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We love our city so much that we named our company after it. When people talk about Kingston, much of the discussion focuses on how great Uptown’s Stockade district and Downtown’s Rondout are. It’s an easy story to understand: both are packed with restaurants, trendy shops, and beautiful houses.

Midtown Kingston, the “other” neighborhood, is a little more complicated. Its identity has long been as the blue-collar, lunchpail part of Kingston, and it’s heavy on factory buildings, hospitals and medical centers, schools, and working class families, and has Broadway, Kingston’s main thoroughfare and defining piece of infrastructure, which links Uptown to Downtown. As part of a national trend, all of those things have been hit by hard times over the last several decades, leading to Midtown Kingston not being as shiny or trendy as other parts of the city.

However, challenges and change can also lead to new opportunities. Many great people and organizations love Midtown Kingston, and have been working very hard for years on fostering an inclusive rebirth of the neighborhood. It's not smoke and mirrors: the items below are real and already happening. Here's why we're bullish on the future:

1. Midtown Arts District

There’s no official designation yet, but there is a creative economy brewing in Midtown, mainly because there’s so much affordable space in repurposed factories, vacant storefronts and startup galleries. In addition to artists, there are also small manufacturers, makers, funky fitness classes and service companies flooding in as well.

Left: FACES, by Carla Rozman. Opening reception is May 14th, 5 to 8pm. Right: BOUTIQUE FITNESS offers sessions of Hula Hoop with Heather and Butt & Gut Bootcamp with Che on Monday
Cornell Street Studios Left: FACES, by Carla Rozman. Opening reception is May 14th, 5 to 8pm. Right: BOUTIQUE FITNESS offers sessions of Hula Hoop with Heather and Butt & Gut Bootcamp with Che on Monday

Right now, you can take classes in rock climbing, zumba, tai chi, sword-fighting, Zumba, pole dancing, silversmithing and figure drawing at places like Cornell Street Studios, the Shirt and Brush Factory, and the Center for Creative Education without leaving a four block radius.

You can visit art openings at places like Green Kill, Art Bar, or Cornell Street Studios, or see performances by people ranging from David Sedaris to Kevin James to Chaka Khan at UPAC, an beautiful unaltered theater built in 1926. They also screen movies like Spaceballs from time to time.

Award-winning film star Mary Stuart Masterson
Award-winning film star Mary Stuart Masterson is pursuing a Kingston-based film production center

Unique small businesses like Blackcreek Mercantile, Treeline Cheese, Green Palette and more are employing people and selling artisan goods online and in markets around the country, and more are following in their footsteps to incubate in Midtown. Actress Mary Stuart Masterson is even getting in on it, pursuing Stockade Works, a film production center that may open in 2017.

The Midtown Arts District is becoming a thing, and will be able to foster an even greater sense of connectivity between residents, businesses and organizations.

If you’re into art, fitness or entrepreneurship, Midtown Kingston is the place to be. Check out this infographic we just did on the topic.

2. The Midtown Quarter-Billion

Buffalo, another blue-collar city in the process of reinvention, has the Buffalo Billion, a $1B commitment from New York State to support a portfolio of economic development investments. Midtown Kingston isn’t as big as Buffalo, but there recently has been over $250M committed to some of our most foundational institutions in Midtown Kingston, with positive implications for the neighborhood’s education, healthcare, economic and housing.

Kingston High School: $137M

To be completed in 2023, this renovation is the first work to the Broadway campus since 1979, and will include 180,000 sq. feet of new construction. In addition to reversing decades of disrepair, it’ll also create several mini-learning academies that will help students learn in smaller groups and accommodate critical technology education and equipment.

This commitment means that Kingston will become an even better place to send kids to school.

HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley: $88.8M

Uncertainty around Midtown Kingston’s two hospitals has made the last ten years scary for both patients and employees, but New York State awarded HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley nearly $90M to invest in the two campuses and to partner with Westchester Medical Center Health Network. Hospital services will be consolidated into the former Benedictine Hospital campus, while the campus on Broadway will be converted into a medical village with lots of support services.

The takeaway: medical services are still going to be in Midtown Kingston, the company providing them is a lot more stable, and a significant amount of money is being spent to ensure that the services can support our community.

RUPCO’s Energy Square: $20M

RUPCO is getting really good at giving new life to outdated properties in Midtown Kingston. They recently re-opened the Lace Mill on Cornell Street, a long-dormant factory which took $16M in renovations that now has 55 units of artist housing.

Last year, they purchased a bowling alley property in Midtown, which will turn into a solar-powered, six-story facility that will combine mixed-income housing, event space and an elevated urban park called Energy Square. It will add 50-60 new housing units to Midtown, and is intended to have space for organizations like the Center for Creative Education and the Hudson Valley Tech Meet-Up to expand their services.

3. Kingston’s “Greenline” Rail Trail Network

Sitting in a car for 10-15 minutes to drive one mile is a major bummer, no matter where you live. One of Kingston’s current drawbacks is that traffic on Broadway can get bottlenecked, and the side streets are plagued with stop signs. Biking in Kingston can be a white-knuckle thrill-ride, while many sidewalks are in disrepair.

That's going to change, and soon.

The Kingston Land Trust has been pursuing a vision of a rail trail and bike route network, and it’s closer to fruition than ever before. The best part is that they all come together in Midtown Kingston. You’ll not only be able to bike across the entire city, but you’ll only have to share the road with cars for a brief portion of the ride. Kingston also links up to the Walkill Valley Rail Trail that can get you all the way to the Walkway Over the Hudson!

To make this happen, there are over a dozen separate ongoing projects being coordinated between the Land Trust and the Ulster County and Kingston city governments. This story in the Kingston Times is the most comprehensive overview of the current status of these projects, but it sounds like much of it will be completed by 2017 or 2018. You’ll be able to bike from Uptown to Midtown to Downtown, to the Hudson River, and back, and only have to share a road with cars for a few blocks.

Here's a map that includes some points of interest listed in this article:

Note: Two very controversial elements of this project are the proposal to add a bike lane to Broadway, and the ongoing battle between the Catskill Mountain Railroad and Ulster County government. Regardless of the outcomes of those two elements of this plan, it still will be possible to safely bike from Uptown Kingston to Downtown Kingston and the Hudson River on various trails and Complete Streets connections.

4. Midtown Kingston’s Food Scene

There’s been a lot of ink spilled about the restaurant scene Uptown and Downtown, but our post about food in Midtown Kingston was our most popular in our blog’s history. We only wrote about ten places, but if you check the comments, there were many that we missed including Joe Beez and The Anchor.

midtown-food
Left: Joe Beez, photo by @aneiahjohnson Right: The Anchor, photo by @adominij

There’s great coffee, breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and dessert to be had in Midtown Kingston, and locally made beer to wash it down.

5. Soccer & Smorgasburg

Kingston already has a bunch of huge events that the entire city can enjoy; the Uptown New Years’ celebrations, the O+ Festival every fall, the Burning of Kingston, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the weekly Kingston Farmers Market, Movies in the Park, and countless more.

This year, we’re also getting:

Kingston Stockade Football Club, a new semi-pro soccer team which will play seven home games in Uptown’s Dietz Stadium this summer.

soccer 1

Upstate Smorgasburg, an outdoor Brooklyn-style food & flea market that will be at a brickyard on the Hudson River near Downtown Kingston.

smorg

So picture it: you move to Midtown Kingston. By summer 2017, you’ll be able to walk to a parkour class, bike between the Farmers Market, a soccer match and Smorgasburg, go to some art openings, and grab a locally-made beer at Keegan Ales all in one day. You’ll be 20 minutes from an Amtrak station, ten minutes from the NYS Thruway, and 30 minutes from hiking, camping and swimming spots.

You just have to live in Midtown Kingston to do it!

This post was sponsored by 83 Downs Street, a three-story brick and bluestone Victorian house for sale in the heart of Midtown Kingston. If you want to live, make art, and possibly rent to people in Midtown Kingston, this is your place! It's not a fixer-upper, it's ready to go right now. 

9 Comments

  • When these builders are planning their layout it would be really nice to have a fenced area where people can bring their dogs for playtime so they dont have to drive to the public dog park. It would also provide an area for socialization of humans as well as their dogs. Mercer housing in Greenwich Village built such a dogrun..it’s private and works very well.

  • No doubt about it, Kingston is cutting edge. What a great place to live – seems like now is the time to buy, if you have the means.

  • Nicely done. I also want to point out another component, Midtown Rising. This not-for-profit coalition of residents and community groups is taking steps to enable residents to change their state and to change up the conditions in the economically poorest parts of our city. I say economically poor. This group is relying on the principles of Asset Based Community Development to fuse external and internal assets into an initiative that can drive improvement on multiple levels. Worth taking a look at and very much worth supporting. Check out https://kingstonmidtownrising.org/

  • Another plus: free electric vehicle charging stations in many sites in Kingston and more coming! Also, soon to come connections from the Green Line to the planned Ashokan Reservoir Rail Trail and the fabulous Catskill Park!

    • All Ulster County municipal charging stations are free of charge to the public, sponsored by the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce. There are 8 Ulster County municipal charging stations in Kingston, and some businesses, such as the Hamilton Inn by Hilton, offer charging stations as well (fees may apply to those stations). You can visit http://www.plugshare.com/ and type in ‘Kingston, NY’ to find station locations and details.

  • Wow, a blog post sponsored by a listing. Very cool. I have not seen that before.

    The town looks very interesting. It’s the kind of place I’d like to live in after escaping toronto.

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