04/11/19 7:30am

In an April 29, 2016 posting, NR featured 284 Liberty Street . Two months later, it found new owners.

NR: How did you find Newburgh and what made you decide to move here?

Liz: Michael and I love the Hudson Valley and along with friends we were looking for a location to build a sustainable community in a place that was walkable, historic, and with an edgy vibe.  We were concerned about the challenges but kept returning. It grew on us.

 

NR: What kind of loan did you end up getting, and how hard was it to find a lender?

Liz: We helped my sister with her home on Lander Street. We learned how difficult it is to get a construction loan, especially when you want to build to high-energy standards.  As serial renovators, we needed funding to startup our company, dwellstead, which helps others with similar projects.  

Michael: We ultimately decided to fund from proceeds of the sale of our loft.  This meant saying goodbye to 45+ years of life in Lower Manhattan.

Historic Tax Credits are a key part of our financing. The $36K we got back on this building drove net costs down by 15%. We’re doing tax credits as a service for those who find the process cumbersome and time consuming.

NR: What work had to be done to your building and what services did you use?

Liz: It had a CofO, but previous alterations were not code compliant. There were gas-fired heaters in each room!   

Working with our business partner and architect, C. B. Wayne, we did a gut renovation.  He first made us reinforce the joists because he has been to many of our crazy loft dance parties and was afraid of what would happen with 150 people jumping up and down together in unison.  

Gas-fired heating in each room. Yikes!

Michael: Climate change is becoming an urgently felt problem. Just the other day, millions of students around the world walked out of class for 11 minutes, representing the number of years we may have left to fix this problem.

As individuals, reducing the energy demand of one’s own home is something we each can each do now. I was originally inspired by Passive House homes, designed to be “so energy-efficient you can heat them with a hair dryer”.  But estimates we got were 50% more than current top selling prices for homes in Newburgh. We wanted a high performance approach budgeted for the Newburgh market. C. B., with extensive experience in high-energy-conservation construction, said that what matters is hitting a HERS* rating of 20-40. He provided other methods that are simple, intuitive, time-tested and more affordable.

Often, the goals of preservation and energy conservation clash.  Since C. B. also has a passion for preservation, he was the ideal partner for finding sensitive, thoughtful ways of maintaining the historic beauty of the building, while getting us to our performance goals.

Left: C-joists added for added stiffness and a second insulation layer. Right: Joist reinforcement. Insulation between joists is important and often overlooked.

Liz: The layouts of each floor had been carved up to maximize occupancy, with sheet rock covering windows and doors every which way. We returned as best we could to the elegance of the original layout. By removing a stairway, we were able to enlarge the bath and add a walk-in closet for the ground floor one-bedroom rental.

The main floor has the parlor, dining room, pantry and kitchen.  There were previously 3 bedrooms upstairs but we converted one into what has become a heavenly master-bath and laundry.  

Left: Floors were covered with linoleum, carpeting, paint and glue. Right: Repaired and restored wood floor.

Michael: The plumbing, heating and electrical are new. Because the building is tight, we installed ERVs for fresh air. Sprinklers were an unexpected expense, but I lived for 41 years in a manufacturing building with them, they are a part of my psyche. The pipes are buried within the walls: you hardly know they’re there.

We added 5” of rockwool insulation in the walls and 17” under the roof.  Rockwool is 3 times more fire-resistant than foam, which burns rapidly and produces intense heat: it’s like pouring gasoline into the walls. Rockwool ads say “Keep a fire in your house from becoming a house on fire”. This is an important consideration for historic districts.

Left: Inner storm window double-hung Center: Inner storm window, pressure-mounted single, nearly invisible Right: Inner storm window detail

Liz worked hard at restoring the windows on her own but got great help from the floor guy and his girlfriend towards the end, and storm windows – built by Innerglass – were placed on the inside. They are 7 times tighter than exterior storms. At first, they were not an easy sell with the city’s compliance department, but in the end we found the guys there to be good to work with. We didn’t receive any stop-work orders: maybe because we bugged them with so many questions that they eventually just wanted to run the other way. We reconstructed moldings to match the original design.

