Tags
. Stone Tavern Farm 1993 2-Up 4th of July aberlour abortion Acid House ACT UP Afghanistan AIDS AKP party Alan Sidrane Alex Clark Aman Mojadidi Amie Siegel amy poliakoff Andrea Dworkin.Mad Men Andres Serrano Andrew Nichols angela carter angela pham Anna Moschovakis Apple apple cider Apple logo apple week applejack Architecture ardbeg Argos Arkville Arkville Bread and Breakfast Art Artemisia Gentileschi Arthur Dent Artists Space balvenie bankruptcy Benjamin Buchloh Benjamin Genocchio Bernadette Corporation Bibi Seck Bibliobarn Bierstadt blogging Boston Marathon Bovina Bovina Library bowmore Brady Campaign Breezy Hill Inn Brian Loughlin Bruichladdich Bull Run Road Bushmills Buttercup Cabela's Campbeltown caol ila cardhu Catskill Mountain News Catskill Watershed Corporation catskills Catskills Community Garden Club Catskills FarmLink Chandigarh chantal chadwick Charivari Charles Maclean Chloe Sevingy Chris McGee Christie's Christmas civil rights clarence de mar Colbert Report Colleen Asper Columbia Spectator community garden Contemporary Art Corbusier cragganmore Craig Taylor Damien Davis Damien Hirst Dan Chadwick Dario Robleto David France David Zwirner Dawn Kasper deer delaware county deminer Denver NY DEP police Department of Environmental protection Depeche Mode Derek Eller Gallery design Design Academy Eindhoven Detroit Institute of Arts Devin Mills Diana Spechler Dick Sanford Diego Rivera Dita Von Teese Duchamp East Meredith Elissa Schappell emma goldman Equal Rights Amendment Erodgan Erotica Esther Snyder Eva Hesse Farming Bovina Feature feminism Feminist Porn firearms fireworks Fleischmanns flood cleanup Fogo Island Food Forrest Bess Francis Jenkin III Frank McHardy Franklin Getchell Frieze frieze London fair FSBO Gabriel Orozco gallery girls Garage Sale garden snakes gardening Gary Simmons Gerhard Richter Gezi Park glenfiddich glenfiddichaphids glock glynwood Goldman Sachs google Goya Foods Graffiti Gran fury greg meyer Greg Olear Gun violence Harry Rifkin Hayhenge Headshot hearthbreak hill Hedley Wright Hella Jongerius Henry James Hershey's Kisses Hidden Inn hollow point bullets Home Goods How To Survive A Plague Hubbell Hubbells hunting Hurricane Irene Hurricane Sandy ICA Indrani Mukherjee inez Valk Isa Genzken Istanbul Aquarium Jake Rosa Janet Steen Jay Sanders Jean Kormos Jeff Tomasi Jennifer Kabat Jennifer Lyon Bell Jennifer Sirey Jeremy Deller Jerry Saltz Jessica Gingrich Joan Benoit Samuelson Joe Moskowitz Joe Perez John Chamberlain John Currin John Lanchester John McCracken John Pawson John Peterson John Reekie John Ruskin John Schulman Jon Raymond Jony Ive Joseph Andreani Joseph O'Neill Judy Chicago Justus Kempthorne Kabinett & Kammer Kabul Kasauli Kate Newby Kathrine Switzer Kelly Reichardt Ken Loach Kenneth Wynder kerri lisa kevin powers Kevyn Orr kim jones Knitting Nation La Loge Lacanian Ink ladies of the night land mines Larry Clark laylah ali Lee Little LEEBA Lifesavers Lisa Selin Davis Liz Collins liz margulies local food Loch Lomond London Police protest Londoners Luc Tuymans Lutz Bacher Maarten Bass maggie schaffer Margaretville Margaretville Central School Marge Miller Mark Birman Mark Dion MARK Project Marlen Esparza Marlene McCarty Martha Rosler marty margulies Mary Cassatt Marybeth Mills massoud hassani Matinee Metropolis metropolitan museum of art Miami Art Museum Michael Maharam Michelle Lopez Michelle Petricini Michelle Segre Michelle Sidrane Middletown Mike Kelley Mike Triolo Mine Kafon minimalism Mitt Romney modernism MoMA Moss Store Mountain Brook Inn Mr Ed Mudfest Mureille Scherre Murray Moss Museum of Sex Music nadja Marcin Nancy Barton Nari Ward Neil Bartlett New York City DEP nina turner Notting Hill NW NY Times NYC DEP Oakleys Occupy Olympics On Stellar Rays Our Greater Selves Paul Elliman Paul Ryan Peg Ellsworth Peter Applebome Peter Schjeldahl Peter Staley Phoenicia Phoenicia Lodge Pinups plattekill pleasure poetry Prattsville Quarlteres Queen Victoria Raleigh bikes Rembrandt Richard Merritt Richard Nixon Richard Prince Richard Sanford Rob Janoff Rob Pruitt Robert Rauschenberg Roberta Smith roe V wade Roger Ross Williams Roxbury Roxbury Central School Royal College of Art RSK farm rush limbaugh Russell's General Store sade Salon Sam Byers Sandy Hook Sara Loughlin Sarah Lyall scotch Scott Finley Sean Beaudoin Sean Scherer Sex shalane flanagan Sheila Pepe short stories Shulamith Firestone Simon Preston Gallery skiing Skin Like Sun snowmaking Sojourner Truth South Kortright Springbank Stanley Fish Stephanie Weber Stephen Burks Stephen Elliot Sterling and Francine Clark Institute Sterling Clarkl Sternberg Press Steve Jobs Steve Koester Stroud Sue Ilho Sue Williams Supervisor Campaign supervisor debate Table on Ten Taksim Square Tate Modern Tatlock & Thomson TED Television the Bibliobarn The Brooklyn Rail The Catskills The Cheese Barrel the civil war The Evening Standard The Hayward Gallery the hedonic treadmill. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy the ICA The Miner's Strike The Muster The New Museum The New York Times the NRA The Peekamoose The Record The Roxbury Barn The Rumpus The Talking Heads The Weeklings The Western The Whitney Biennial The Woolpack The Yellow Birds Thomas Thwaites Time Life Science Tintoretto Todd Akin Tom McCarthy Treadwell tThe Weeklings Turkey Two Dark Birds Two Old Tarts Two Paths for the Novel undefined Upstater Victoria Charkut Wallpaper* Walt Whitman Walter R Brooks Watts Towers Wayd Jaquish weddings Whisky William Boyd William Pitt the younger Williamsburg Winslow Homer Winter in the Catskills blog WIOX writing Zadie Smith Zanele Muholi zita Cobb zucchinis Zuccotti Park
« Hayhenge... Or, Conceptual Art Comes To The Catskills | Main | Acid House, the Police Protest and the Politics of Dancing: Jeremy Deller's London »
Monday
Jun112012

