Developers meet the people, talk about ‘Kingstonian’ project

A rendering of the Kingstonian, with North Front Street in the foreground.

Those behind the Kingstonian, a mixed residential, hotel, commercial, parking and public space project being pitched for the heart of the Stockade District, said at a public presentation Tuesday, Oct. 23 that they expect to have their first documents before the planning board sometime in November. If all goes smoothly with the site plan and state environmental quality review, they hope to begin work in the fall of 2019 with a total construction time of 18 months.

Tuesday’s meeting took place before a crowd numbering well over 100 at the LGBTQ Community Center of the Hudson Valley. Following an introduction by Mayor Steve Noble, Joe Bonura Jr. of JM Development Group, who is partnering with the Jordan family’s Herzog Supply Co. on the $52 million project, of which $6.8 million will come from state grants, talked about his family’s history of doing various projects in Poughkeepsie and Newburgh, and described the Kingstonian plan in detail.


The basics: the Kingstonian will be made up of two buildings straddling Fair Street Extension, one where the current brick warehouse structure used by Herzog’s now stands and the other where the city parking lot now sits. The plan calls for 129 “market-rate” rental units aimed for, Bonura said, “young professionals and empty-nesters.” Seventy-six of these would be one-bedroom; 50 would be two-bedroom; three would be three-bedroom. Bonura said the one-bedroom rents would start at $1,350 a month with the larger units going for $2,000 and higher. “We’re hoping to keep rents as low as we can and still make the project work,” Bonura said. “One way this project helps [with affordable housing] is by adding supply.”

All apartments, he said, will have their own washers and dryers and balconies. A pool area, dog park and other amenities are also planned, Bonura said. “Our residents don’t have children,” he said. “They have pets, and their pets are their children.”

The project is also projected to contain 8,000 square feet of commercial space, expected to include one or two restaurants — Elena’s Diner at the bottom of the hill will be demolished — small retail tenants and, possibly, a bank tenant. (During the Q&A part of the meeting, Bonura, after an audience member said “the last thing Uptown needs is another business that’s closed nights and weekends,” said he was open to any business for that space “that makes sense.”) Bonura guessed that space would be rented for approximately $22 per square foot, depending on a number of factors.

Joe Bonura Jr. describes the project. (Photo by Phyllis McCabe)

The brick warehouse, which began life as the first Kingstonian more than 100 years ago, will be rebuilt for a 32-room boutique hotel. While most of the original architectural elements of the original are lost to history, Bonura said the posts that held up the porch roof are still there, buried in brick, and will be unburied. “What we can reuse and repurpose from the building, we will,” he said, adding that the Kingstonian’s design will take its architectural cues from neighboring structures.

The parking garage component is key the project in a number of ways. The Kingstonian’s genesis came after the city issued a request for proposals two years ago for someone to come in and deal with the site of the former parking garage. JM Development is proposing a 420-space structure, of which at least 250 spaces would be devoted to public parking. A payment in lieu of taxes agreement would be sought for the parking component, Bonura said, but would be limited in duration. “When the garage is paid for, we won’t need a PILOT anymore.”

Bonura also made some predictions as to how much JM would charge for people to park there — $1.50 an hour and $60 a month. He said that for that money, a lot more than what the city currently charges, people would be able to park in a covered structure with security and elevators rather than an open lot, and would be guaranteed a space. “[Parking structures] are money-losing ventures,” Bonura said. “They’re expensive and difficult to keep up.” Noble noted that with the increase in parking the structure would provide, the city might be able to close the two lots on North Front Street and redevelop those sites.

The space between the two buildings would be used for an “open-air pedestrian plaza” that would be an official city park, Bonura said. “Maybe this is the place where the holiday tree or menorah gets placed,” he said. “Maybe this is the place where historic tours get started.”

There would also be an ADA-compliant walking bridge extending over Schwenk Drive to the Jordans’ Kingston Plaza.

Noble said the Kingstonian had a great deal of potential to improve Uptown by bringing more residents to patronize local businesses, as well as making parking easier for those coming in from out of town. While acknowledging that “these projects are not easy,” the mayor said, “We believe downtowns are the place where people want to live, work and play.”

There are 11 comments

  1. Love the HV

    This project is the most crucial of all projects proposed in Kingston and will once and for all galvanize Uptown
    as one of the Hudson Valley’s strongest, thriving “downtown’s”. There is a forward and positive momentum
    happening here that has not been seen since the collapse of IBM in the region.

    New investment, much of it from small business owners is rehabiliting our emtpy retail, residential and decaying streets and neighborhoods. New business is hiring locally, from contractors and designers to owners and employees. Toursim is up, way up, and only will strengthen with the opening of new lodging and once this project is developed will put even more 24-hour life in one of our prime commercial districts.

