Massive Cioni bid: ‘We were all flabbergasted’

The Cioni Building (photo by Phyllis McCabe)

A New York City based-LLC has sent Uptown Kingston’s real estate boom to new heights by placing a $4.2 million bid on a Crown Street building owned by the Kingston City School District.

The Kingston City School District has been seeking to sell its current administrative headquarters at 61 Crown St. since 2013. In 2014, the district turned down two bids of approximately $660,000 on the property. Last year, Mexican hotel chain Grupo Habita unveiled a proposal to buy the building for $1 million for conversion into a 34-room boutique hotel. Instead, on the recommendation of Kingston real estate broker Joe Deegan, the district placed the parcel back on the market with an asking price of $2.25 million.

Friday’s bid by 61 Crown Street LLC came in at nearly double the asking price for a total of $4,253,000. The next highest bidder, Hoboken, N.J.-based Ironstate Holdings LLC, offered $1.8 million with a free lease-back period of up to two years or $2 million with a one-year lease-back period with a rent of $10 per square foot.

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A representative for 61 Crown Street LLC told the Kingston Times that the $4.2 million offer was made on behalf of BRE Properties. State records indicate that BRE Properties is a “Foreign Limited Liability Corporation” based at 544 Hudson St. in New York City. LLC’s associated with the company are listed as owners of a number of Manhattan residential and commercial properties. Deegan said that he did not know what the high-bidder’s plans were for the property.

BRE represents Neil Bender, owner of Manhattan-based William Gottlieb Real Estate. The company has extensive holdings in lower Manhattan and in recent years has branched out to northern Dutchess County, where Bender owns the Rhinecliff Hotel, Foster’s Coach House Restaurant and other property in the Village of Rhinebeck.

Kingston real estate broker Nan Potter entered the bid on behalf of Ironstate. Potter said the company’s bid reflected “carrying costs” that would need to be borne by the new owner for at least a year or more between when the deal closed and when the school district vacated the space.

“I think they wanted it very badly,” said Potter of BRE’s super-sized bid. “We were all flabbergasted.”

The bid on the Cioni Building comes as real estate prices in the city’s historic Stockade District have gone into an upward spiral. Much of the market has been driven by New York City-based developers like Bender and Charles Blaichman who recently rounded out his Uptown portfolio with the purchase of the Opera House, a historic building on Fair Street that houses office space. While Potter said that she expected prices to continue rising in the neighborhood, she added that she did not believe BRE’s bid would set a new neighborhood standard.

“Personally, as a realtor I don’t see how it could set the bar,” said Potter of the BRE bid. “My biggest fear is that people who have a $1 million property now think they have a $2 million property. No, your property did not become worth $2 million overnight.”

The school board will meet this week to consider the bids.

There are 3 comments

  1. endrun

    You have a former public school building being bought on Crown St. to be made into a hotel and spa for $4.2 million, and on another side of town you have a property much more suitable for that usage that will probably now sit vacant—- forever.
    What’s so dreadfully wrong with this picture???? And what’s with this school district’s rather unbelievable “stroke of luck”?(so they can hold more meetings in secret that shouldn’t be and keep things secret from the public that shouldn’t be..and just pay lawyers in case anyone decides to sue?…..a wonderful tradition with their ever-increasing arrogant selves).

  2. Valley Guy

    First of all – Kingstonians need to get a little skip back in their step. I get it, IBM did a real number on the area and it left an inferiority complex in the community. Well, guess what?! Those days are long gone and Kingston is very attractive to very many people. Aside from having hundreds of amazing architectural gems, it stands on the front line of a true renaissance that if we all pull together and work together can make us a global destination for tourism, small makers of hand-crafted goods sold here and throughout the world’s
    design communities. We can be a food destination, a cultural destination, and see our neighborhoods brought back to new life with excitement and much love. Let’s not be surprised by this sale – let’s accept it! That is good money for our schools, a fantastic chance to restore a beautiful building and the opportunity to host guests in our community with great pride. There are literally hundreds of people moving here who are putting in sweat equity and bringing us things to enjoy as local from new food and stores and yes, new jobs. Communities with well-established tourism industries can flourish with ‘hospitality’ jobs that pay our local employees 35K / 50K / 75K / 100K+ if you are in management. This doesn’t even begin to include the new tax revenue that ultimately offsets residential property taxes. This is a great offer and with 3 boutique hotels now underway Uptown we will all be amazed to see how much further we can go to bring Kingston into the forefront as a major tourism and cultural destination. It will take hard work, but nothing easy is ever worth it.
    Applause and let’s get working!!!

  3. endrun

    Ok you make some good points but here are some others:1)this COUNTY is not foursquare behind tourism. It’s played “hide and go seek” with the rails and the trails for umpteen number of years and is still doing that. If you think a bunch of wide-eyed refugees from NYC is going to turn Kingston into the Emerald City, well hopefully you are young enough so that you may see it if you see 80. 2) “Good money for our schools”(as if this isn’t the case already–take a look at the budget that passed this year for FY ’17-’18 at $161 million—it’s GOOD MONEY for schools no matter HOW you slice it). 3) There is nowhere to go for either young people fresh out of school OR Seniors, as this COUNTY destroyed what was left of the old Infirmary model and more recently arranged the setup where the city of Kingston just DESTROYED the older Alms House which was once used for that purpose as well. There’s LESS to do here for young people than the great youth exodus of the 1970’s and beyond!! So yes, if you make the demographic oh, 22-50 EXCLUSIVELY– that’s about all you CAN do for Kingston–and that’s only a “maybe.” It can be a bedroom community for visitors from everywhere and a non-community for everyone else(ie, everyone else can run a B&B and the rest broker investments). That’s within reach and about the only thing that is within reach. 4) Yeah and what did this COUNTY do with the resort proposed in the boonies that would bring such jobs? Squelched it for every pretext and all pretexts at every turn. You certainly can’t accomplish such things whilst folks work at cross-purposes. Or can you? Well….maybe in your dreams……….I liked the song from Debbie Gibson but look….even SHE had to grow up and face the music of reality. And the final thing is 5)You cannot have efficiency without Kingston merger with Ulster. You will then have access to more grants, more chances to apply the successes Ulster has already learned and more of a chance that affording this place is possible for people and businesses by consolidating services. The silly political parties don’t want that because that will mean change and change is so scary for everyone here I am surprised that when they see their shadows they don’t run for the Catskills!! But without change, you will have the same sorts of silly and stupid fights we just saw over the Alms House and RUPCO. Well hell’s bells, vandalism and graffiti await that building as surely as the man’s name who treated John Wilkes Booth was Mudd. And what the hell….should we be surprised to see a $ 4.2 million offer on an old school building–to turn into a hotel and spa in Kingston–while that Alms House COULD NOT BE SOLD TO ANYONE!! I say if that doesn’t at least SURPRISE a person, I want to know just WHAT he or she is SMOKING!!!

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