Nearly three years after the Town of Rosendale passed a local law allowing the creation of Economic Enterprise Overlay (EEO) zones to foster adaptive reuse of long-languishing properties, such a zone paving the way for the first redevelopment application taking advantage of the new policy has finally been approved. And the property in question is the one that, more than any other, prompted the drive for the creation of EEO zones in the town in the first place: the former Tillson Elementary School, located at 56 Grist Mill Road in the Rosendale’s Tillson hamlet.
It was all smiles at the December 13 Rosendale Town Board meeting as the board voted unanimously to approve the creation of the EEO zone at the school site. “I’m really thrilled that we’ve actually had a property go through this process,” said town supervisor Jeanne Walsh. “The Tillson School has been an eyesore for many years.” Built in 1959, the structure has not been in use as a school since 1983, when the Kingston City School District began closing down some of its more remotely located satellite schools. The building and 8.4 acres of surrounding property were sold in early 2014 to George and Stacy Fakiris, principals of Fortune 488, LLC.
Originally envisioned as a 48-unit apartment complex, the renovation proposal was downsized to 32 apartments after neighbors complained about the likely negative impact on the safety of local roads of such a large residential development. The town board’s approval of the EEO zone for the site included a provision that at least three of the 32 dwelling units must be set aside for affordable housing. “Now it goes on to [the planning board for] site plan review,” Walsh explained.
Issues raised by neighbors during the public hearing process all appear to have been resolved to the satisfaction of Town of Rosendale officials. “This is just the kind of thing we want, from a Smart Growth perspective,” observed councilwoman Jen Metzger.