New Paltz, N.Y.: Lovely, Sporty and Cultured

New Paltz, N.Y.: Beautiful, Sporty and Cultured

If New Paltz were a Tinder profile, a lot of people would swipe right. This town about 80 miles north of New York City in southern Ulster County is sporty, smart, sophisticated, and beautiful. Nestled in a mountain range, surrounded by meadows and wooded nature reserves, cut by a river, anchored by a state university and dotted with historic houses, shops and galleries, it attracts athletes, day-trippers, art lovers and now Covid-19 refugees.

Even before the pandemic, New Paltz, as the village within the city is called, attracted city residents with a package of fresh air, green spaces and progressive politics. Education has long been a hallmark. In 2004, the village's then mayor, Jason West, a member of the Greens, conducted multiple same-sex marriages for more than a decade before the Supreme Court guaranteed that right.

These days, newcomers are devouring the housing stock, increasing average sales prices by more than 30 percent, and making traffic a problem not only for drivers but also for the many cyclists who ride the streets.

Richard Souto, a resident with a son in public schools, said the influx was remarkable before the pandemic and the recent population surge has not yet had a profound visual impact. "But I am sure that when everyone is back on the road and the school looks like it did before, we will see many new faces," he said.

Mr Souto, 50, grew up in the area. After living in New York City for more than two decades, he returned five years ago with his New Paltz wife, Kristen, and their son Andre, now 12 years old.

"We figured out how to get out of town every weekend," he said. "The pattern lasted long enough that we would ask, what would life be like in the hinterland?"

They were lucky enough to find a village house to rent (New York State University students in New Paltz usually grab them). Two years later, they bought a 75-year-old cape across the street for $ 349,000. Her home is 1,470 square feet, one fifth of an acre, one block from Main Street and its many amenities.

Recovery is also near. "We have a mountain right down the street," said Mr. Souto, referring to Shawangunk Ridge, which is loved by climbers around the world. "We cycle and hike and run and kayak, all within literally five to ten minutes of our house."

Before the pandemic, Mr Souto strolled five minutes to the Trailways bus station on Main Street to drive to his Manhattan job as the director of a nonprofit arts agency called LEAP. He didn't commute every day and was careful to avoid rush hours when the 100-minute drive could be extended to two hours.

"The shuttle culture between New York City and New Paltz was one thing, and now it's growing," he said.

"We call it the Hudson Valley bustle," said Matt Eyler, 49, who discovered New Paltz on his motorcycle in the 1990s, rode through the mountains and soaked in the beauty. Mr. Eyler and his wife Maya moved from Manhattan in the early 2000s. He built a business there mostly in commercial real estate and he's growing his income by writing a marketing copy for real estate companies in New York. "It's cheap to live here compared to the city, but not that cheap," he said. "They're tinkering it together."

Citing the Daily Freeman, a local newspaper, Eyler said the combination of new residents and second home owners moving in permanently is expected to increase Ulster County's population by 25 to 30 percent. While pointing out the stress this would add to a small community, he noted that the influx also brings business opportunities. "Commercial investors recognize the economic boom that is happening here and want to be a part of it," he said.

New developments include Zero Place, an energy-efficient, mixed-use project with 46 units on North Chestnut Street that is almost complete. Last month, New Paltz got its first credit rating from Moody & # 39; s and raised an $ 8 million bond to convert a wine warehouse on the eastern outskirts into a new police headquarters and courthouse.

Mr. Eyler predicted that the character of New Paltz would change and not all for the better. "Small and medium-sized businesses are being evicted because they see an opportunity to withdraw money," he said. Not only are there more cars on the road, but the new drivers are also not following the local custom of taking a break to let other drivers tune in, he said.

Still, he's hopeful. "If you move here from Brooklyn and Manhattan, you will change the character of New Paltz, but New Paltz will change the character of you," he said. "This place has the ability to smooth the edges of people and make them slower and quieter."

The city of New Paltz covers approximately 34 square kilometers and 14,000 people in the central Hudson Valley. The centerpiece is the 1.8 square mile village with 7,100 residents. The two entities maintain different governments and have predictably different atmospheres. The village is bustling with commerce, its streets and shops are usually bustling with the 8,000 students who attend SUNY. (They're less visible now with the pandemic, but they're still there.)

Lands range from Victorians to mid-century ranches to townhouse complexes and colonial rulers dating back to the 17th century when New Paltz was colonized by the descendants of French Protestants. In the Hugenottenstraße seven original stone houses are part of a 10 hectare historical district and museum. Some of the homes in this Grade I listed area are privately owned by history buffs who don't seem to mind passing tourists.

