RUPCO, best known for helping Ulsterians of modest means get into affordable housing or buy their first homes, is undertaking a new project aimed at bringing jobs and investment to Midtown Kingston.
The proposal calls for the conversion of a largely vacant former furniture factory into a film production facility and space for small manufacturers and artisans.
“This is the first time we’ve done a project that does not have a housing element to it,” said RUPCO Director of Community Development Guy Kempe. “But building community and building wealth in the community is something we’ve always been about.”
The project, dubbed “The Metro,” calls for the renovation and repurposing of a 70,000-square-foot single story industrial building at 2 South Prospect St. The building was erected as a furniture factory in 1946. Later it served as a records storage facility for the MetLife insurance company. Today it is almost entirely vacant.
RUPCO’s proposal calls for repurposing the building as the new home of Stockade Works, a film production company headed by actor and director Mary Stuart Masterson. Plans call for the company to occupy about 40,000 square feet of the building, which will include conference rooms, editing suites, a soundstage and a 100-seat screening room. The new space is intended to compete with downstate production facilities like Silver Cup Studios and capitalize on new tax incentives for TV and film production.
The remainder of the space will be outfitted for use as “maker space” by small manufacturers who can share the facility’s loading docks, parking and common areas while maintaining their own production facilities.
The project is located in the heart of a Midtown revitalization zone where RUPCO has developed the Lace Mill artist housing community in a long-vacant factory and is in the process of developing mixed-use, mixed-income housing at the site of a former bowling alley on Cedar Street. The neighborhood revitalization plan calls for the creation of new jobs and training opportunities in industries like film, food production and small manufacturing that have begun emerging in the city in recent years.
Kempe said that the project was part of a larger effort to create a “new logic” for a local economy that was built around long-gone mainstays like IBM and the brick factories.
“The idea is to take these factories that have lain fallow for more than a generation and press them into service in a way that makes sense for today’s economy,” said Kempe. “That creates jobs and builds wealth in the community in the same way IBM did.”
Plans call for the $12 million project to be funded through a mix of grants and historic preservation tax credits that can be exchanged for investment dollars. The project has also received priority status through the Mid-Hudson Regional Development Council. The designation means that the plan will have a leg up in competing for state grants under the Consolidated Funding Application process.