A Bridge Between: Catskill and Hudson | Catskill | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram
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A Bridge Between: Catskill and Hudson 

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Catskill: Clawing its Way Back

Talk abounds of Catskill becoming the Brooklyn to Hudson's Manhattan. "We have a realtor on the staff of our business advisory committee who points out how Columbia County is pricing itself out," says Terry Weiss, the business marketing coordinator of Buy in Greene, Invest in Green, a county-led initiative that encourages small business expansion and retention in Greene County. "Our business concierge service helps new local businesses find the right locations using our connections within the community—we're even able to assist with procuring low-interest loans for new businesses."

click to enlarge On Main Street in Catskill. - ROY GUMPEL
  • Roy Gumpel
  • On Main Street in Catskill.

For years, recession-afflicted Catskill hasn't had much happening in the way of nightlife—but that's changing. On Main Street, the newly restored New York Restaurant has been hosting live music, as has the Creekside Restaurant & Bar, which recently launched a catering wing. "We've already had live music and other events, and we plan to have more," says Jack Szarapka, who with his wife Toko Harada is remaking a one-time kitchen tile shop into the Exchange House, a bakery and cafe in a building whose history mirrors the bawdiness that once happened across the river. "The Exchange House was the name of the original business that was here: a bar and restaurant with a brothel upstairs. We've uncovered a lot of the original structural materials, which we're reusing whenever possible."

click to enlarge The Community Theater in Catskill. - ROY GUMPEL
  • Roy Gumpel
  • The Community Theater in Catskill.

Another addition to Catskill's cultural milieu is the Bridge Street Theater, opened in 2014 by actor Steven Peterson and lighting designer John Sowles. The 84-seat, 12,000-square-foot main room stages new and original plays, cabaret, films, comedy, live music, and other performances; its smaller Speakeasy space features events as well. Downtown's other notable dining spots include coffeehouse/wine bar/New American bistro 394 Main, casual eatery A Taste of Catskill Cafe, Thai temple Wasana, riverside restaurant Frank Guido's Port of Call, and the new second location of Verdigris tea house. Enticing shops have begun cropping up along Main Street, such as Magpie Bookshop, bath/body/wellness retailer the General Store of Catskill, and Mahalo gifts.

click to enlarge Owner Kristi Gibson, and Justin Brehm reading to Fiona at Magpie Bookstore in Catskill. - ROY GUMPEL
  • Roy Gumpel
  • Owner Kristi Gibson, and Justin Brehm reading to Fiona at Magpie Bookstore in Catskill.

Settled by Europeans in the late 1600s, Catskill has a relationship to art that predates its later rise, and eventual decline, as an Industrial Age mill town. On Spring Street is the historic home of Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole, which sits directly across the river from Olana, the estate of his most famous student, Frederic Church. Today, the village contains M Gallery, Open Studio, and other galleries, but the biggest arts news is that of the Catskill Mill, a trio of 19th-century factory buildings acquired in 2013 by Etsy cofounder Rob Kalin, who is repurposing them into a multiworkshop artist complex with apartments, a hotel, retail spaces, apartments, and a restaurant.

Adjacent to the Catskill Mill is ADI/Lumberyard, the new home of the nationally renowned American Dance Institute's production-development and performance center, which is situated in four creekfront buildings first erected as a lumber-processing center. Construction began in May and is set for completion in early 2018. "We looked from Washington all the way up to Albany for a new location, and Catskill turned out to be perfect," says Adrienne Willis, the executive and artistic director of the facility, which on September 17 will host its End of Summer Shindig, featuring performances by Jody Melnick with Steven Reker and Dan Hurlin. "Coming from our old space in suburban Rockville, Maryland, we didn't know what to expect initially. But right away we felt like part of the town. There's a great sense of community here.

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