Five years ago, I’m fresh off the plane from Europe. After ten years bouncing around the world, I decided to head back to the USA to be near family. They had recently settled in Saratoga Springs, so naturally, I joined them there.
No question Saratoga has its charms. A wide main street, lots of shops, bars and restaurants, lively summer happenings, what’s not to love? Still, it is a small resort town catering to the tourists in July and August and well suited for families year round – a nice sanitized lifestyle. Then, I heard about Troy.
On my first visit, I gaped in awe at the magnificent Victorian architecture along the Hudson River: triangle-shaped office buildings, marble banks, ornately adorned retail shops, old-world brownstones, tree lined streets and outdoor cafes. For three years, I stood on my soapbox extolling the virtues of the Collar City to the locals only to be scoffed at as they recounted the horrors of drive-by shootings and arsons. Then, I walked my talk and moved there.
Today, my apartment along the Hudson has a waiting list. Developers have bought all but a few of the most magnificent Troy structures and are turning them into luxury lofts, unique offices for startups, fast-growth tech firms and supporting professions. Bars and restaurants are popping up and becoming the most talked about places to go. Am I a real estate psychic? Maybe.
Living the Trojan life, I often hear that Troy is the new urban cool. In fact, I’ve heard many times that Troy is the new Brooklyn. Since I had never been to that part of NYC, I had to see for myself. Last week, in 90o heat, I traipsed around the Williamsburg borough for two days trying to blend in with the local hipster crowd. Armed with a flyer outlining the similarities to Troy yet with a lower cost of living and inexpensive real estate, I visited 50 shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes to evangelize the value of Brooklyn’s little sister-city north along the Hudson.
What I learned is that Troy has grit much like Williamsburg. The industrial-look-and-feel of Troy’s Peck’s Arcade, Slide ‘n Dirty and The Shop are reminiscent of many Brooklyn hot spots. Our stores’ unique goods rival that of big city merchandise without the price tag.
What Troy lacks, however, is edge. Distinctly missing is the grim, the smells, the graffiti. Instead, Troy is a sanitized Williamsburg. A city who shares the same river yet the flow is gentler; the pace a bit more rhythmic; the surrounding hills more inviting.
Like Troy’s industrial past, it is a city of entrepreneurs – artisans and inventors with vision. It’s attracting people that want to make things that want to create what wasn’t there. Brooklyn, by comparison, is a city of immigrants. It has been a cheap place to set up a home, to build a community. It’s eventually a place that people out grow and move on.
With this view, I called up the Brooklynites. I look to other true visionaries who go against the grain, those who see an alternative way forward that are tired of copycats. I call to you to pull up stakes, come to Troy, build a business and create a sustainable future.
Deanna Dal Pos is a commercial real estate specialist at NAI Platform focused on finding businesses the right properties and investments in the Capital region. Check out her website here> www.troycommercialrealestate.com.