The City of Newburgh is accepting requests for proposals for the purchase and rehabilitation of some of the most historically significant buildings in the city. Up for sale are the Dutch Reformed Church, the City Club aka William Culbert House and 2 Montgomery, a vacant urban renewal lot. RFP’s are due by Wednesday, February 1st, 2017.
A master developer is sought to collaborate with the City in the creation of viable residential, commercial, and public space. The empty lot is included for the purposes of providing for an income generating project to support the preservation and restoration of the City Club and the DRC, and to ensure a public use of the DRC. To view the RFP register with BidNet or check back with the city’s website to see if it has been published there.
The City has given a nice summary of historical details of the properties. Let’s take a look at each of the offerings.
Historic Dutch Reformed Church
Recognized as the ‘Beacon on the Hill”, this National Historic Landmark building was recognized as a “Save America’s Treasures” site by the federal government, was named one of the World Monument Fund 100 most endangered heritage sites and was named one of the “7 to Save” by the Preservation League of New York State in 2015. An outstanding Greek Revival building designed in 1835 by world-renowned architect Alexander Jackson Davis, the monumental structure borrows proportions and details from classical Greek precedents and was intended as a symbol of the community’s enlightened taste.
©Michael Bowman, 2012
Today, however, after several decades on non-use and neglect, the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) is in a dire state of disrepair needing immediate stabilization and extensive restoration. The magnificent, acoustically acclaimed interior has deteriorated significantly, specifically following a collapse of a large portion of the vaulted coffered ceiling in 2014. The DRC has been the site for a National Park Service and World Monument Fund Summer School in Restoration Arts in the early 2010s. Presently, the Preservation League of New York State has undertaken an update of the engineering study which will be available to potential developers. The nomination for the Dutch Reformed Church’s National Historic Landmark status is available upon request.
The City of Newburgh is seeking a full restoration of the DRC and re-establishment of its historic role as a civic center for the City, where people can gather together in common purpose to discuss ideas, celebrate our heritage and culture, host important events, and enjoy the arts. The final use and management of the DRC should be considered in consultation with the adjacent community in order to allow for some or all of those uses mentioned above, and to ensure long-lasting preservation of the structure.
The DRC, with its commanding hillside location, is highly visible from the river. Its lot size is approximately 160’ by 215’ (tax map parcel: section 19 block 1 lot 25). A community garden has been created along the southern end of the lot adjacent to the Newburgh Free Library and Newburgh Enlarged City School District administration building.
The City Club aka William Culbert House
Just south of the Dutch Reformed Church, is 120 Grand Street – commonly referred to as the “City Club” building. Like the DRC, it is located in the heart of Newburgh’s East End Historic District.
This distinctive brick and sandstone building was based on a collaborative design by Andrew Jackson Downing and Calvert Vaux. It was built between 1852 and 1857. A description of the building was included in the 1857 Vaux publication “Villas and Cottages” as Design No. 22 (“Suburban House with Curved Roof”). The building was originally designed as the home/office of William Culbert. In 1904, it became headquarters of the Newburgh City Club, an organization catering to the city’s leading businessmen and politicians. Shortly thereafter some additions were made to the original structure.
The building was carefully restored in the 1970’s but succumbed to a fire in 1981. Sadly, all that remains of the original structure are the foundation walls and exterior walls of the first and second stories. The first and second floors were listed as having a combined square footage of 7,128 square feet. The building has no interior walls or roof. The structure’s exterior walls are supported by interior steel beams.
The City Club building is prominently located on a 45’ x 122’ lot (tax map parcel: section 24 block 2 lot 17) at the corner of Grand and Second Streets. The property borders a parcel containing the Newburgh Free Library as well as the offices of the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. The 1841 County Courthouse and St. George’s Episcopal Church, one of the oldest buildings in the City of Newburgh, sit across the street – to the west of the City Club building. A municipal parking lot is situated across Second Street, to the building’s south.
Both the City Club and the DRC are located in the Downtown Neighborhood zoning district. Interested developers are urged to consult the City of Newburgh’s Zoning Ordinance for information on the variety of uses permitted within the Downtown Neighborhood District.
A full exterior restoration would be preferred, however alternative plans for rehabilitation or reuse may be considered. Additionally, some public access or community use would be preferred. However, the City may consider projects or developments that offer less public access in exchange for a more substantial restoration.
Parcel of Former Urban Renewal Land
Bundled with the two historically significant buildings is 2 Montgomery Street, a 1.8 acre block of former urban renewal land bounded by Montgomery Street, Second Street, Colden Street, and Orange County Community College. This vacant, commercial parcel possesses panoramic, unobstructed views of the Hudson River and Mount Beacon.
The property is also known as 1-3 Colden Street, 2-34 Montgomery Street and 56 Second Street (tax map parcel: section 24 block 10 and lot 1.2). It was formed by combining several small lots into one larger parcel. Years ago, a city street transected the property; remnants of the street’s retaining walls emerge as outcroppings throughout certain sections of the lot. The parcel has access to both municipal water and sewer.
Mid to high-rise buildings, with shop fronts on the first floor to foster pedestrian activity, are encouraged in this zoning district. Projects that meet the zoning requirements without the need for substantial variances are expected. Details of the Waterfront Gateway Zone can be found at http://ecode.com/30538943.