Saving Main Street, Fleischmanns and Mark Birman... 

Fleischmanns is a village up here, named for the yeast and margerine family who got the village name changed after they donated the land for the village park. The same village park that was wiped out in last summer's floods. To say Fleischmanns is challenged is a bit of an understatement. It's one of those places that's a diamond in the rough, where often people talk about a revival. "If just this would happen..." "If just that...." There was a moment when the artist Rob Pruitt got a house there and his gallery Gavin Brown's Enterprise bussed art worldy folk up for weekend tours. Then Rob sold it, deciding to be closer to the city.

The village (formerly Griffin's Corners) was once a happening resort town. Fancy dancy where people would dress up for strolls outside. Not just the Fleischmanns were there but the Steinways (original owners of Pruitt's former home). What I love about it though is its roughness (so to speak).  Local historian Bill Birns talks about the amazing diversity there, that he can hear Yiddish and Spanish. And, this is what I love about Fleischmanns -- urban, heterogenous – with awesome Mexican food. Check out the tamales on Saturdays at Mi Lupita. Oh, and at the grocery store you can get indian curries if you call ahead.

Mark Birman who I profiled for the Catskill Mountain News is working on the village's revival and wants to keep it the place that it is. He's grown up spending all of his summers here and now like his dad, lives here fulltime.

