A drive into Newburgh is like a stroll back in time. Throughout the city, historic edifices line streets that are miraculously still bordered by cobblestones and made of brick. As cars cruise down roads upon which horses and carriages once trod, glimpses of life during the early days of the Hudson Valley flicker on by.
When Wireworks opens in the East End Historic Distric of town, it will bring that local nostalgia straight to 109 South William Street. Designed as a mixed-use complex, the project is the brainchild of BOM Newburgh, a collaborative effort by Hudson Valley developer A.E. Baxter, New York City design studio Mapos, and hospitality consultant Sisha Ortuzar.
The three joined forces after the City of Newburgh put out a request for proposal to develop the historic edifice in December 2017.
Originally purchased by retired sea captain Henry “Bully” Robinson in 1824, the property, which was once a 267-acre farm, transitioned from an agricultural hub into an industrial one after his death in 1866. In 1895, Staples & Hanford Wireworks constructed the building at 109 S William Street to serve as the headquarters for production of their patented “Staples Industrial Spring Work” for use in carriage cushions and upholstered furniture. It’s from this history that the new incarnation of the space draws its name.
Once spring production, along with the production of other carriage and automotive parts, wound down in Newburgh, Wireworks transitioned into a garment factory, several clothing outlets, and a luncheonette.
When BOM Newburgh purchased the building in 2018, the property needed more than a little T.L.C. Although the structure had good bones, it required significant work to convert it into a livable space, not to mention one that keeps local history intact. In collaboration with Sisha Ortuzar, a Culinary Institute of America graduate with more than 25 years of kitchen and restaurant management experience (he co-founded ‘Wichcraft with Tom Colicchio), the trio broke ground on what soon will be the latest live-work-play development to hit the Hudson Valley.
“It’s a really cool space,” enthuses Katelyn Amaral, Baxter’s assistant project manager. As one of the first people to scope out the property prior to construction, she was impressed by its potential. Add to that the fact that Baxter is the developer behind a number of apartment and mixed-use sites in the region (The Hive and Maple Street Apartments in Poughkeepsie, for instance), and the endeavor was already well on its way to success.
Since beginning construction in September 2019, BOM Newburgh has made significant inroads on the renovation. If all goes well, the property will be up and running by summer 2020.
“When the City of Newburgh made this building available through an RFP process, I was concerned that perhaps it was too big, but I knew it was the right fit and I was thrilled that it was right where I live,” notes Ortuzar, a Newburgh resident. While Baxter brings its development expertise and Mapos oversees design, Ortuzar guides the on-the-ground plans for the space, thanks to his local presence in town.
Once Wireworks opens its doors to the Hudson Valley in summer 2020, it will be just as much of a home base for locals as it is a destination for visitors to the region. Inside the multi-level structure, seven loft apartments and two live-work artist studios will offer onsite living opportunities. With open floor plans, high ceilings, original hardwood floors, and exposed brick, they will walk the line between historic and modern. Each unit will have a full kitchen and individually controlled HVAC, with onsite laundry and off-street parking available to residents.
Alongside the modern touches, historic details will remain a critical component of Wireworks’ identity in the Hudson Valley. In compliance with City of Newburgh build-out requirements, Baxter will preserve the historic steel windows on the front and east facades. The brick will remain original, and has been scraped down to expose it as much as possible. Inside, exposed wood trusses and tin ceilings further add to the historic integrity of the property.
And that’s just the livable side of things. When it’s time for work and play, Wireworks invites Hudson Valleyites to grab a table a BEAHIVE Newburgh, its coworking space. An extension of BEAHIVE’s locations in Albany and Beacon, the Orange County outpost will be accessible to both locals and residents. It will be right next to Wireworks’ retail space which, with its 2,500- and 675-square foot sections, could be rented to either one or two distinct vendors.
“We strongly believe that Newburgh would benefit from going back to its manufacturing roots, even if it’s on a much smaller scale,” Ortuzar explains. “Because of my background and our desire to make the building into a cohesive community of residents and businesses, we’d love to find a food-related business that can take advantage of the space to manufacture their products for wholesale and offer a retail component to serve the immediate community in the building and the neighborhood.”
In regard to that cohesion, Wireworks sits centrally within Newburgh’s business and retail community. Not only is it right across the street from Atlas Studios, a home for artists and makers in the region, but it’s also right around the corner from the laundry list of Liberty Street businesses like Rob’s Roast Coffees, Liberty Street Bistro, Cream, and Ms. Fairfax.
“Atlas got the ball rolling and had great success,” Amaral says. “Liberty Street has been completely revitalized in the past few years and we’re only a block down. We’re really interested in building up the Hudson Valley area. We believe in it.”
109 S William St, Newburgh