The Kingston Common Council voted (8-1) to approve the transfer of the municipal parking lot parcel at 21 North Front Street to the Kingston Local Development Corporation (KLDC), the agency that will then turn over the property to the developers of the Kingstonian project.
The transfer would allow the Kingstonian project to move forward in its plans of building a mixed-use development at the site. A recent public hearing included strong opinions on both sides, but there was little doubt that the council would approve the transfer, as it was always part of the project; indeed, it would be part of any project at the site, for which the city had been seeking interested developers for years.
The lone no vote was from Alderman Jeffrey Ventura Morell. He said he doesn’t have an issue with the development, but he believes the transfer should be handled by the council instead of the KLDC.
“I wavered on this issue since the public hearing,” said Morell. “Due to the comments made by the members of the KLDC, I will be a no vote on this.”
Two members of the KLDC, Patrice Courtney-Strong and Miles Crettien, expressed their opposition to the transfer at the public hearing on February 25.
Alderwoman Rita Worthington expressed her uncertainty about what decision to make during the council meeting.
“The thing that worries me the most is that members of the KLDC have issues with it,” said Worhtington.
Alderman Don Tallerman said the transfer of the property was outlined since the beginning.
“My perception is that from the very beginning, when the city proposed this project, it was an assumption – why would the city ask for the development of this project at this property if the developer wouldn’t be able to control the property? To me … it goes without saying the property would have to be transferred. We knew that from the start.”
He said he doesn’t think the developer would have gone through the trouble if this was even a question at hand. Other aldermen were also in favor, like Rennie Scott-Childress, who voted yes for the transfer “as a means of increasing public good” with the piece of property.
The Kingstonian would be home to 143 residential units, have a parking garage with a total of 420 spaces (277 public) 8000 square feet of commercial/restaurant space, a 32-room boutique hotel, a pedestrian plaza and a footbridge to the Kingston Plaza. In late January, it was granted a tax-deal worth approximately $28 million from the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency.