Martin Ginsburg’s Ichabod’s Landing in Sleepy Hollow is a model for future Hudson River development.
The Hudson River is Westchester’s most overlooked and underdeveloped resource, argues Martin Ginsburg, founder and principal of Ginsburg Development Companies in Valhalla. “Right now, it is the only major river in the world that does not have cruise ships on it,” says the Dobbs Ferry resident. “My goal is to have the rivertowns improve their waterfronts—including attractions along the river—so that the River will become a tourist corridor.”
Ginsburg, who considers himself to be an environmentalist but “I also consider people part of the environment,” envisions a time when tourists visiting the Big Apple will also head north to the Hudson Valley to enjoy a continuous swath of inviting retail shops, tony residential enclaves, and multi-use public trails and green space—all punctuated by a series of high-profile, high-value tourist attractions. Perhaps a Sing Sing museum. “It’s something I’ve been promoting for a long time,” Ginsburg says. “Alcatraz in San Francisco draws one-and-a-half million visitors a year. You could do a serious museum at Sing Sing and even establish a penology research center there.”
What’s sorely needed, he says, is better transportation along Westchester’s river corridor, something he has been advocating. He is responsible for the commuter ferries that connect Haverstraw and Ossining, as well as the ferry running between Haverstraw and Wall Street in Manhattan. He is also the creator and lead sponsor of the Hudson Ferry-Go-Round, daylong events that offer discounted boat rides among many of the rivertowns. “Ferries and cruise ships put people on the river. And if you could combine the railroad with ferries and cruise ships, then you could really move a lot of people around the river and rivertowns.”
Ginsburg argues that the increased flow of people will also help the rivertowns revitalize their main streets. “Almost all the rivertowns, with the exception of Tarrytown, are sucking wind.” The problem, as he sees it, is that the rivertowns don’t connect. “It’s all fractionalized; one town doesn’t know what the next town is doing, and they don’t care. You have to have an overall plan and structure that they can all work towards, and they’d all be enriched in the process.
“Part of the overall vision I’m trying to promote is the continuous trails along the river,” continues Ginsburg, who has donated $10,000 to the county government to use as seed money to integrate the disparate trails along the river, dubbed RiverWalk by the county. “They’ve since mapped a good part of the waterfront now with trails and are working to connect them.” One of the first sections of the RiverWalk to be completed is the promenade part of Ginsburg’s Ichabod’s Landing residential community in Sleepy Hollow’s; another section will be completed as part of the Harbor Square riverfront community he’s developing in Ossining.
Ginsburg cites his riverfront development in Haverstraw as a model for success. “We have master-planned their entire waterfront with the village. We’ve come up with a plan that includes one-and-a-half miles of continuous promenade. And it’s not some little asphalt trail—the trail will have historical markers and sculptures running throughout. And we’re reusing old industrial sites to create attractive residential development.
“If you could get the rivertowns to treat their waterfront in a more serious way,” he says, “you’d have the largest outdoor museum in the world.”