The City of Newburgh will begin to accept donations for the rehabilitation of the Dutch Reformed Church. The unanimous decision of the Newburgh City Council follows on the heels of public opposition to a proposed plan to develop the church property together with two other city-owned properties.
“Regardless of where that proposal ends up, it still does not answer, ‘How do we stabilize the Dutch Reformed Church?’” Councilwoman Karen Mejia said at a city council meeting on Monday. “That work needs to continue, regardless of any developer’s agreement.”
The Greek Revival-style church was designed by Alexander Jackson Davis in 1835. It was named a National Historic Landmark in 2001 and one of the “Seven to Save” historic sites by the state Preservation League in 2016. A large part of the church ceiling collapsed in 2012. Community groups have worked to repair and stabilize the church over the years.
A project proposed last year by Alembic Community Development and Hester Street Collaborative would see the rehabilitation of the church along with the redevelopment of the former City Club property on Grand Street and housing on 1.8 acres on Montgomery Street.
Residents opposing the project have argued that the Montgomery Street property is highly valuable and capable of generating significant tax revenue. “That bluff is worth $4 to $10 million of tax revenue, with $4 to $10 million in tax revenue, you’re not laying off City of Newburgh firemen,” said Drew Kartiganer, speaking about the parcel at a public hearing in December. “Our taxes are killing us,” said business owner Melanie Collins.
“There was an outpour from the public to look at different options and look at possible funding opportunities… so (the church) wouldn’t be tied to the development of 2 Montgomery Street,” Councilman Torrance Harvey said Monday. He noted that a developer’s agreement had not yet come before the council. “We haven’t moved on anything,” Harvey said.
The Montgomery Street land was cleared during Newburgh’s Urban Renewal period of the 1960s. The vacant parcel boasts panoramic views of the Hudson River.
A preliminary plan for the project calls for construction of town houses, affordable rental units and first-floor retail spaces. This development is expected to provide tax revenue to support the restoration of the church and the former City Club property.
In December, city Director of Planning and Development Deirdre Glenn said it was too early to say whether there would be a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement for the project. Alembic is expected to carry out four to six months of public-information gathering for the project.
The developer will host a public meeting for the project from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at the City of Newburgh Activity Center, located at 401 Washington Street.
By SHANTAL RILEY