The cabinets in the existing kitchen pictured above were weak, made of 1/8” plywood. They still have life in them and may get refurbished for our next project. The cabinets below came from the old loft in Manhattan. We modified and re-purposed them here.

 

Liz: We try to re-use/recycle and have fun with it. Our bathroom vanity is fabricated out of a mid-century credenza that I found at a thrift store. We took our custom designed kitchen cabinets with us from our Manhattan loft and re-purposed them here. We added Italian marble counters on either side of the stove, and went with butcher block for the island.

Finding good, honest help wasn’t easy, but most everything went well: we had six plumbers, five carpenters, two electricians, a mason, a floor guy, a tile guy and one very cranky plasterer.

NR: What has your experience been like living on Liberty Street? How are the neighbors?

Michael: It’s quiet. People smile and say hi. Sometimes I smile back (Liz: Practice, Michael!). To one side are a couple who are in arts/education. They love gardening, and trees. Across the street is a Boys and Girls Club. It’s nice to hear the sound of children playing.

Liz: This fall my sister’s previous tenant bought the house two doors north of us. He’s become like family.  

There’s bodega a block away – can’t beat that!

Friends and family pop over and it’s like old times.  Our floor guy loves Michael’s collection of gospel LPs. Marino, our masonry guy, drops by with produce from his church pantry.  If we’re not home, he leaves it at the door. No one ever takes it. Last time, he brought me a ton of limes, carrots, and blood oranges.  We made Key Lime pie, carrot cake, and ricotta cheesecake with blood orange compote and invited everyone over. Take that, Martha Stewart!

We converted a mid-century credenza into our master bath vanity.

NR: Why is this your dream home?

Michael: This house allowed us to see if we could execute to a vision. When we got our heating bill, it was 15% of what buildings of this type and size average: think of what you can do with that extra $s. We still have to do our HERS audit, but this is an indication that we will hit our target, and we did it at a price that’s right for Newburghers.


I love the attic. I have my office and studio space there. The view out the east window is peaceful and conducive to work. I like being able to jump on my bike and be in the countryside in 5 minutes.

Liz: The house has great soul. It’s cozy, unpretentious and warm. We have a beautiful backyard for our dog Mitsy to run around in. And I LOVE that I can walk to my sister’s house in 5 minutes!

NR: What have been some of the perks and challenges of living in Newburgh?

Liz: I don’t need a car. The restaurants, cafes, parks, and grocery stores are a walk, bus, cab or ferry ride away.

Michael: There are economic and housing trends that are not sustainable. Hundreds of charming but distressed buildings wait to be turned back into beautiful homes, yet there is a clamor for affordable housing. We see opportunity in this. That is why we started dwellstead. We are looking forward to finishing the exterior of this building, and ramping up our next.

NR: What advice would you give others who are considering moving to Newburgh?

Liz: Do your homework. Talk to people who have done the kinds of renovations you aspire to.  Give considerable thought to building sustainably: fixing up these distressed buildings so that they consume as little energy as possible is a great opportunity to contribute to slowing climate change because buildings are the biggest contributors to carbon emissions.  Yes, more than industry and more than cars. At the same time you will save money over the long run and be very comfy in your warm home.

Plan carefully. Vet your trades as if your life depended on it.

Take advantage of historic tax credits! It’s a lot of work but it’s worth it! (We can help: call dwellstead at 917-743-7568 or 917-628-8835, or visit our office at Grit Works at 115 Broadway in Newburgh, where we will be having our next workshop soon.)   

Finally: finding a property you can buy for $5k and renovate for $100k is a long shot. Maybe you have to say that to yourself in order to commit yourself to a process that is often maddening, but denial is painful and the truth will save you.

Michael’s old drafting table has been modified and turned into our dining table. The round thing in the ceiling is an ERV vent that supplies fresh air.

 

Our architect C. B. Wayne explaining HERS ratings at our workshop in the summer of 2018

 

The downstairs one-bedroom apartment.

 

Mitsy now provides the warmth from the fireplace.

 

Exterior: before… …and when complete.

