Growing up here in the 1970s and 80s, my memories of Ossining’s downtown are those of crumbling blight. When Arcadian Shopping Center opened in the 1960’s it only took a few years for almost all the commerce to migrate down route 9, leaving Main Street a veritable ghost town. The Urban Renewal of the time, mainly the demolition of much of the intersection of Main and Spring, was an ironic term. Urban, yes. But renewal? Hardly.There were renovations of buildings, but commerce of substance was gone for decades.
Times have changed yet again. Main street is back, and the signs that are now up around town commemorating the village’s 1813-2013 Bicentennial do herald a new era that has been decades in the making. It is hard to pinpoint when the turnaround began exactly, perhaps the migration of the Ossining post office to the old site of the Ossining Hotel, but in the here and now downtown is vibrant and healthy again.
Just about every storefront is occupied. A casual walk from upper main to the newer buildings across from the Post Office reveals eateries, professional offices, salons, and lots of other “downtowny” enterprises. My friend Eric Schatz at Keller Williams has the old Ossining Bank building on the market, renovated, advertising condo units and retail space. Only 1 vacant building remains. The rest are pulsing with activity. Business is invested here.
Government is clearly working in partnership with private enterprise. Vacant lots are now parking areas. Public works have trees lining the street, potted plants in bloom in what is a wonderful metaphor for the locale, and the walkways from the aqueduct to the street are clean and in good repair. A guy that left here 10, 20, or 30 years ago wouldn’t recognize this place.
I left Ossining for college in 1985. I didn’t return until 2000 after living and working in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Rochester and Boston. I know nice places. And this is a recession! Ossining is back, and you should take a stroll and enjoy it.