FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 18, 2022
A STATEMENT FROM MAYOR NOBLE REGARDING THE KINGSTONIAN APPROVALS:
I am pleased to announce that the Kingston Planning Board has given site plan approval to the Kingstonian project. This is the final approval needed for this long-awaited project to move forward.
As it should be, the approval process has been extensive, and the project has been scrutinized at every level. I believe that this deep analysis has made the concept stronger, the project more in line with the community, and makes the Kingstonian something we can be proud of.
On August 19, 2016, the City of Kingston released an RFQ for an “Adaptive Development of Uptown Parking Sites for Mixed Use.” At that point in time, parking was the City’s biggest issue. We still have a lack of parking Uptown, but in the years since, the need for housing – at all levels – has taken priority. Communities across the Country are in a housing crisis, and our City is no different. In 2020, Ulster County had the steepest increase in housing costs in the United States. This has thrown our City into a housing emergency. We recently enacted the Emergency Tenant Protection Act, are working to rezone our entire City to be more equitable, have created a disposition policy for zombie homes, continue to support our Land Bank, and are currently working with a number of developers to build housing at every income level across Kingston. All of these actions work toward a common goal of helping to improve our housing situation and ensure that no one is displaced.
The Kingstonian project is one of the most studied and involved community-input processes we’ve ever had, and I believe the project has improved through each step in its evolution. By taking into account considerable community feedback on design, adding an affordable housing component, and making changes to the original PILOT agreement providing all taxing jurisdictions with additional payments, the developers have been willing to adapt this project and respond to community feedback. The end result is the best project for the community at exactly the right time for our Uptown Business District.
This project was what we needed in 2016, and what we need now more than ever. For over a decade the site has remained vacant, with the City looking for developers in 2008, 2013 and 2016. Answering the need for parking, public amenities, and providing hospitality for visitors Uptown, the Kingstonian developers came through with a plan for a mixed-use project to include retail and restaurant space, 129 market rate apartments with 14 units of affordable apartments and a 32-room hotel, as well as a 420-space parking garage, open-air plaza, and an ADA compliant pedestrian bridge that will connect to the Kingston Plaza over Schwenk Drive.
Throughout this process, community feedback has improved the project. This is how civic engagement should work, and I’ve always highly valued public input. However, frivolous lawsuits from a New York City corporation have taken away from the housing and economic opportunities that Kingston residents deserve. This opponent of the project could be using his time, energy, and Uptown properties to meet the community’s needs, but instead he is committed to spreading disinformation about the project and wasting untold taxpayer dollars. With full-page ads, he and his associates have lied about our Fire Department, lied about the City’s demand for housing, and lied about the great work of our Recreation Commission. William Gottlieb Real Estate’s unprecedented litigation onslaught has been disingenuous at best, and at worst, destructive to our community.
I believe the outcome of last night’s Planning Board decision shows that, even though an entity like his may have unlimited resources, good will always prevail. And here, the good is for the City of Kingston and our community.
As I first said in 2017, the Kingstonian project will be transformative for Kingston and, in particular, the Stockade District. This decision last night by the Planning Board, after multiple years of review, will allow the project to reinvigorate this underutilized area at the heart of our business district. A parking lot will be transformed into a vibrant mixed-use community with ample public amenities that will support the Kingston economy for years to come.
I want to thank the various City staff and boards who have worked on this project including Suzanne Cahill, City Planner; Dan Baker, City Assessor; current and former Corporation Counsel; the Kingston Local Development Corporation; and the Common Council for their support of this project.
I am so thrilled to see this project move forward, and to see the positive changes that the Kingstonian will bring to our community.