06/01/18 7:30am

img_8480Photos below © dwellstead

Meet Ana, a native New Yorker, originally from the Dominican Republic, who navigated purchasing a city-owned property and the 203k loan system. She owns a cozy 3-story building on Lander Street that she shares with her family.

Opposite to the negative fame that Lander usually gets, Ana has stories of friendly neighbors who share the produce from their garden and who look out for her when she leaves her car lights on. This kind of neighborly camaraderie has made Ana fall in love with her dream home.

Like with any old home, there is plenty of work to do, but Ana and her family are determined to do their part to make their neighborhood beautiful.

How did you find Newburgh and what made you decide to move here?

When I came from the Dominican Republic I moved to Manhattan and that’s where I lived all of my adult life. I was getting ready to retire. My sister Liz was talking up Newburgh for a long time. We started to explore the city. There were many distressed properties for sale that were owned by the city. Liz said that the prices were low enough that, with tax credits and tax exemptions I could fix up and own my own home and rent out a unit to cover some of the expenses. It was a scary step for me to be a first-time homeowner.  Finally, in 2015 I bought a 3-story building.

What kind of loan did you end up getting, and how hard was it to find a lender?

I got an FHA construction loan. It was very hard to find a bank and lot of red tape.  I started with one bank and then changed. It took many months to finally close.  The problem was that my building has a storefront, and FHA does not provide loans for mixed-use buildings. We were able to convince them to exclude the storefront and simply finance the rest of the building. We think we are the first storefront building to get an FHA loan in the area.

What work had to be done to your building and what services did you use?

The building had been abandoned for eight years. There was garbage all over, and many abandoned cars and a six ton pile of bricks in the yard. It had been divided like a rooming house and the work was terrible. The roof hatch was open and water was pouring through. The roof needed repair, space needed to be re-designed, and we had to put in new kitchens and bathrooms.  My sister’s husband, Michael, brought in his classmate from Cooper Union, Curtis Wayne, an architect, to do the blueprints. He also has an engineering background and expertise in making historic homes more energy efficient (My heating bill is half the cost of my next-door neighbor whose house is 25% smaller!). We hired a general contractor to handle the renovation.

What has your experience been like living on Lander Street? How are the neighbors?

We heard very bad stories about how Lander Street was so dangerous. The FHA consultant asked Michael “What’s the matter? Don’t you love your sister-in-law? Why are you putting her here?” It’s very noisy in the summer, and the streets are in poor condition, so we have our issues, but my neighbors are wonderful. They are helpful and watch out for me. And I love the children playing in the area.

Why is this your dream home?

The home has lots of windows on the south side, so there is a lot of light. It had two empty lots next to it, and I was able to buy them together and convert the three properties into one. I love to garden, and the extra land gives me the space to do that. My brother and his wife live on the floor below me, and Liz and her husband will be living two blocks away on Liberty Street and starting a business called dwellstead to convert more homes like this one, so the family will be together.

What have been some of the perks and challenges of living in Newburgh?

I don’t drive but public transportation is good. I can take the bus to the supermarket and my favorite stores. I walk mostly but I have to stay on the street because the sidewalks are terrible. The other challenge is the taxes and fees for services–too high–and the billing is confusing. What I like most is the medical attention I get here—it’s excellent! My councilwoman, Karen Mejia, is accessible. I do wish some of the city official government offices were easier to work with.

 

What advice would you give others who are considering moving to Newburgh?

Have lots of patience. Get lots of help. Learn as much as you can about how things work and make friends! If you do, you will be very happy here.

See more project photos below:

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01/20/15 6:50am

Brandts

Traditionally Meet a Newburgher is an interview. However, I thought this sweet letter from this new-to-Newburgh couple was a great example who is moving to Newburgh, how they find it, and where they are buying houses. It was my pleasure Ben, Betsy and Percy! Their letter is below:

“Just wanted to say “Hello” and Thank You for your blog and all the work you do with it. We just purchased a home on Renwick St. at the end of October and have already moved in with our dog, Percy. My wife, Betsy, is a writer and I’m an artist and carpenter. Your blog was/is a great way for us to learn more about Newburgh as we began exploring it last year. We’re very happy to be here now and excited to be part of the community.

