The storefront at 15 Liberty Street has finally shed its former life as an apartment, now looking like a proper storefront waiting for a fresh coat of paint. The eventual plan is to create a coffee shop. Peeking inside you can see the preparations of a counter top and artwork on the wall. This work is being done by the SodaCova Group who is also working on 2 Liberty. You won’t see rapid change overnight on South Liberty, but this is complementing other projects such as the Liberty Street School, Simple Gifts & Goodies, and other properties along this corridor.
A little over two weeks ago SodaCova Group announced that we would be seeing a new roof over at 2 Liberty Street. The installation work has begun. They have also begun securing the east wall to rebuild the missing brick wall. It is very encouraging to see this building on the brink of demolishing being rehabilitated.
The storefront will eventually be restored as commercial space and the upper floors will become apartments. A grand opening is planned when the work has been completed. Stay tuned for updates.
Urban renewal these days happens in the form of neglect. An unattended leaky roof can wreak havoc. Many of these boarded up buildings are hollow inside due to the roof collapsing years ago. So is the case at 2 Liberty. The roof is gone, and so is the back wall of the 3rd floor. Many would think the next logical step would be to demolish the remaining structure. Developers and visionaries have proven time and time again that there is still value in these buildings. SodaCova Group is rehabilitating 2 & 15 Liberty Street.
SodaCova Group is an entirely minority-owned real estate investment company. They began work in the City of Newburgh out of a desire to give back to the community. The location of 2 Liberty was chosen particularly because of its location at the intersection of two main thoroughfares – Liberty and Renwick. It is away from the waterfront, but SodaCova feels it can help bring traffic west of Water Street and bring revitalization south on Liberty. SodaCova is working with native Newburgher, Josh Mousseau of Domus Port who has worked on rehabilitating buildings in similar states in Newburgh. The roof is scheduled to be installed by the end of the month and hopefully, the building will be completed by the end of the year with a grand opening of the commercial space, yet to be announced.
Across the street, SodaCova is doing work on 15 Liberty. The first floor had an illegal apartment and they are working to restore the commercial retail space. Work on the storefront could begin as early as next week. Plans are to create a gallery space. Stay tuned for that announcement.
Overall, this is very exciting news for the revitalization of southern Liberty Street. Coupled with the rehabilitation of PS 6, the Liberty Street School, this section of Liberty between Benkard and Renwick will slowly start to turn the corner. This goes without mentioning the hard work the Colas family has done at 19 Liberty Street. Bravo to you Nancy and Kermit!
The Newburgh Community Land Bank in cooperation with the City of Newburgh is seeking proposals for the development and operation of Downing Park Urban Farm for 2017. As can be seen on the map below, the 2+ acre site is adjacent to Downing Park. It is fenced in, and for the past 18 months repairs have been made. Also, old construction debris and hazardous materials have been removed. The goal is to create a youth-based urban farm project that creates personal and social change through agriculture, imitating similar projects in Boston and New Orleans.
This RFP is for development and programming at Downing Park Urban Farm from March through December of this year, 2017. Proposals are due no later than March 1, 2017 12:00PM. You can find out more details by looking at the official RFP.
Weigant’s Tavern is one of those special buildings in Newburgh surrounded by history, mystery, and neglect. It might look like scrap wood to you, but this building is special with Weigant Family connections to the Revolutionary War. According to local historian Mary McTamaney, the original tavern was located at the north side of Broad Street just east of Liberty. The building was most likely moved during the 1930’s, and it is unlikely any of the original 18th-century building parts remain.
However, as Orange County Historian Johanna Yaun stated,”The structure was moved and repaired so we’ll never know how much of the configuration is original. But the care given to moving the structure in the 1930’s illustrates a chapter of Colonial Revivalism in the early 20th century. I think this story, especially in a city so rich with Revolutionary War connections, is important to remember. We weren’t only the place where Washington headquartered, we are also the place that pioneered the historic preservation of sites associated with the founding era. The tavern reminds us that if not for the local militias and committees of safety (the men who rose up from the community to take a stand against the monarchy), Washington’s army would not have come into existence. We can’t explain the success of the Army without telling the story of what happened in the colony’s taverns.”
It is exciting to learn that Thomas Burr Dodd of RipRap LLC will oversee the rehabilitation of Weigant’s Tavern (also spelled Weigand and Weygant). The interior condition is much worse than anything that you can imagine just by judging from the outside. There isn’t one right angle in this entire building. The floors are warped, the walls are disintegrating and everything else is collapsing. It is little wonder it hasn’t imploded. Where does one even begin on a project like this? In the first few minutes of talking to Dodd, you realize he has a passion for history and old buildings. He has tentative plans to create an office here, but would also consider other possibilities like renting out to a tenant who wants to restore the original tavern use.
The abandonment that plagued this corner of the Old Town Cemetery made it an incredibly frightful place. Hopefully, the development of Weigant’s Tavern will be one more building block to the revitalization of northern Liberty.
*Please note, there are no tours of the tavern and you should not try to gain entry. For now, enjoy these photos of the current condition.
Well what a surprise this is. Just when everyone thought this building was about to tumble down, brick repair has begun to the former Clinton Hotel at the corner of Washington Street and Liberty. They are starting at the rear off the building, knocking off loose bricks and stacking up others on the side. From the front of the building you can get a glimpse of the scaffolding peeking out from behind.
So what’s the deal with this building anyway? A fire gutted it in 1978. Since then it has been deteriorating brick by brick. I’ve been told plans are to rehabilitate the building into a mixed use property with possible lofts and ground floor exhibition space. And if all goes as planned, it might be the first Passive House in the Hudson Valley. Till then, hopefully the work will continue and prove to all the naysayers that buildings in severe disrepair don’t all have a date with a wrecking ball.