This has been in the Newburgh rumor mill for a while, but now the cat is out the bag. In an article published by the THR, details regarding the sale of the Liberty Street School to Thomas Burr Dodd were released. According to the article, the plans are to create a new film studio although these plans have not been 100% confirmed. Dodd is well known in Bushwick, Brooklyn for his work at Brooklyn Fire Proof, his company that provides film and television sound stages as well as work environments for artists, professionals, micro-manufacturers and entrepreneurs.
A quick look at the company’s website, Rip Rap LLC shows the collection of real estate Dodd and his wife, Pearl Son-Dodd have acquired. Rip Rap has 5 notable commercial properties in the City of Newburgh. Besides the Liberty Street School, the collection includes the historically valuable Weigand’s Tavern, 2 much coveted warehouses in the Heights – 45 Clark and 75 Carson, and 30 Chambers Street. The residential collection is interesting as well. All are historical buildings in need of repair. The most interesting to me was 129 South William Street. It was one of the few buildings missing to complete the row that WeRevitalize bought last year across from Atlas. And if all of this seems like a lot, they have also started a construction company called Square & Spruce.
News like this can cause all kinds of reactions. The Dodd’s have made many things clear on their website:
- They like Newburgh just as it is now.
- They do not want to promote a rapid gentrification of the region that displaces locals.
- They want to provide mentorship and renewal to Newburgh to raise it up without destroying its unique character.
- They want to help create jobs and opportunities for new and existing residents.
This southern section of Liberty Street has been lacking the momentum that has been seen between Broadway and Spring Street. Completion of the school would catapult development of the many dilapidated and crumbling buildings. The Dodd’s aren’t the only ones doing work on Liberty though.
A new developer called the Soda Cova Group is also tackling key buildings like 2 Liberty Street directly across the street from the school and 15 Liberty Street three doors down from the school. They plan to restore the storefronts, restoring the mixed use of the buildings. A different developer has bought 17 Liberty, but with no plans as of yet to remove the storefront apartment.
Newburgh City Living has acquired 36 Liberty Street. They recently just completed 24 Courtney Avenue that is under contract.
Further north the Labor Temple at 109 Liberty has been bought by the owners of the Motorcycle Museum. They have plans to put in a bicycle museum and restore the storefronts. We might be seeing this work take place very soon.
It goes without saying that this new work is just as significant as the work done by others many years ago. There are dozens of other buildings that need restoring and development in this corridor. It is definitely an exciting time, but there is much work left to do.