What is this project again?
The Kingstonian is a $60-million development with 143 apartments (14 designated as affordable), 8000-square-feet of commercial/restaurant space, a 32-room boutique hotel, a parking garage with 420 spaces (277 for paid public use), pedestrian plaza, and footbridge to the Kingston Plaza. It’s located at the site of municipal parking lot between Schwenk Drive and North Front Street, and spans Fair Street Extension, to a parcel now occupied by a Herzog’s warehouse, which would be demolished to make way for the boutique hotel. The project has received a commitment of $6.8 million in state grants as part of the Downtown Revitalization
Who’s behind it?
JM Development Group and the Herzog Supply Co. JM Development is made up of partners and brothers Joseph Bonura and Michael Bonura, who also own Bonura Hospitality Group, as well as Patrick Page of Patrick Page Properties in Newburgh. The Bonuras also own and operate The Grandview, The Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel and Shadows on the Hudson in Poughkeepsie. The Herzog company, principals Bradley and Todd Jordan, own Herzog’s Home Center and the Kingston Plaza.
Is it going to be built?
That will depend on a number of factors. The immediate concern is whether the project will receive a requested payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement that would save it $30 million in taxes over 25 years. Developers say the project won’t work without it, and point out the public good of the parking garage to support their case. The tax agreement needs to be approved by the relevant taxing authorities before being referred back to the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency for a final ruling, including the city’s common council, Kingston school district and the county legislature. So far, the common council has given the OK. The other two bodies are awaiting a detailed independent cost-benefit analysis of the project, which is expected by Friday, October 16. The Ulster County Legislature next meets October 20, and the project is expected to be a topic of discussion.
Will it be built if the tax breaks are given?
Not necessarily. The project still needs site-plan approval and to secure financing. It also faces a lawsuit seeking to overturn a planning board ruling that it would not pose a significant environmental impact on the area, a decision that significantly reduces the scope of the review process. That suit was filed by Neil Bender, a real-estate investor with extensive holdings in Uptown.
Who supports/opposes the project?
Kingston Mayor Steve Noble is a big supporter. He issued the following statement in July: “The Kingstonian project is of great importance to our City – not only will it bring desperately needed housing stock to our community, along with much-needed parking, the hotel and retail spaces will bring visitors and tax revenue. The developers have committed to paying a living wage for all new jobs created to operate the apartments, hotel and garage complex, and the public plaza will be a welcomed addition to Uptown. A PILOT for this project will have no negative tax implications, only positive!” The city’s common council agreed, with all eight members who could vote granting approval for the tax agreement (alderman Steven Schabot had to recuse himself as an employee of Herzog’s).
Prominent opponents, in addition to the investor suing to overturn to planning board’s ruling, include Kingstoncitizens.org, which has labeled the project a “luxury” development too expensive for residents to afford (rents are expected to be around $1,600 a month) and criticized the tax breaks as overly generous, concluding that the project could actually cost the city money, for example, by adding new students to the school district.
The topic has been a frequent issue among residents as well, with criticism of the project’s design and tax breaks on one side, while supporters say the additional public parking, new jobs (temporary and permanent), and new development is badly needed.