The Kingston Board of Education has approved a reduction in the sale price of the Cioni Building earlier this month, a $781,000 discount school officials believe will clear a path to a closing date.
Last July, the school board approved selling its current administrative headquarters to 61 Crown Street LLC, which is led by New York City-based developer Neil Bender and filed a bid as BRE Properties. The $4.25 million bid, with an eye on turning the property into a boutique hotel and spa, came during an open bidding session on the highly coveted property on Crown Street in booming Uptown Kingston. The next highest bid was for $1.8 million.
At their Jan. 10 meeting, trustees voted unanimously to drop to sale price from $4.25 million to around $3.47 million, following an environmental review done by the purchaser. Superintendent Paul Padalino said the reduction can be traced to a variety of issues with the building.
“In doing their due diligence they found some issues that would cost the buyer money to remediate,” Padalino said. “There are some environmental issues as well as structural issues. In speaking with them and bringing our experts to the table and their experts to the table to come to an agreement on what we thought the value of those issues were. And we did come to an agreement.”
Padalino confirmed that asbestos and mold are among the concerns, but because the extensive environmental report submitted by the purchaser in December was not available for review, there was no further clarification. But over the past few years, Padalino has made it clear that there were many other issues — everything from the roof to ADA compliance — that would have had to be addressed if the district was going to maintain its base of operations in the building. Instead, those issues will be handled by 61 Crown Street LLC and BRE Properties.
“That is a typical part of any negotiation for real estate,” said Trustee Suzanne Jordan. “We wish that they didn’t have to remediate what they did, but it’s not unreasonable.”
Trustee James Shaughnessy noted that even with the reduction in price, the deal is still much more favorable than others on the table.
“It’s still significantly higher, almost double the next highest bid that we received,” he said.
The Cioni Building boasts over 22,000 square feet of building space. Bender’s plans include an adjoining property at 317 Wall St.