I’m carpenter with a specialty in restoration, and I’m planning to re-start my wood window restoration business as well as offer free and low-cost workshops for do-it-yourselfers as soon as we get our place tightened up a bit, and I get my workshop set up (and hopefully more of an on-line presence).

A year ago we thought Benkard and Renwick and Carson seemed pretty sketchy, but the more time we spent here the more we realized that it’s actually totally fine. A few houses on Benkard have been fixed up really nice… Sure it’s not perfect, but it’s definitely lively and depressing at turns, which make it interesting… Thanks again for all your efforts and hard work.”

Percy

10/29/14 7:30am

Ozioma

Meet Ozioma Egwuonwu, an extremely accomplished young woman at the forefront of Newburgh’s revitalization. She has given a Tedx Talk, spoken at the UN and even created her own holiday, World Dream Day. You might have seen her dream board on the corner of Broadway and Liberty or heard of her participation in the I AM Illuminated event with the Mayor. With her business, BurnBright LLC, she is making moves in Newburgh. She is now based out of the new collaborative workspace on Broadway called Space Create. Learn about her international journey and why she has decided to come back to Newburgh.

Where are you from and how did you end up in the City of Newburgh?
I am originally from Nigeria. That is where I was born. My family came to America when I was very young. My father was a diplomat and after his term concluded, we decided to stay in America. I lived my early years in Manhattan and then the Bronx. My family moved up to the Newburgh/New Windsor area when I was 13 years old.

What was it like growing up here?
It was a beautiful struggle because I attended Valley Central High School, but always looked to Newburgh for a certain degree of freedom of expression and identity. When my mother purchased a home in Newburgh, it gave me permission and license to begin to explore.

At 16, I began working at the Newburgh Mall and after work would host sleepovers at my Newburgh home on Friday nights. Newburgh became the place where I would come to play. I remember having a group of diverse friends from all different ethnic backgrounds. The friendships reflected the make-up of the city. Hispanic, Black, White.

During my teenage years, when my friends and I came together we had a lot of fun sharing our lives and creating a safe space beyond the violence. My home on Hasbrouck at that time became a safe haven, and years later some of those friends ended up raising their families in that home.

Growing up in and around Newburgh had many challenges for me, but also created a great foundation for my creativity and tenacity.

Where did your journey take you after high school?
After high school I received a Presidential Scholarship to attend the University at Albany where I received a BA/MA in English studies. Right after, I was selected to work at the Sundance Filmmakers Lab Utah where Robert Redford made a huge impression on me with a speech on the importance of creativity + truth. It set the pace for me.

I returned to NYC I and went straight into the world of production and rose through the ranks to become a full-fledged commercial producer at Saatchi and Saatchi working OLAY. I also pursued a 2nd masters degree in Television, Radio and New Media from Brooklyn College.

After 5 years of being a producer, I decided to switch careers and became a strategist. The 1st turn strategic brand re-invention I worked on was helping to rebrand JC Penney with the Every Day Matters Campaign.

I became a Vice President at around 26 and left about 2 years ago from my post as VP of Cultural Strategy and Innovation at a Madison Avenue Agency to begin to evolve my strategic work in the areas of helping individuals, businesses and communities transform. I now consult with businesses, brands and non-profit entities as needed.

Tell us about your business, Burn Bright. What is it about? What do you hope to achieve?
BurnBright is a transformational coaching, consulting and training business that focused on igniting human potential.

When I was in my mid twenties, I developed a methodology and a series of processes that were very effective in helping people gain clarity around where they were in life and where they wanted to go. I called it the BurnBright Method.

In 2011, I began doing more social good and community empowerment work and ever since then many communities and non-profit organizations nationally and internationally have asked me to share insights and strategies on how they can move forward.

In 2012 BurnBright launched World Dream Day a global holiday that has been celebrated in close to 50 counties around the world and reached about 1 million social media impressions the year. This year, however, things really took off for BurnBright with collaborating with the Mayor and the I AM Illuminated event, initiatives at the United Nations, appearances on MSNBC and also even being invited to support global launches with organizations at UK Parliament.

