Original Article

By Paul Kirby pkirby@freemanonline.com @paulatfreeman

Aug 1, 2020

KINGSTON, N.Y. — Mayor Steve Noble has come out strongly in favor of tax breaks for the developers of the proposed residential/commercial project known as The Kingstonian.

A committee of the Kingston Common Council endorsed the tax relief at a meeting this past week. The matter still must go before the full council and also the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency board. Those meetings are scheduled for Aug. 4 and Aug. 12, respectively.

“The Kingstonian project is of great importance to our city,” Noble said during a recent Facebook Live event. “Not only will it bring desperately needed housing stock to our community, along with much-needed parking, the hotel and retail spaces will bring visitors and tax revenue.
“The developers have committed to paying a living wage for all new jobs created to operate the apartments, hotel and garage complex, and the public plaza will be a welcomed addition to Uptown,” the mayor added. “A PILOT (payment-in-lieu of taxes deal) for this project will have no negative tax implications, only positive!”

The project — proposed by Kingstonian Development LLC and JM Development Group LLC — has an estimated construction cost of $57.9 million and is to include 143 apartments, of which 129 would be rented at market rates. Also proposed are 9,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space, a 32-room boutique hotel, a pedestrian plaza, a foot bridge crossing Schwenk Drive between the new development and Kingston Plaza, and a garage with 420 parking spaces, 277 of which would be for public use.

The project would straddle Fair Street Extension, between North Front Street and Schwenk Drive, and would be partly on property owned by Herzog’s Supply Co., whose president is the principal of Kingstonian Development LLC.

The developers are seeking to have $28.84 million in property taxes waived over 25 years and also receive exemptions for a total of $1.8 million in mortgage, sales and use taxes.

Noble noted that construction of The Kingstonian is to be funded, in part, by money from the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant the city was awarded by New York state in 2016.

In creating a plan for using the state money, the city sought proposals from qualified developers to design, construct and operate a multi-use development that would include housing, commercial and retail space, and public parking.

The Kingstonian plan was a direct result of that call for proposals, Noble said. The mayor said the plan addresses both housing and parking needs, and he noted that 14 of the residential units will be designated “affordable housing” and be priced accordingly, without state or federal subsidies.

The mayor also noted that the developers will pay the entire $17 million cost of creating the planned parking garage and also will pay the roughly $268,000 annual cost of maintaining the garage.

The public will have the use of 277 parking spaces at “zero cost to the taxpayers,” Noble said.

“If the city were to build the parking structure, the estimated municipal cost for 25 years is $30 million,” he said.

A 2008 study by the Ulster County Transportation Council found that “over 95 percent of the people who park on-street [in Uptown Kingston] sometimes have difficulty finding parking, while about 75 percent on those who park off-street have difficulty.”

And Noble noted the study was conducted while the Uptown Parking Garage still was in use.

The garage, which had 317 spaces, was torn down more than a decade ago due to structural problems; the city-owned land where it stood is part of site proposed for The Kingstonian.

“Because The Kingstonian will be built on that property, there will be absolutely no loss of any tax revenue to any jurisdiction,” Noble said.

Also, the mayor said, “under the PILOT, for the portion of the property currently owned by the developers, they will pay all current property taxes plus a 3% annual increase for the length of PILOT … with no new PILOT sought after its termination.”

And if The Kingstonian is more profitable than projected, the developers will share 3% of the additional profit with the taxing jurisdictions — the city of Kingston, Ulster County and the Kingston school district — at a rate proportional to the current tax rate, the mayor said.

“The value of this project for Kingston is enormous,” Noble said. “… With the tax revenue generated from the new businesses, new resident spending in our community, and over 150 new jobs created, the positive ripple effects from this project will be felt in nearly every aspect of our quality of life in Kingston.”

On the other hand, he said, “if this project does not proceed under the current scenario, the parking lot [at the former garage site] will remain at its current capacity, there will be no new jobs, no new sales tax revenue, no affordable housing units, and the private property associated with this project will continue to pay the current taxes.”