Kingston’s Stockade District is already seeing a surging real estate market and a cultural renaissance. Now, an infusion of state money is set to transform projects that have existed on paper for years into bricks-and-mortar reality. On Wednesday, Sept. 20, Gov. Andrew Cuomo arrived in Kingston to deliver the news that city had been selected as this year’s Mid-Hudson regional winner of the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
“You did it, you earned it, it’s a smart plan,” Cuomo told an overflow crowd of elected officials and community leaders jammed in among the brewing tanks at Keegan Ales on St. James Street.
That plan was a 15-page application laying out the city’s goals for the Stockade District; Cuomo’s stamp of approval comes with a $10 million award that Mayor Steve Noble said had the potential to transform the neighborhood. Last year, Kingston narrowly missed the first round of DRI funding to Middletown. But Noble said that his team, comprised of planners, grant writers and community development experts, built on their experience to come back with new and better application that beat out dozens of competitors for the grant.
“For us, $10 million is a lot of money,” said Noble. “This really is transformative.”
Noble said he chose the Stockade District to be the focus of the city’s application based on the program’s preference for small, compact neighborhoods’ plans already in place for major innovations and upgrades. The application mentions the O+ Festival and Kingston Stockade FC soccer team as examples of “excitement” over the Stockade District and mentions the city’s desire to support “equitable development” and avoid the worst impacts of gentrification.
The heart of the application is a series of short pitches for projects that would enhance the district and build on existing strengths. Among the projects mentioned are the proposed redevelopment of the city’s Schwenk Drive parking lot, a food market and commercial kitchen planned on Wall Street and a revamped traffic network to bring visitors directly into the neighborhood via I-587 (see accompanying stories). Other projects included in the application include public broadband and Wi-Fi, improvements at Dietz Stadium and the creation of a community land trust to preserve affordability in the neighborhood.
According to Noble, the first $300,000 of the grant will pay for a planning team, provided by the state, which will spend nearly a year working alongside city officials to determine which projects to fund, and how they will be funded. The remaining $9.7 million will be spent directly on the projects themselves.