I love being of service and supporting the path towards individual and collective progress. I love helping individuals, businesses and communities move forward and BurnBright!

Ozioma 1

What other exciting projects are you a part of in the city? 
When I returned to Newburgh I conducted a large scale transformational study and published a report that details a 6-point strategy on how to create even more + change in Newburgh. Columbia University invited me to share that research and my other insights as one of the initial inputs to their work, since then I have played a supporting role as a member of the design review committee and also community stakeholder on their local site intervention. My main desire was to ensure that their ideas reflect a dynamic balance between what Newburgh currently is and what Newburgh CAN be.

You have had an impressive career teaching at Columbia University, a Tedx Talk, and even working at the UN. Your could take your work anywhere. Why was it important to circle back to Newburgh?
A large part of my life has always been led by asking “where is the need?” and going there. I live a life of service and there is nothing that brings me greater joy at the moment than playing a powerful role and making major contributions to the landscape that helped to shape my formative years. I believe we should always give what we can, as much as we can, for as long as we can. It consider it to be an honor to be a part of this phase of Newburgh’s evolving narrative.

I recently moved my global headquarters to Newburgh. BurnBright International LLC is now located at Space Create at 115 Broadway, where we have launched Dream-UP NBNY, which was a local event to benefit the community goals and dreams and highlight the importance of peace in the city of Newburgh and the world.

Most recently, I have already launched BurnBright Business Labs. Where we provide services that support start-ups, establish business owners, and creative professionals with igniting entrepreneurial success in the Hudson Valley and beyond.

I will also be training people on how to create Personalized MasterPlans that support their lives and their dreams. Many people here have goals and dreams without the strategies to make them happen. BurnBright will provide services that support them in that. We even have a class called DreamYoga-a new form of Yoga I developed to help people connect to their ideas, goals and dreams on a deeper level.

My main desire is to be a resource for business, personal and community development.

Ozioma 3

How do you envision the revitalization of Newburgh?   
My vision is of a Newburgh where the beauty that already exists is able to shine through for all to see.

When analyzed objectively, the City of Newburgh possesses all of the trappings essential to create a thriving city. Green space, arts and culture, architecture, public transportation, etc. When analyzed closely, however, you begin to realize that the challenges that face Newburgh are quite complex. These challenges are wicked problems that are currently blocking Newburgh’s Light: drug problems, rampant corruption, and a lack of unity, integration and collaboration across economic and color lines among many others.

I believe these challenges can lessen and come to a screeching halt when a community is committed to putting an end to whatever is blocking it’s light of progress. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I’m a strong believer in a comeback story, and I believe Newburgh has a new story to tell. I believe the time to tell it is NOW.

A better, brighter Newburgh is indeed not only a possibility, but inevitable if we are willing to join forces and do the work.

I believe that what it required in Newburgh are key strategic interventions that support and create transformation where it is needed most. My research led me to create a transformation plan based on these areas and I and others have begun to address change in the following key areas:

  1. Empower Newburgh Youth to become agents of change
  2. Create a coherence strategy that pulls key stakeholders and community together.
  3. Turn Newburgh into a Transformational Brand: Newburgh needs a New Story
  4. Stir the air with community-driven innovation. Newburgh as Open Source City
  5. Ignite “Next Generation Entrepreneurship” that attracts business growth
  6. Leverage the cultural equity of Orange County and The Hudson Valley

What advice would you give someone looking to start a new dream in Newburgh?
Newburgh is a great place to bring forth new dreams as long as the person is willing to roll up their sleeves and dig in. This is the perfect place and time to be in Newburgh.

I would suggest that it’s important to first come and learn about what is going on in the community from all aspects of the community. Newburgh can be quite misleading on the surface. When you take the time to listen to people and listen to the story that Newburgh is ready to tell, you can find your place in the unfolding narrative.

Hopefully that place is to be a contribution. To fill this city up with love, light and innovation.  There is so much that is needed here and I believe that more good people will come to play the role of lighting Newburgh up from the inside out!

