Hamlets like Kauneonga Lake, Narrowsburg, and Callicoon are bustling. Bethel Woods is even more successful than our fondest hopes. The Monticello Motor Club has introduced a new upscale element, and the Concord development looks promising.
As Sullivan County evolves with steady growth in the number of second home and weekend home owners in Sullivan County, we must now address a major concern that accompanies future growth.
There is no place in the entire county for these new residents, as well as county residents to shop.
Locally, we are all reluctantly forced to shop in Walmart, Home Depot, and Shoprite.
If they are looking for a larger and more varied selection of quality merchandise or something unique, they can go to the mall in Middletown or head over to Honesdale, which is at least a half hour away, or for higher quality, they have to drive an hour or more to Woodbury Commons or Scranton.
There simply is nothing available in Sullivan County other than isolated cutesy boutiques.
Now is the time for Monticello’s true rebirth.
Physically, Monticello is beautiful.
The buildings are grand and gracious and their exteriors have been remarkably well preserved.
Monticello, unlike any other town in Sullivan County, has the gravitas to be the retail anchor city that it once was, but it needs a focus.
Here is our suggestion: Monticello should become the location for fashion and home goods outlet stores.
Some of the older towns in New England like Great Barrington in Massachusetts, and Burlington in Vermont have become thriving retail centers through the introduction of factory outlet stores. These factory outlet stores are located in formerly empty storefronts in downtown areas and they have turned these seemingly abandoned stores into mercantile successes; and with them came restaurants, drug stores, and other service stores that do well in high traffic areas.
In the past, the Apollo Mall, in Monticello was the thriving home to outlet stores like Bass, Cannon Towels, Barbizon, and many more nationally known stores. We believe that these stores will return to downtown Monticello if the right offer is made.
Monticello is uniquely located to serve all of Sullivan County. It is at the crossroads of three major roads that lead directly to the rest of the county. Routes 17, 17B and 42 meet in Monticello so the town is less than a half hour away from the most distant part of Sullivan County. It is also easily accessible to Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, and Delaware Counties in New York, as well as Eastern Pennsylvania.
For too long, Sullivan County has been bemoaning the loss of the hotels, and that attitude still colors much of the decision making.
It’s time to move on.
Sullivan County is being recognized as one of the most beautiful vacation areas in New York and has seen substantial growth in the second home market. There are thriving major second home developments throughout the county, and more on their way.
Having a good factory outlet retail center in Monticello will certainly accelerate this development.
We suggest that the owners of the stores in Monticello hire a business development company to attract the same sort of the stores that have so successfully revived so many old New England towns.