Courtney Kolb is always ahead of the curve. In 2013, before Instagram became synonymous with marketing, the Beacon native started an account called Hudson Valley Compass and began highlighting the best the Hudson Valley has to offer. The account has since racked up over 19,000 followers, but Kolb is already onto the next big thing: the village of Wappingers Falls.
“It’s important for us to do things here responsibly,” she says during a summer walk through town, gesturing to the trim, three-story building on Main Street, featuring a salon on the bottom floor and apartments above, that she and her husband are renovating. New sidewalks, crossing signs, and lamp posts are also under construction throughout the village. Kolb is currently serving as the chair of the Wappingers Economic Development Committee, and she and her husband are committed to raising their family there. “If I don’t believe in something, I don’t get this involved,” she says.
Calling what’s happening in Wappingers Falls a “revival” isn’t quite accurate. Unlike Poughkeepsie to the north and Beacon to the south, Wappingers isn’t coming back from hard times. There was no dark age here—no misguided urban renewal projects that leveled historic architecture or disrupted the fabric of village life. Maybe some of the historic buildings on the outskirts of downtown didn’t always have businesses in them, and perhaps too many people saw Wappingers as a shortcut to get to Poughkeepsie’s malls instead of a picturesque shopping destination in itself, but Wappingers still kept quietly hummed along. The Wagon Wheel kept serving pizzas, the County Players kept putting on plays, and Graceland Tattoo kept the locals inked. Life was sleepy, but good.
Then came County Fare, a neighborhood bar with an ample selection of craft beers and a locally sourced menu that’s more bistro than bar food, followed by the Vinyl Room, a beer-and-records shop featuring guest sessions from legendary New York City DJs. Today a new, homegrown energy is pulsing through the village, both literally—the 150-year-old hydroelectric plant at the falls, restored by the Terbush family 30 years ago, is providing local, renewable energy to many of the village’s businesses—and figuratively, as many of the downtown buildings have recently been bought by local investors and entrepreneurs who are renovating them. Even empty storefronts on the outskirts are being built out to accommodate new businesses.
The Wappingers Falls Scene
Wappingers may not yet be the weekend destination of curious New York City travelers, but the village is more affordable than nearby Beacon. The New Hamburg train station is an easy drive, making a downstate commute doable. And the village’s charm extends well beyond its confines.
The Chapel of the Sacred Mirrors, an art gallery/spiritual center, is a psychedelic, mystical delight, attracting visitors from New York and throughout the region; and the Kagyu Thubten Choling Monastery, perched on the banks of the Hudson, offers public mediation sessions every weeknight. Or head to Obercreek Farm’s brewery to enjoy beer brewed onsite while relaxing next to the fields where the hops are grown, along with vegetables for a thriving farm stand and community-supported agriculture operation. The Wappinger Creek Boathouse Community Center, opening this fall, promises easy access to both the creek and the Hudson River. And coal-fired pizza icon Patsy’s will soon open its first-ever location outside the five boroughs, right in the village.
The Real Estate Market in Wappingers Falls
Wappingers Falls’s newfound energy extends to its real estate scene. For years, the village had a low turnover rate, meaning that those who had their hearts set on moving here had to be prepared to wait, and then leap into action when something finally popped up. But now listings are blooming across the village, as those who held on through the recession and have seen their home values bounce back are finally cashing in.
It’s still a seller’s market, but buyers can find values like an 1868 historic five-bedroom in the village for $324,000. A three-bedroom ranch on a double lot can be had for $270,000. Want more room? Upgrade to a renovated 6,000-square-foot, six-bedroom Colonial for $699,000.
But if the three-minute drive to the train station is simply too much to bear, and you’re looking to make a splash, you’ve got a chance to buy an island. Just offshore from the New Hamburg train station, the 1.3-acre Rabbit Island has only one home on it: a four-bedroom, four-bathroom house for $4 million. It’s pricey, but it provides river views from every room and total privacy—and it’s close to both the train station and Cafe Con Leche, located between the train station and White’s Hudson River Marina, in case you get hungry for some of the best Puerto Rican food in the Hudson Valley.