. The city should try to do more for the local people investing their own efforts and dollars. Surely ten small businesses are providing an economic boost equal to or better than one large, lumbering, subsidized ‘big deal.’

      I don’t think the dour predictions you make, Noel, will come to pass if the people and the city work together toward common, positive goals.

    • I agree with the premise of your first paragraph, perception is reality. However, you lost me on the notions of “generous granting of public resources” and “how underserved the population is” as they pertain back to the former. If you are suggesting that the ‘build it and they will come’ concept prior to addressing the crime, lack of parking etc. is an exercise in futility, then I agree. Without even addressing the current parking, it’s more of an issue of getting from point A to point B safely whether by foot or by car. Personally, we limit, not entirely exclude, our travel into the areas of and around Liberty Street because of these concerns. I know of three friends who were excited to join the recently opened Pilates studio but, regrettably, turned the car around due to the pot holes. We just returned from The Restore followed by a stop at the Newburgh Brewery. Great businesses, but the infrastructure doesn’t say “come and see us again”. I’m not suggesting every street in Newburgh be redone like Powell Ave. (we know what that was about), rather, target a specific zone such as the Liberty street corridor and in the least throw some asphalt in the holes. The ‘City’s disconnect with the pulse of this city and the lack of priori never ceases to amaze me.

      • Angela and all other Liberty Street corridor businesses are commendable for taking the chance to open up their business in the City, especially when some of them were in the Town. If the pot holes aren’t navigable, which quite honestly plague the entire North East after this polar vortex, there are probably deeper reasons one would choose not to go to Liberty Street.

        • You’re correct. Recently I’ve been driving all over the Hudson Valley- in some very wealthy areas- and potholes are an issue everywhere, as is garbage blowing around on the streets. As far as using government resources, hundreds of thousands of misspent dollars have been spent on the Washington Market area. In the past few years, I have first hand knowledge of tens of thousands of those dollars being politically wasted by people in our Economic Development department. (About $50,000 went to a phantom restaurant project presented by a former ED director’s ex-spouse and another $70,000 went to a friend of another former ED director to repaint the front of a building that was rehabbed less than 5 years previous.) It’s not money that’s the problem, it’s not finding tenants for the empty storefronts that’s the problem, it’s small town idiocy combined with greedy landlords and bolstered by our elected officials. Walt is correct, it is not inviting to drive or park or walk in this area. On South Colden Street- on the block of the Newburgh Brewing Company- there are no curbs on the street, overgrown brush, piles of garbage and non-working streetlights. Between Caffe Macchiato and the ReStore the sidewalks are in complete disrepair or non-existent. There’s little-to-no signage except some irrelevant banners. (The sidewalks were contracted out to political friends of the politicians 25 years ago- when they got rid of the cellar hatches- and they backfilled them literally with garbage.) These are direct and effective actions that have been completely ignored after hundreds of hours of meetings addressing these very issues.

          • Thanks again Michael G. for the background on the ‘City. I’ll add, some of the potholes in Newburgh were actually man made (they’re squared) just prior to and during the winter in order to “monitor” and or “band-aid” either gas line (shhhh) or water line leaks. I know on some streets the work is, alternatively, covered with steel plates . The DPW, CH and the outside contractors will have their work cut out for them… so cut them some slack all.
            Aside, here’s an amusing e-mail exchange I recently had with my eldest brother regarding the HV/Brooklyn hyperbole (if you don’t find it to be …lighten up). To put it into context, he moved out of Brooklyn, ‘hated it, in’69 to do the
            military/college thing, settled in Utah as a manufacturing engineer and was “displaced” four years ago to Vero Beach, Florida. I couldn’t remember our old Brooklyn address………
            to Walt
            The address was 654-57 st. I can’t believe the prices for those once (still) roach infested buildings in those old nasty neighborhoods.
            check out for some history
            to Stephen
            …yeah, but now those roaches scatter on granite counter tops and travertine floors. Thanks for the link. Nice.
            to Walt
            Down here they gave them the quaint name of Palmetto bugs.

  • Great article…thanks for the heads up Cher.

  • You echo my thought Hannah. I also think instead of the comparison to Brooklyn or any other place, why not just work with the uniqueness of Newburgh and create something beautiful. In its current state, it will need a collaboration by everyone invested or interested in transforming this neglected city into an enclave of artistic, creative dwellers, living in love peace and harmony; making Newburgh the place other towns everywhere would want to emulate…