City of Newburgh Issues RFPs on Three East End Development Sites

Real Estate In-Depth | March 30, 2021

The City Club Building at 120 Grand St. in Newburgh, NY.

NEWBURGH—The City of Newburgh is seeking development proposals for three city-owned properties located in the heart of the Newburgh’s East End Historic District.

The city announced on March 17 that the first proposal calls for the rehabilitation of 120 Grand St., formerly known as the “City Club” building. A second proposal seeks the restoration of a four-story corner building at 123 Renwick St. in the center of the historic Washington Heights area. The third proposal offers a combined three-lot, vacant parcel at the corner of Montgomery and South Streets for a mixed-use, new construction development that can take full advantage of the parcel’s panoramic Hudson River views and its historic district surroundings.

The proposal for the rehabilitation of the iconic City Club building follows the issuance of an RFP on the same property last September by the city. The “City Club” building is one of the few remaining examples of the collaborative design efforts of noted architects Andrew Jackson Downing and Calvert Vaux. The City Club’s distinctive brick and sandstone exterior recalls the exceptional architectural heritage of early Newburgh; its “blank canvas” interior space beckons a creative developer to explore its possibilities, city officials note.

According to Alexandra Church, the City of Newburgh’s Director of Planning and Development, “Each of these of these properties offers a unique and challenging opportunity for the right developer to build on the current momentum of renewal and revitalization in the City of Newburgh.”

The City Club building was built between 1852 and 1857 and was designed by Andrew Jackson Downing and Calvert Vaux. It was originally built as the home/office of Dr. William Culbert who authored one of the first textbooks on homeopathy published in the United States.

Upon Dr. Culbert’s death in 1890, the building was purchased by Clayton and Charity Sweet, owners of the Sweet-Orr Overall Manufacturing Co., which had relocated its headquarters and much of its factory production to Newburgh. The Sweets sold the building in 1904 to the Newburgh City Club (of which Sweet was a member), a social organization catering to the city’s leading businessmen and politicians. In 1909, local architect Frank Estabrook seamlessly blended a large addition – tripling the size of the building – with the façade of the original residence. The greatly enlarged building not only housed the City Club (and its legendary basement bowling alley), but was also home to the county law library, family court lawyers, and a title search company, according to the RFP issued last September.

In the 1970s, it was purchased and renovated by private developer Brian Thompson, who rehabilitated several homes and apartment buildings in the city’s East End Historic District. Thompson succeeded in restoring the building, only to see that work go up in smoke when the property was devastated by a fire in 1981.

The damaged City Club property was sold and resold throughout the intervening decades. In 1997, hopes were raised once more that the building would be resurrected. New owner Gerry Sanchez, president of the Polonia Development Corp., promoted converting the first floor into a café with the “world’s largest magazine store,” housing more than 10,000 periodical titles. The restoration never occurred and the City of Newburgh reclaimed the building, this time through an In Rem (tax foreclosure) action in 2016.

Proposals for the three properties must be submitted at various deadline dates during June and July. All proposals will be reviewed by the Mayor’s Strategic Economic Development Advisory Committee their recommendations will be forwarded to the City Council for their consideration and approval. The Requests for Proposals for each of these opportunities can be found on the City of Newburgh’s website on the Planning and Development departmental page (https://www.cityofnewburgh-ny.gov/planning-development) and also on Bidnet.com (https://www.bidnetdirect.com/ ).

Additional supporting materials will also be available on the City of Newburgh’s website on the Planning and Development departmental page.