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.
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.”