Ellenville Applying for TV Show Makeover

By Mike Randall, Times Herald-RecordELLENVILLE – The village is hoping to boost its image, with a little help from a TV show.Ellenville has applied to be featured on “Home Town Takeover,” a six-episode series promising to make over an entire town. It’s set to air next year on the cable network HGTV.A video compiled for their entry and now posted on Ellenville’s YouTube channel has already gone viral.Mayor Jeffrey Kaplan said the TV show is just one avenue being followed as the village tries to come back economically.“We really feel we are on a rebound,” Kaplan said. “Just today I was in Walmart, and four people stopped me and said they are excited about our chances.”Ellenville also intends to apply for the next round of funding from the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, which already brought millions for downtown revival to Middletown and Kingston.The video highlights Ellenville’s economic ups and downs, from the 19th Century when a glass bottle works and a tannery fueled the local economy, to the 20th Century, when Channel Master was a leading maker of TV antennas and the village was part of the Borscht Belt with the Nevele.The latest round of hard times came as Channel Master was sold and moved to South Carolina, the Nevele folded, and malls drew customers away from Ellenville’s downtown shops on Main Street.The application deadline was this past week. There’s no word yet on when Ellenville will know if it’s been selected.So what does Ellenville need?Well, for one thing, a good hotel or motel. As the video notes, a big gap right now is overnight lodging. Hotels or motels are expensive propositions, and the ones that are in town “are in urgent need of an HGTV ‘Home Town Takeover’ makeover.”Kaplan said the lack of hotels or motels could be addressed either by the makeover or the DRI grant.“We could build some nice boutique hotels,” he said.There already are signs of a comeback. Ellenville lately has been benefiting from the 20 million people living in and near New York City, many of whom spend their weekends in the Hudson Valley. Ulster County has targeted them in its tourism publicity, and the village has drawn its share of tourists.It’s one reason that at least 10 restaurants that opened on Canal Street have succeeded. The street now has a second, unofficial name: Restaurant Row.“Ten restaurants in Ellenville is more than we had in our heyday,” Kaplan said.The Shadowland Theater also is prospering on Canal Street, and the nearby Rail Trail draws hikers.Gerald Berliner, the photographer and advertising pro who produced the video, is a London native who now calls Ellenville home.“It’s the best-kept secret around here,” Berliner said of the village.Kaplan said Airbnb rental units are picking up, too, and unlike some communities, Ellenville hasn’t automatically discouraged them.“We don’t have a NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard) mentality here,” Kaplan said. “Our mentality is that we start with a yes.”mrandall@th-record.com