Mark Birman stands in a storefront across from the post office and grocery on Main Street in Fleischmanns. The walls have been stripped to the studs and insulation, and exposed I-beams cross the ceiling overhead. The floor is raw wood, and the room itself is raw, chilly this late April afternoon. Birman waves broadly, painting a picture of what he envisions for the space: a restaurant, a bakery café, a gallery, a destination.

Unique situation
“We have this special thing here,” he says, “and I want a restaurant to come in that is fully dedicated to that what’s seasonal and local and to promoting the area.” The way he talks about his vision makes you want to see it too. Upstairs are bright apartments with refinished wood floors and the smell of new carpets in the hallways. All four apartments are now currently for rent.

Birman might be the local tennis pro, but he has bigger interests than simply serves and backhands. He owns property in Manhattan, and his ventures here, two buildings in Fleischmanns, are somewhere between Field of Dreams and a small-town Trump. Like Trump, the buildings are named for him. The first, where we stand now, is the “Birman Building,” and he laughs wondering how he’ll get Birman into the name of the second, which he just bought. “The woman at the bank,” he chuckles, “was suggesting, ‘The Other Birman Building.’”

Standing outside on the gravel where a neighboring building once stood, he talks of landscaping and picnic tables. You can nearly see the folks here in summer. He calls the purchases “a good investment” – and he’s not simply talking about what he paid. The cost might have been low but he’s invested a great deal in the property for everything from stripping it back to the raw elements to reconfiguring the apartments upstairs.

Sees strong value
“The value will hold,” he says emphatically. “It’s certainly not getting any worse in Fleischmanns, and more than that, I live here. I go to the post office every day, drive by it every day. This is my village, and I want this town to be as vibrant as it can be. The elements are in place, but far from my personal feelings, the value was good and the timing was good. I’m not just on a mission to save Fleischmanns.

Today Birman wears a white dress shirt and baseball cap emblazoned “Tennis Everyone,” the name of his coaching business. His leather shoes are of the sort that is soft and luxuriant and probably Italian. His voice sounds like that of an unreconstructed New Yorker’s, few of whom exist anymore, and it’s rare to hear that heavy an accent up in the Catskills these days. He grew up in the city, the son of Polish immigrants who both survived the concentration camps, and spent much of his childhood here. He took his first steps at the old Patria Hotel, and by the early ’70s his parents had built the house where Birman lives now in Halcott Center. He has a long and abiding love of the area, describing it as “ home” even if he did not literally grow up here. When rethinking his career in the law, he decided to move back.

Down the street, his second building is at the eastern side of the village. A rambling structure, it’s been known variously over the years as the Evergreen and Emory Brook. Inside stands a grand piano and chairs and tables strewn about like the occupants left in a hurry. The place has a ghostly sense, like you can practically still hear someone at piano. The kitchen has all the professional equipment restaurants require, something Birman would know having attended The Culinary Institute. He says the place could be up and running in a couple of months.

Making changes
He talks about his ideal tenant: someone like Alice Waters. She brought a revolution to Northern California where she changed how people ate and is credited with spurring the growth of farmers’ markets in and around San Francisco.

“I don’t see why it can’t work here,” he says and sees that the building could be a destination with rooms and dining. At a time when local food is particularly hip, with its own catchphrase, “locavore,” and people downstate are flocking to the Catskills to get married for that rural-farm vibe, his plans seem sensible. He wants, though, to find the right tenant to take it forward instead of running it himself. That could be a long shot, particularly when restaurants are notoriously risky ventures and Fleischmanns a long way from its former status as a tourist haven.

Up two dark staircases is a strange warren of single rooms Birman plans on turning into spacious suites. Looking out a bathroom window at the village parking lot, he say he wants to lease it back from the village, not for his or his tenant’s sole use, but to landscape it and make it look inviting.

Fair price
He turns back and says, “People keep asking if I got a steal. I didn’t, the seller should be happy with the price paid, but it’s an investment, and with the Belleayre Resort and ORDA and stores like the Tinderbox, changes are afoot in Fleischmanns. And my time scale?” he asks rhetorically. “Long. I’m patient. I want the right tenant that’s right for the village. One property prospers, the next property prospers.”

 

Mark Birman also the local tennis coach...

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Jennifer Kabat - Blog - Saving Main Street, Fleischmanns and Mark Birman... 

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>