Original Article


By Ariél Zangla azangla@freemanonline.com @arielatfreeman

August 4, 2020


KINGSTON, N.Y. — A majority of members of the city’s Common Council appear to favor, with conditions, a proposed payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with the developers of The Kingstonian, a planned mix of residential, hotel and commercial space Uptown.

Their approval would be conditioned on the project meeting a number of requirements, including one that 14 housing units would remain “affordable.”

City Assessor Dan Baker told members of the Common Council during a virtual caucus meeting on Monday, Aug. 3, that four amendments had been made to the minimum terms being recommended for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, agreement for The Kingstonian project proposed for construction at Fair and North Front streets.

Baker said those amendments include making sure the affordable housing remains so for the life of the project and that the developers pay $40,000 in property taxes for the first year of the agreement, increasing that payment by 3 percent each year thereafter. The base tax payment had been approximately $28,000 in an earlier version of the document, Baker said.

Additionally, if the project is more profitable than expected, the owners would share 5 percent of the additional profit with local taxing jurisdictions — the city, Ulster County and the Kingston school district — at a rate proportional to the current tax rate, Baker said. He said that was initially proposed to be a 3 percent share.

The fourth amendment was to ensure the tenants of the affordable housing units would pay 50 percent of what is charged to the market-rate units for parking in the development, Baker said. He said the developers are estimating that market-rate units would be charged $100 per month for parking, meaning the tenants of the affordable units would pay $50 monthly.

“And just to remind the council, this is a supporting framework resolution that we will be passing on to the (Ulster County) Industrial Development Agency and letting them know this is what we expect as the minimum qualifications for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement,” Baker added.

The council is to vote on the resolution during a virtual meeting Tuesday evening, Aug. 4. The county Industrial Development Agency’s board is then expected to resume considering a potential PILOT for the project during a meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 12.

The Kingstonian is proposed to be built on two sites at the intersection of Fair Street Extension and North Front Street, with each of the new buildings extending toward the Schwenk Drive side of the properties. Fair Street Extension would be closed to through traffic as part of the plan, which still is under consideration by the city Planning Board.

One of the properties is owned by the city and currently is used as a municipal parking lot.

The Kingstonian project is to consist of 143 apartments, of which 129 would be rented at market rates. In addition to the apartments, the project is to include 8,000 square feet of retail space, a 32-room boutique hotel, a pedestrian plaza, a footbridge crossing Schwenk Drive between the new development and Kingston Plaza, and a 420-space parking garage, of which 130 spots would be reserved for residents of The Kingstonian.

The project’s cost is estimated to be $57.9 million. The developers are to receive $3.8 million from the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant awarded to Kingston by New York state, as well as other government funding. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding is to be used on portions of the project that benefit the public.

Still outstanding is a lawsuit filed by the owners of some other Uptown properties challenging the city Planning Board’s ruling that the project would have no significant environmental impact. The project also requires site plan approval from the Planning Board.

During Monday’s caucusg, Alderman Jeffrey Ventura Morell, D-Ward 1, said he was glad the developers had listened to community input and agreed to make changes to the PILOT proposal. He said, though, that while he liked the project in theory, he wished his constituents had all the answers to every question they had about it. Ventura Morell said if the project is to be a private-public partnership, it is asking a lot for the public not to have all the details.

Other aldermen argued that the developers have provided more information than others have been asked to give on their projects. They also noted that it is a competitive market and the developers should not have to disclose all the financial details of their project.