Letter: Outraged by the Kingstonian PILOT

I’m an Esopus resident who owns two brick-and-mortar businesses in New Paltz and served on the New Paltz Town Planning Board for over six years. This letter is co-authored with Maresa Volante who lives in Kingston and owns a bakery in Kingston near the proposed Kingstonian project. We also own a sweets shop together in NYC. 

As business owners who have opened multiple businesses that employ a combined total of 50+ local workers and have never asked for any tax abatements, we are strongly against and outraged by the Kingstonian PILOT. 

New Paltz has already passed a statement of opposition and Hurley and Rosendale also have this pressing issue on upcoming agendas. This PILOT will have countywide implications, as well as particular negatives for any taxing entity in the Kingston City School District. 

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Despite the Kingston school board’s strong vote against it due to the egregious negative fiscal impacts it will create for their school budget for many decades, impacting children/students and taxpayers in the district, for many decades, and as the district faces an estimated $14M in cuts (as in, ~140 teachers/staff eliminations), the Ulster County IDA has approved these harmful tax breaks. 

This is the wrong PILOT for the wrong project at the wrong time. The process has not been transparent and we cannot stay silent when so many are financially hurting in our county and this project could greatly increase the wealth of a short list of investors. Not only are they asking for a PILOT with very significant property tax breaks, they are set to get millions in state REDC/DRI economic development grant monies and they will be clearly set to exploit the fact that the project is in a federal opportunity zone which will lead to even more millions in profits for these investors. 

Let’s put a microscope on this project, as the consequences are significant and do not move us toward an equitable economy. We cannot keep doing economic development like this, if we do, we are in deep trouble.    

Ulster County Legislator Manna Jo Greene noted in her no vote against the PILOT that this project is not green, not at all. Given climate change we needed to stop building construction as is proposed for the Kingstonian decades ago. And the last thing we need is a parking lot in a center, it goes against all contemporary green guidance and climate smart planning. Please also note that the climate exemplar net-zero impact Zero Place in New Paltz, which includes considerable public benefits was constructed without an expensive PILOT, ergo not on the backs of property taxpayers in a pandemic economy in a county where a majority of households needed over 30 percent of their monthly income to keep roofs over their heads even before Covid hit. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Lagusta Yearwood
Esopus

Maresa Volante
Kingston

There are 9 comments

  1. Susan Spencer Crowe

    It is outrageous. All parties should look at what this developer has done in Poughkeepsie and why he is being sued.

    1. Marcy

      Uhhhh. The developer is suing Poughkeepsie. Because Poughkeepsie tried to back out of their agreement. The developer is not being sued. You need to get your stories straight. You’re just listening to gossip from bad actors who don’t want Kingston to succeed. Shame on you.

  2. Steven L. Fornal

    Those opposed to the Kingstonian use the same arguments which are based upon, at best, half-truths. While such arguments are meant to gather supporters in hopes of reaching critical mass to use against the project coming to fruition, they do not tell an honest story.

    FACT: A main complaint among Up Town Business District shop owners has been not anywhere near enough parking; that such limited parking is a big impediment to business growth. The Kingstonian deal proposes a parking garage with 220 spaces for uptown business patrons. The cost of the garage is put at $17 million. Upkeep over 25 years costs another couple of million. If the city were to pay for that parking garage via financing a loan, not only would they pay the cost of the construction but the finance charge over the term of the loan. Coupled with maintenance, that puts the cost to the city at about $26 million which is the amount of the PILOT break. Going with the project, saves the city that much money PLUS brings in 220 spaces that will be maintained for ZERO money down and ZERO money paid out.

    FACT: Another point always brought up is all that school tax money NOT going to the school district. However, there is something like $3 million going to the school district. It’s not like no money. And while opponents use comparative analysis (the school district doesn’t get the many millions of dollars such a project would normally pay without a PILOT), the reality is, without a PILOT, there will be NO project. So arguing that there won’t be as much money coming into the district as would without the PILOT, is really a strawman argument as NO PROJECT means ZERO school taxes coming in rather than the several that will come in.

    FACT: The developers yielded to the call for affordable housing (10 percent) at the behest of the Mayor, thereby providing for 14 units rather than NONE.

    FACT: The project will provide 140 new units of housing. As more and more new housing is constructed, the extremely low vacancy rate will ease thereby bringing down the cost for housing.

    The anti-Kingstonian position seems to be one of wanting affordable housing and, if that cannot be achieved, then to oppose any housing whatsoever. This demonstrates a noncompromising position choosing perfection rather than progress.

    At least be honest about the actual project.

    1. Susan Spencer Crowe

      Taxpayers should not be paying for luxury housing or boutique hotels. Your FACTS are your opinions.

      1. Steven L. Fornal

        Unfortunately for your position re Kingstonian, my facts are facts as have been frequently reported upon.

        BTW, your response is an opinion without any facts whatsoever. Just to be clear on that point.

        Also, calling something “luxury housing” doesn’t make it so.

  3. Arturo

    It is fascinating. There is absolutey nothing in this person’s letter that is true. Aside from having a bad attitude in her brick and mortar business; I stopped shopping there 3-years ago because she was snide, obnoxious, and I’m sorry…you are in the business of selling to the rich people you say you hate. There is not factual anything in her assertions.

    Kingston High School is big, brand new, and gorgeous. Better than any public school I ever had the luxury to attend. So shortfalls, not about taxes, about bad management.

    Aside from that, her baker buddy will literally see a 25 – 30% annual increase in sales because of new residents, new tourists, new jobs.

    The Kingstonian also — in urban design circles — fulfill a desperately needed job in closing the “tooth gaps” in the local street scape. Tooth gaps are large fields of either surface parking or abandoned properties, or both, that obstruct pedestiran traffic. There are no cross walks, no stop lights (only a flashing signal right now) that drivers routinely run without looking. To walk to the grocery story from Uptown is a miserable, deplorable experience. The Kingstonian will restore the streetscape, slow people down, and make walking to services a better, safer experience. The lies told about increased traffic Uptown are just that. Entrances and Exits will service the majority of cars from Schwenk Drive which has virutally no impact on Wall Street or adjacent streets.
    The disdain for The Kingstonian is from entiteld, elitist, exclusively white people who want to keep Kingston suspended in some fantasy of a Williamsburg historic district when the reality is exactly the opposite. Aside from that, Lagusta’s rented retail shop, is the polar opposite from actually building something from the ground up and spending $40 million to do it. Oh, those are jobs. Those are jobs that pay taxes and that workers will spend locally…maybe even in the chocolate shop in New Paltz.

    Build this thing already!

  4. Liz Crotty

    Here we go again Fair Street Extension to be gifted to Brad Jordan, who is Secretary of the Kingston Local Development Corporation. A total conflict of interest, but Jordan and Noble continues to ignore the wishes of the City of Kingston residents. This whole project is a conflict of interest.

  5. Kristin Brown

    Excellent letter. IDAs were created as INDUSTRIAL development agencies. The Ulster County IDA has consistently relaxed its point system to allow for housing and Retail neither of which promote the kind of jobs that investing in Industry would provide. If you review the 2020 audit, you will also see that many of the pilot holders are not fully complying with reporting requirements.

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