Ozioma 2

And last but not least, what is your favorite building or location in the city?
Right now my favorite location in Newburgh is at the corner of Liberty and Broadway where we installed a Dream Wall. I love stopping by each day and bearing witness to the way in which this wall is opening this city up in ways I couldn’t imagine. The other day it was wiped clean and within hours filled up once more.

On that wall, all cultures and age ranges have poured out their hopes and dreams for a better Newburgh. That corner holds my heart.

Thank you Ozioma for sharing your story!

06/25/14 7:30am

Noah and Angela

Meet Noah and Angela Shapiro, newlyweds and new parents. The Shapiro family has been in Newburgh since the 1880’s with their business, Shaprio’s Auction Mart that has transformed itself into today’s Shapiro’s Furniture Barn. It’s one of the many hidden treasures of Newburgh. Learn about why they are dedicated and determined to keep their business here and why other businesses should consider a move to the city. Thanks Noah and Angela!

Shaprio's Furniture Barn

Shapiro’s Furniture Barn has a long history in Newburgh. Can you tell us about how your family started the business since 1889?
We originally started as a horse auction mart before cars were invented. In 1938 we diversified and began to carry used furniture. Then, beginning in 1952 we started to carry a wide selection of bedroom, living room, and dining room furniture, displayed in our beautifully decorated 30,000 square foot showroom. We carry some of the most recognized names in furniture and mattresses. Our family continues to always search for the best buys and values in the furniture market, and pass the savings on to the customers. We are the 4th generation of Shapiro’s to carry on the business.

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Why is it important that your business remain in the City of Newburgh?
Why would we turn our back to the customers who have become family and friends over the years? They have supported our family, and our employees families through the years and in return allowed us to provide a great service and business. After 100 years we feel we have found our niche; but always striving to be better. We have our website http://www.shapirosfurniturebarn.com/ which allows us to reach a broader customer base but we do very little advertising because we have such a wonderful customer word of mouth promotion!

Angela, you are Noah are newlyweds. What was your first impression when Noah brought you to Newburgh? What has it been like since then?
Angela-I first visited Newburgh in the Fall of 2010 and my first impression was superb. Noah and I patronized local businesses such as Broadway Cafe where I was welcomed with a hug from “mom”, entertained by George running the flattop and savored the most delicious pancakes. It was lovely too as we were in the courtship phase and everywhere we went people knew and loved Noah. We were always greeted with a friendly hello, handshake, hug and warm welcome. After moving here from Boulder, Colorado my relationship with the community only continues to grow and keep developing as I have the opportunity and pleasure to meet new people and frequent local businesses.

Do you employ local city residents? Why is that important?
We do employ local city residents and believe in supporting the community that has supported our business and family for so many years. We have a wonderful team at Shapiro’s Furniture Barn. Our delivery drivers Rigo and Juan have been with us for over 12 years and William is our numero uno sales man on the floor. He is fluent in Spanish, which is a wonderful resource for our Spanish speaking clientele.

What inspires you about Newburgh?
The people and the community, there is a palpable heartbeat, kindness and spirit here. I love seeing new businesses like APG Pilates and Martha opening up. It is very inspiring to see and connect with the new owners.

Do you think the City of Newburgh is worthy of businesses and investment?
Absolutely! The landscape and curb appeal here is very desirable. People used to come from New York City on weekends to come shopping on Broadway. Broadway has a very European feel to it. I would love to see it filled with beautiful store fronts, delicious restaurants and shops to patronize.

Jakob

What is your favorite building or spot in the city?
Besides Shapiro’s Furniture Barn 🙂 We really enjoy walking around Downing Park, it’s nice to see and visit Mayor Joan Shapiro Street. She is Noah’s grandmother and we still are reminisced of her presence on a weekly basis from customers. Also, St. Lukes Hospital. We recently had our baby boy Jakob Shapiro there and everyone was so competent, thorough and wonderful to us. We are lucky to have an excellent community hospital.

What advice would you give new businesses looking to move or start up in Newburgh?
Open a business that would really benefit the community; therefor in return directly benefits the business owner. There used to be so many manufacturing jobs in the city. It would be vital to see a business that would offer jobs to the community. However, Howard Schultz said “The lifeblood of job creation in America is small business, but they can’t get access to credit.” That may be more apropos for this day and age. It is possible to survive and thrive here as a small business. We have been here for over 100 years and Sally’s Fish Market on William Street has been there for over 60 years. It’s possible and we welcome you!

Shapiro's Furniture Barn Newburgh

Shapiro's Collage.jpg

05/21/14 7:30am

JudyThomasPhoto Edit

Meet Judy, a new Brooklyn transplant to the City of Newburgh. She is excited about all things Newburgh, especially her new studio with Hudson River views which she calls the Barge Watch. Learn all about her and why she decided to come to the City of Newburgh. Thanks for participating Judy!

Tell us about yourself. Where are from and what do you do for a living?
I grew up in the Midwest, lived some time in Europe, then moved to New York for graduate school in painting at Hunter College.  After Hunter, I joined the exodus of artists out of the East Village to Brooklyn, setting up a studio in an industrial loft near the Navy Yard. The pioneering, renegade spirit of the early 90’s helped to shape the direction of my art.  With the emergence of empty storefronts and warehouses as exhibition space, I began to explore site-specific sculptural installation as an art form.  In order to support my artwork, I have sustained a second career for a time as a handbag, belt and accessories designer.  I started teaching a few years ago and enjoy that as well. I guess you could say I am a Judy of all trades.   I will have my sculptural installation ‘Expansion’ exhibited at the Dorsky Museum at SUNY New Paltz from June 21st – November 9th, as part of the exhibition entitled ‘Worlds of Wonder’.  I am thrilled for this opportunity!

How did you find Newburgh and what attracted you?
Friends have migrated to the Hudson Valley from Brooklyn over the years, but no one actually lived in Newburgh. I relocated from the Boston area, where I lived for almost a decade, so moving to Newburgh was like coming home to me. The first day I looked around Newburgh, I knew this was where I wanted to settle.  Each person I met was welcoming and helpful in my search for studio space. Ultimately, I found my ideal studio on Craig’s list – a diamond in the rough, which is also how I see Newburgh. There is a lot of untapped potential in this city.  I also love the outdoors. There are hiking trails with incredible views within a half-hour drive, as well as kayaking, cycling, rock climbing and secret swimming holes.

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What kind of studio space do you work in? What is it like working there?
My studio is in a brick industrial building, around 1,500 square feet. It reminds me of my old Brooklyn loft, except now I have a view. Incredible!  It has been a lot of work getting the studio in order, but I love it. The studio was absolutely freezing this winter, but looking out at the frozen Hudson River and the barges cutting through the channel was purely fascinating, and so I created a Barge Watch facebook fan page, how nerdy is that?!  And then this winter a friend helped me renovate the back room space at my studio and set up an exhibition space.  So, now Barge Watch is the name for my studio as well as the ‘gallery’. Please ‘Like’ BARGE WATCH on FB, and stay in the loop!

Why do you think other artists would find Newburgh studio space ideal?
The amount of studio space you can get in Newburgh is comparable to the prices in Brooklyn in the late eighties.  There are options to rent or buy,  a lot of bang for your buck.

What do you enjoy about life in the City of Newburgh?

The other day, a Newburgh friend questioned me “You have only lived here six months?, really?” That sums up how welcoming everyone is here.  There is a genuine spirit of community here.  It’s a city, but also a small town in many ways. There is so much history here, and I love the architectural details of the old homes and churches.

What have been some of the perks and challenges of living in Newburgh?

Everyday I discover new perks – The Downing Film Center shows acclaimed first run films, under $10.  Top notch Yoga and Pilates studios in walking distance.  Free live music at the local pubs. I use my car too much though – for basic things like banking and grocery shopping, and that is different than most of the cities I have lived in.  If I didn’t have a car, it would still be possible to use the numerous taxi services.  As the downtown gets more inhabitants, I hope there will be more services down the road.

What advice would you give others who are considering moving to Newburgh?
Spend a few days and nights looking around, getting comfortable.  Talk to people, ask questions, and if you are interested in renting a commercial space for a studio, be sure to negotiate to get what you want. Or you may just fall in love with one of the historical houses and buy, another great option!