The village center is full of restaurants with global cuisine (Tibetan, Thai, Italian, German, Mexican, Japanese). There are also boutiques, cafes, gastro-pubs, a new cheesecake shop, and a quirky mall near the Wallkill River called the Water Street Market. The two-year-old Denizen Theater on the upper level of the market is slated to reopen on October 8 after a pandemic lull with the world premiere of a play by Neil LaBute (eight socially distant seats are available for each performance). Art galleries and craft shops offer the Samuel Dorsky Art Museum on the SUNY New Paltz campus an additional feast for the eyes.

East of the historic village, towards Interstate 87, is a more conventional retail outlet – several shopping centers with chain stores. To the west of the river, houses and properties grow larger, and farms, orchards, and vineyards dissolve. Unison Arts on Mountain Rest Road has sculptures in fields. Coppersea, a 75-acre distillery on Springtown Road, produces spirits from local grains.

Many first encounter New Paltz as the gateway to Mohonk Mountain House, the quaint 151-year-old resort that is one of the city's top employers. The 8,000-acre Mohonk Preserve is open to the public for a daily rate of $ 15 for hikers and $ 20 for cyclists, climbers, and riders. The new River-to-Ridge Trail in New Paltz connects the 22-mile Wallkill Valley Rail Trail with 90-mile trails on Shawangunk Ridge in Mohonk Preserve and 22,275 acre Minnewaska State Park Preserve.

The average sales price for a home in New Paltz from June to August 2020 was $ 460,425, a staggering 32.5 percent year-over-year increase, Eyler said. During this period, homes sold for an average of $ 7,000 above asking price. a year earlier they went below demand for $ 9,000.

The available properties nevertheless evaporate like raindrops on summer asphalt. "When you see a house in the market for 72 hours, wonder why," said Lindsay Stevens, who owns a Main Street real estate agent with husband Bruce Stevens.

In late September, Zillow showed 81 homes available for sale, from a 431-square-foot studio apartment on Huguenot Street priced at $ 125,500 with taxes of $ 2,523, to a four-bedroom home that increased to more than 2001 35 acres was built at $ 2.184 million with last reported taxes of $ 17,653 in 2017 (at an estimated value of $ 530,700).

The once strong rental market, apart from student apartments where the pandemic has left vacancies, has been tapped, Ms. Stevens said. Second homes have been rented to former city residents for up to $ 30,000 a month. Other rental houses, she said, are full of residents who have found the temptation of soaring prices too difficult to resist and who are selling their own homes. Now they need a place to live.

Melanie Cronin, 47, who runs an art gallery in Water Street Market that sells works by her husband, Ryan Cronin, said she loves New Paltz “because it's beautiful and full of wonderful people, but also because it's a fabulous place is owning a business. "The Cronins opened the gallery called CronArtUSA five years ago. Ms. Cronin said," And she was confident because we knew the church had our backs. "On one last day it was filled with paintings by Mr. Cronin's month-long stay in Senegal last year.

Not far from the gallery, a pet shop recently displayed a sign asking people who had lost their jobs to help themselves with free pet food. A cooperative antique shop nearby offered giveaway jewelry. When a reporter, distracted by a conversation with another bargain hunter, left her cell phone next to a box of stud earrings, her new friend found her deep in the store, many, many showcases away, and handed them back.

The New Paltz Central School District serves around 2,100 students in four institutions: the Duzine Elementary School (kindergarten through second grade), Lenape Elementary School (third through fifth grades), New Paltz Middle School (sixth through eighth grades), and the New Paltz High School (9th to 12th grade). The student population identified as 76.3 percent white, 12.3 percent Hispanic or Latino, 4.1 percent black or African American, 4 percent multiracial, and 3.2 percent Asian.

In the 2019 state ratings, 45 percent of students met English standards, which matched the nationwide number. 43 percent met the math standards, up from 47 percent across the state.

New Paltz High School serves 758 students. Of the 173 graduates from the 2019 class, 151 attended a two- or four-year college. The average SAT scores for this class were 596 for reading and writing and 605 for arithmetic, versus 531 and 533 for the state as a whole.

Trailways offers a direct bus service from Main Street in the village to the Port Authority bus station five times a day on weekdays and less frequently on weekends. One-way fare starts at $ 23 and travel time is an hour and 40 minutes provided there are no traffic disruptions.

Some commuters travel 20 minutes east across the Hudson River to Poughkeepsie and take a metro north train to Grand Central Terminal. The travel time is between one and a half and two hours, depending on the time of day. One way off-peak fare is $ 19.25.

New Paltz's roots lie in the purchase of 40,000 acres by the Esopus tribe of the Lenape Indians in 1677. The buyers were a dozen men of Huguenot descent whose ancestors had left France for the Palatinate or the Palatinate in southwest Germany To seek refuge from which the city got its name. New Paltz was incorporated in 1785.

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