Athens, N.Y.: A ‘Perfect Combination of Old and New’ on the Hudson

“My real estate agent insisted we go look at this small hotel in Athens — which, of course, we’d never heard of,” said Ms. Ballinger, who lives in Mount Kisco, N.Y. “Athens is a perfect combination of old and new. You have people who have lived here for five or six generations, and you have a lot of newcomers who moved in even before Covid.”

Newcomers and old-timers alike congregate at the local coffee shop, the Athens Rooster, opened two years ago by Melissa Chmelar, a former New York City restaurateur, and her husband, Jonathan Griffith. Denise McCarroll, the former owner of the Catskill bistro 394 Main, recently opened a restaurant called Seconds on the ground floor of one of Ms. Bennett’s buildings, 7 Second Street. When Catskill Bread Co., a wholesale bread business in Catskill, opened a retail shop on Second Street this summer, lines for the freshly baked loaves stretched down the block.

Many residents shop in Catskill and Hudson because Athens has no big-box retailers or grocery stores. “We found we don’t need some of the things we thought we needed,” Ms. Hart said. “My neighbors and I laugh at each other as we trot off to Walmart and Price Chopper, but we’ve learned you can get almost everything there, and then there are gourmet shops around.”

The growing popularity of Athens is reflected in its real estate prices.

The median sale price for a single-family home jumped nearly 20 percent, to $427,290, during the first eight months of this year, from $357,243 during the same period last year, according to the Columbia Greene Board of Realtors. Even more striking, the median sale price in 2019, before the start of the pandemic, was just $197,000 — less than half of what it is now.

In late September, Zillow showed 16 single-family homes for sale in Athens, from a three-bedroom Federal home in need of restoration, listed for $225,000, to a five-bedroom log home on 1.54 acres with lake frontage, listed for $1.4 million. The log home is in Sleepy Hollow Lake, a 2,200-acre private community with 842 homes around a large man-made lake, with amenities including tennis courts, a driving range, two swimming pools and an events lodge; in 2022, annual dues were $1,892.

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