    This is a win all the way around and anyone arguing otherwise either does not want to see Kingston succeed, or has some alterior motive in mind. Let’s get on board and get this thing built. It will only benefit us all.

    1. Sally

      Wait, so anyone arguing against this has a motive? Criticism is KEY for developing sound and smart projects. There are a few red flags here that have nothing to do with shady conspiracy theories. If you “love the Hudson valley” then you should be careful to buy into developer’s promises without thinking critically. Don’t believe the hype!

      One, the types of jobs that are being offered. These are no doubt, part time jobs with little to no benefits. Service industry jobs are a large part of Uptown’s economy already, and people are having to assemble 2/3 jobs to pay the rising rent and cost of living. How will the Kingstonian “revitalize” the area by simply bringing in more part time jobs? Do these jobs offer room for growth?

      Second, the parking structure is going to be private, which means that residents who have purchased City of Kingston parking passes will have to pay an additional cost to park. While this may offer more street parking, I think people should be wary of large parking structures as a solution for our parking needs, especially if this means that the public lots will eventually be shut down. There was already a large parking structure there before the Kingstonian, and it eventually had to be demolished…

      Lastly, the move towards a tourist economy has sunk the community spirit of so many upstate towns and cities. Regular people no longer feel at home in communities like Woodstock, Rhinebeck, Beacon, and many many more. Look beyond New York State to communities on Cape Cod that have focused around tourism. Tourists do not support communities, they provide a small blip of cash, and eventually move on. Kingston is trending right now, but it is a foolish mistake to think we will be able to capture these dollars for years to come. Once the Upstate aesthetic falls out of favor, we will be stuck with higher property taxes, businesses that will move on once the money is gone, and diluted sense of community. Where are these “young professionals” working? $1350 for a one bedroom is not a sustainable rental cost for our area. We are trying to lure rich people into our area, are blind to the realities of the wealthy lifestyle. Wealthy individuals have the ability to move whenever they like. When Newburg starts its inevitable rise towards gentrification, we will lose every last one of these residents and businesses that have popped up over the past 3 years. Businesses will expand beyond their means, duped by the dollars they now have access to. We have seen business after business pop up in uptown Kingston that are focused on overpriced luxury goods. Boutiques are not going to save Uptown. Why do we need over 3 luxury furniture stores in a 3 block radius? Why are we allowing our local cost of living to go up so drastically? So we can be featured on some rich person’s Instagram? We should invest in affordable housing, and stop chasing the idea that Kingston will somehow replace Brooklyn. Lets learn from the mistakes of the communities around us instead of falling into the same trap, chasing the flighty attention of the wealthy.

  2. Maryanne Nawojchik

    I am an “empty nester”looking to move to the Catskill area- this sounds like a great idea to me!!🤗

  3. Veleta

    Way to drive out the people who live here because it’s affordable. Bye bye artists! Make room for empty nesters! They are perfect tenants because they don’t need jobs. Congratugentrification Kingston! Can’t wait to have more coffee shops with$10.50 egg sandwiches!

  4. Dan Wyld

    This is the worst idea I’ve seen yet on so many levels. From hyper inflated “market price” to screwing with our parking yet again to not even adding anything if substance that brings in money… Only takes it away from the people who already can’t afford this crap.

    Also, pets aren’t children…

  5. Give Bac

    Sounds 150% better for Kingston then Rupco’s Alms House “nonprofit” scam. Wish much success to the investors, Kingstonian’s who actually give back.

    1. Susan

      The Kingstonian is going to give back to its investors, with tax breaks that the rest of us will be paying for. The Alms House by RUPCO will provide senior housing and those who find themselves displaced by projects which benefit the few in Uptown Kingston.

  6. Cristopher Livecchi

    I have to wonder what kinds of small retail outfits can afford $22/sq ft rents. They are certainly not the kinds of shops that local residents want or need. If Kingston wants to support small businesses and local entrepreneurs (much less the need for affordable housing for people who already live here), the planning board should think long and hard about the consequences of this plan.

  7. Zach

    This project seems just too big for the surrounding neighborhood, changing the character of that area for the worse, and would cater to transient wealth. We’d lose even more parking, as well as access, with the loss of the street. I’d rather have a multi level parking lot with a beautiful public park on top, and across the street, the warehouse converted to housing that has true affordable rents and welcomes families. The way things are going, we’ll probably have to say goodbye to even more of the shops that have helped make the area unique and attractive, and welcome places that sell things like $1500 varnished stumps.

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