By Journalist Ms. Jones
NEWBURGH – Washington Street School has been closed for several years. There is graffiti on the walls. There are plans for a reopening, but not as a school. The plans are to turn it into a mixed-use commercial residential site.
“[It will be] market rate housing with some retail commercial businesses as well,” said Mayor Torrance Harvey. The auditorium will be turned into a brewery and other restaurants, classrooms into apartments, and two additional buildings will be built for apartments. There will also be underground parking and a small park.
It is being developed by a private company called 191 Washington Street LLC. The owners are Sisha Ortuzar, Erik Cooney, Chris Cooney, Allison Cooney, and Charlotte Lovschal. They have already bought the school building. The PILOT, or Payment In Lieu of Taxes, was approved for 15 years. The goal of the project is to revitalize the area.
“People [are] excited that they’re going to upgrade and they’re going to revitalize that area… Washington and Clark Street is where that 29 year old guy got shot and killed and a five year old kid got shot in the knee,” said Mayor Harvey. “That area had been dilapidated and abandoned for a number of years ever since the school shut down and then they sold that property to the private developers.”
This project will also help the economy. It will bring jobs to the area.
“One of the community benefits is they’re gonna have employment. They’re going to be hiring city residents during the construction phase. They’re going to also hire [at] the beer brewery… [The other] commercial spaces in that building [are] going to be hiring locals… [Another benefit is] beautification of that area on the west side of Washington… [It] is going to brighten up that area [and] bring value to that area. And so when we look at the downtown commercial corridor on Liberty Street with that new structure… being built, it’s going to continue moving our commercial corridor from the waterfront to Liberty Street, which is the downtown Liberty Street commercial corridor, all the way up to William,” said Mayor Harvey who also hopes to attract more visitors to the area. The project should be completed by 2024.