Page 3 of 4
Like RUPCO, the city of Kingston also has a stake in addressing the affordable housing problem, pursuing its own initiatives like crafting actionable Equitable Development and Fair Housing plans, as well as recently establishing the Kingston City Land Bank. "I think if there was one community in the Hudson Valley that is really earnestly engaged in the concerns of gentrification, it's Kingston," acknowledges O'Connor.
Midtown has also evolved into a hub for notable nonprofit ventures. Formed in 2015 with a mission of "fostering resilience and regeneration in the Hudson Valley," the Good Work Institute strives to connect like-minded organizations and community members working toward positive change. By year's end, they'll move into their first official headquarters in the old Girl Scout building on St. James Street, though executive director Matt Stinchcomb says, "It's much less of a headquarters than a community hub that we'll be developing." The building will provide home to some half-dozen area nonprofits (including Rise Up Kington, one of several local beneficiaries of the North Star Fund's Hudson Valley Momentum grant program), space for public workshops and classes, and a community workspace that Stinchcomb hoped would cultivate "serendipitous interaction."
- John Garay
Radio Kingston, meanwhile, took over WKNY airwaves with a noncommercial platform in November, made possible by funding from the NoVo Foundation (which also supports local organizations like the Good Work Institute, YMCA of Kingston, and others, through its Supporting Thriving Local Communities initiative). Run by radio personality Jimmy Buff and aimed at cultivating community connection through storytelling, music, and conversation, the station (soon to add FM frequency 107.9 to its AM frequency, 1490) features some 40 programs hosted by local community members. They'll be moving their Broadway headquarters up the block later in 2019. Staying in Midtown was important to the station; Buff says, "As goes Midtown, so goes the rest of Kingston."
By all accounts, Midtown is on the upswing. Money is pouring in for improvements: HealthAlliance is planning a $92-million expansion of the Mary's Avenue hospital campus; the Kingston High School is in the midst of a $137-million renovation and expansion. Millions more are being allocated to modernize and improve safety on thoroughfares like Broadway (via the Broadway Streetscape Project) and Franklin Street (via the city's "complete streets" project).
And then there are the arts. Formed in 2016, the Midtown Arts District is a growing hub of more than 200 arts-based businesses and studios across 40 buildings. Newer additions include Ferrovia Studios, which debuted space for 14 artist studios; the Department of Regional Art Workers (DRAW), an arts workshop based out of the YMCA; and photographer Aaron Rezny's 76 Prince Street Studios, which has transformed the former Welch Industrial Supply Co. warehouse into a photo studio and gallery/event space that sees frequent collaborations with the Center for Photography at Woodstock.
- John Garay
Upcoming in the pipeline are the Kingston Pop Museum, opening in November on Broadway; later in 2019 will welcome both the 10,000-square-foot Cornell Creative Arts Center, touting 10 artist studios, a dance studio, and a community space for workshops, along with the historic Fuller Shirt Factory building, being transformed by Kingston architect and owner Scott Dutton, to include offices and studio spaces for makers and creatives.
The 1920s-era, 1,500-seat Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC) is fresh from a $5.4 million renovation that brought improvements to the restrooms and heating and air conditioning systems. Uptown music mecca BSP Kingston has developed a program of intimate shows at the ballroom of The Beverly Lounge.
In fact, BSP is just one of several successful Uptown-based businesses that have seen the potential of Midtown and are branching out. Since 2017, outposts of popular yoga studio The Yoga House and the Outdated Cafe (via Outdated Lite) have launched spinoffs here. Outdated Lite rents space inside the Lite Brite Neon studio on Downs Street and fronts segments of a future rail trail. Promises of the development of the Greenline trail system have lured businesses from further afield, too, like Saugerties transplant Revolution Bicycles, which opened in Midtown in April.