Kingston's Wealthy Legacy Gets New Life

The Wall Street Journal

Upstate Community on Hudson River Appeals to Second-Home Buyers. 2013

With its rich history and burgeoning small-business and dining scene, upstate New York's Kingston is increasingly on the radar of second-home buyers.  Located on the western bank of the Hudson River, Kingston is about 90 miles north of New York City, and there is daily bus service connection with the Port Authority terminal. The Rhinecliff-Kingston Amtrak station also is nearby.

Kingston was initially settled in the mid-17th century and became the state's first capital during the Revolutionary War. The area was a hub for coal, bluestone and cement shipping for much of the 19th century.  In the 20th century, prosperity came in the form of a large International Business Machines plant that was in operation between the mid-1940s and mid-1990s, employing thousands and leaving a large vacuum in the region's economy when it closed.  Kingston "was very depressed after IBM left, which destroyed our economy and housing market, but we have had a huge influx of people since 9/11 who have transplanted to Kingston—a lot of artists, musicians and website designers," said Michael A. Schneller, a broker with Win Morrison Realty who was born and raised in Kingston.  Mr. Schneller said the city, with a population of around 24,000, is now becoming "hipster-ish" as more New York City residents buy and rent houses and apartments locally.

"It's got interesting architecture and the prices are right," he said. "We have the Catskill Mountains, the Hudson River and farms, but it's not poky."

The median sales price in Kingston is $123,700, according to the real-estate listings website Trulia.com. Housing styles run the gamut from modest 20thcentury ranches to grand 19th-century Victorians to pre-Revolutionary stone residences. The city's architecture has lent itself to having three districts on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Rondout-West Strand District, comprising 259 buildings, is situated on the harbor and was the area's commercial center in the 1800s.

The Chestnut Street District is a residential area that was popular with wealthy businessmen in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, and its large houses are built in styles that were popular in that era, including Italian Villa and Colonial Revival.

The Stockade District, also called Uptown Kingston, is made up of commercial and residential properties that include 21 Dutch-style stone buildings, many of which were built before 1700.

Gerald Celente, who publishes Trends Journal, a publication that forecasts social and economic trends, moved into an office in the Uptown area in 2007 and purchased three other historic buildings nearby last year. "This was one of the grandest cities in the United States," according to Mr. Celente, who is originally from the Bronx and says he spent $1.5 million on the properties.  "I want to restore colonial Kingston," he said. If Virginia "can have a fake colonial Williamsburg, we can have a real colonial Kingston."  The three stone buildings Mr. Celente purchased are all on one corner anddate from the mid-1600s to late 1700s; he has been renovating them and renting office space.

Elsewhere in Uptown new restaurants have opened in recent years, including Elephant, a tapas and wine bar; the Stockade Tavern, which specializes in vintage cocktails; and the American bistro Boitson's.  Maria Philippis, Boitson's owner, said she decided to open in Kingston in part because the city reminded her of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where she lived in the early 1990s.  

"It's burgeoning and raw and it has the infrastructure like Williamsburg, but Kingston is prettier," she said.

Parks: Kingston's parks include the 19-acre Forsyth Park, which has trails, tennis courts and a nature center with a small zoo. Kingston Point Park, which is on the Hudson River, is an 87-acre space established in the late 19th century that includes a beach area for swimming, boating and kayaking.

Schools: The Kingston City School District includes the Harry L. Edson Elementary School, which has an enrollment of approximately 450 students and was rated as in good standing by the state for 2010-11 in English language arts, math and science. Kingston High School has an enrollment of around 2,300 students. For the 2011-12 school year, 88% of the high school's graduates received a Regents Diploma, according to its New York state School Report Card.

Dining: At Le Canard Enchaine, an upscale French bistro, most entrees run from $20 to $30. Local brewery Keegan Ales serves pub fare such as steak and pulled-pork sandwiches that cost around $10.

Shopping: The Hudson Valley mall has a multiplex, as well as retailers such as Target and Sears. Mom-and-pop shops include Half Moon Books, a used bookstore, and Ellipse, a boutique that sells clothing made by independent designers.

Entertainment: The 1,500-seat Ulster County Performing Arts Center has regular music, dance and theater programming.

Read more here on Trend Research  

Taken from: The Wall Street Journal //  NY REAL ESTATE RESIDENTIAL Sep 20, 2013,  // A18 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal