After decades of disrepair, Midtown Kingston’s factories are open for business again, and not just for artists. They’re also incubators for small, creative businesses that need space to grow. And if social media is any indication, the tenants are creating new value that is making an impact locally and across the world.
Mike Piazza (the real estate developer, not the Mets catcher) didn’t invent the idea of investing in old buildings and repurposing them, but he certainly made it cool to do so in Kingston. Ever since he successfully reopened the Shirt, Brush and Pajama factories in the 2000s, there has been an accelerating rate of change in Midtown, with companies like RUPCO and smaller investors following suit with their own projects. The common theme has been revitalization from the bottom-up: artists and small businesses using available spaces to take risks and follow their dreams.
It’s also planted the seeds of what’s called the Midtown Arts District. It hasn’t been officially designated yet, but dozens of businesses and individuals are banding together to help drive economic development and community enrichment on a grassroots level. There’s even going to be a panel discussion about it at the Wired Gallery on High Falls on Sunday, May 1.
Here are some examples of artists, makers & merchants, and services who are currently workin’ in the factories:
Two artists, Kiori Kawai and Aaron Sherwood, are using their Shirt Factory space as a base for their multi-cultural, multimedia and interactive installations. They’ve had performances at museums and festivals around the country, including at Burning Man, Coachella, the Cameron Arts Museum in North Carolina, Brooklyn Museum, and more.
Articles about their amazing work have been shared over 10,000 times online.
Stephen uses his Shirt Factory space to make films, documentaries and other creative work. He recently teamed up with Lynn Woods to create The Lost Roundout: A Story of Urban Renewal, which has drawn rave reviews in preview screenings and will be released in the fall. He’s made films that have been shown on PBS and screened at the London Independent Film Festival and LA Comedy Film Festival. He also collaborates with Chronogram on monthly “Artscene” videos that highlight artists, galleries and museums in the Hudson Valley.
Makers & Merchants
Artist and woodworker Josh Vogel rents space in the Pajama Factory, and his team has created work that can be bought online or in retail shops around the world. They’ve been written about in publications like the NY Times, Remodelista, Design Sponge, Bon Appetit and many more. Their book, The Artful Wooden Spoon, was published by Chronicle Books last winter and is ranked #1 on Amazon’s surprisingly competitive “Fun with Paper & Wood, Stones & Knives” category.
Their work has been shared or pinned over 60,000 times online.
One of the most sensitive topics in Kingston politics is the number of empty storefronts along Broadway. In March, Blackcreek Mercantile made a real commitment to the city by announcing that they will be opening a retail showroom space at the corner of O’Neill Street and Broadway.
A common sight in industrial areas is piles of discarded wooden pallets…. unless Green Palette finds them. They rented space in the Shirt Factory and just moved to the Brush Factory, where they take reclaimed wooden pallets that are lying around town and turn them into beautiful furniture.
They just moved their base of operations to the Shirt Factory, offering group and private parkour classes inside and outside. If you see people doing kong vaults and wall runs in Midtown Kingston, chances are these guys and gals have something to do with it.
There are so many unique fitness offerings in Midtown Kingston, and this one can burn 500 calories while working muscles you didn’t know existed. Six certified instructors offer classes that cost around $15-20 per session on evenings and weekends.
Information on The Shirt, Brush and Pajama Factories can be found here.
Kingston Creative is a creative agency located in Kingston, NY. We make things that help our clients achieve their goals. Click here if you’re interested in learning more.