The town of Hurley planning board has been in preliminary talks for the development of a site plan for a 46 unit multi-family apartment project in the two buildings that once made up the West Hurley school, which was sold by the Onteora School District to Brooklyn real estate developers in February, 2017.
According to planning board clerk Lisa Mance, there was a preliminary meeting between Hurley officials and the Ulster County Planning Board on July 6 to discuss general issues. The planning board’s next scheduled meeting will be in early September.
“Everyone’s been looking at systems for the property,” Mance said of the 32,262 square foot Levins building and 11,282 square foot Ryan building, located on 36.3 acres on Cedar Street, in the residential hamlet of West Hurley. “They’ve been looking into water, wastewater, and other things.”
Hurley Building Inspector and Code Enforcement Officer Glenn Hosfstatter said that Cedar Development East LLC, who are developing the site for condominium apartments, “first came to us about a year ago to discuss ideas.” He added that they have yet to formally submit plans for planning board review.
“We’ve been getting input and hearing people’s feelings about what’s planned,” he added, saying he didn’t feel it right to report on the feelings that have been expressed to date. “There’s nothing on paper yet.”
Kingston attorney Michael Moriello has been representing Cedar Development East, but was unavailable for comment in time for this article.
Cedar Development East is a limited liability company put together by the principal buyer of the former West Hurley School, Kerry Danenberg, since he and partners put down $40,000 towards an $800,000 purchase price on the property agreed to by the Onteora School Board in early 2017. According to the contract, the purchase was an “all cash sale,” with no financing.
Onteora Superintendent of Schools Victoria McLaren said last week that the sale of the school was still “well into the process” but added that there was “nothing to suggest it won’t complete.”
Esopus to West Hurley
In October 2015, the West Hurley School was announced as sold for the purposes of a new Center For The Investigation of Native and Ancient Quarries for $700,000, but the deal fell through. Danenberg had previously reached a $900,000 agreement with the Kingston School District for the purchase of the former Anna Devine Elementary School in the town of Esopus, which he and his partners later walked away from when they ran into difficulties getting needed zoning changes and a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) deal with town officials.
Danenberg’s group made their offer on the West Hurley School as soon as the property came back on to the market in July, 2016.
Last year, after their bid for the school went to contract with Onteora, a partner of Danenberg’s, Kenan Gunduz, said to Woodstock Times that the two are musicians who own homes in the area. “We are independent developers specializing in adaptive reuse of buildings,” Gunduz added, pointing out that they were looking to provide “reasonably priced apartments” for young professionals, creative types, grad students, and tech professionals.
The school is considered to be part of residential zoning with district officials acknowledging in the contract that Danenberg is “…seeking to obtain a zoning change, variance or use permit which will permit the premises to be utilized for 50 residential units.” The contract had a 30-day window in the event ten percent of qualified voters in the school district petition to challenge the board’s decision on the sale that would require a passive referendum.
In Brooklyn, Danenberg’s company, Select Real Estate, has been involved in the development of East Williamsburg and Bushwick, where among other things he sold a 75,000 square foot warehouse that he had bought for $2.7 million and allowed to be converted into a concert venue, for $26 million three years ago.