The workforce housing plan brokered between City of Kingston mayor Steve Noble and Will Brocker and Mike Amato, owners of the 267-unit Stony Run apartment complex off Hurley Avenue, has been resurrected out of the Laws and Rules committee.
According to common council president Andrea Shaut, a special meeting of the full council will be scheduled on Wednesday, March 22, 7:30 p.m., for the sole purpose of getting the resolution over the finish line.
After asking questions of Brocker at a March 15 meeting, the members of the committee disappeared into executive session to seek legal advice from city corporation counsel Barbara Graves-Poller.
Upon their return, the deliberations made available to the public were perfunctory. The committee members voted once again to send Resolution #58, which authorizes the mayor to enter into this regulatory agreement, back to the full council.
Members of the tenants organizing committee for Stony Run had expressed concerns about the details of the regulatory agreement.
Alder Rennie Scott-Childress had countered that the owners were under a time crunch after seeking loans from federal mortgage financing giants Fannie Made and Freddie Mac. “It’s imperative that that they get their applications in in a timely fashion,” he said.
The proposed regulatory agreement, transfers the Stony Run property to a non-profit housing development fund company. The mayor claims that regulatory agreement will protect the present tenants of the facility from unrestrained rent increases for 40 years.
As part of the change from private to non-profit status in order to leverage the tier of funding that Brocker was seeking, after this agreement vacant units can be rented out for as much as 120 percent of the Area Median Income, the high end of affordable workforce housing.
Under questioning by Childress during the meeting, Brocker claimed that the 120 percent was a number of no importance. “The percent has nothing to do with rents,” said Brocker. “It is purely to get access to affordable funding. The ETPA, the rent guidelines board, sets all rents .… The whole concept of this agreement was to have absolutely no adverse effects on any current resident.”
Scott-Childress said the discussions between the mayor and the owners had resulted in turning a privately held for-profit entity into a state-and-city-regulated not-for-profit, a transformation similar in result to such Kingston projects as Energy Square, the Lace Mill and Spring Brook Village.
The tenants organizing committee had met for two hours to discuss the agreement with the owners of Stony Run the day before the previous council vote. They had walked away “totally conflicted.”
The tenants organization claimed that they were being confronted with an agreement they had not even seen, the creation of which was conducted without their feedback. They complained that things were moving too quickly for their comfort. It was this concern for the tenants, said alder Worthington, that was behind the common council’s rejection of the resolution the previous week.
“It was to buy time for the tenants,” she explained. “We gave that to them. That’s what [the tenants] asked for at the last meeting, to have their attorneys review the paperwork and possibly meet with the mayor. We wanted them to get their answers to their questions, and so that’s why we delayed the vote.”
After the passage of the resolution had been narrowly defeated in full council and sent back to committee, three days later on March 10 the mayor had offered to meet with the tenants on Monday, March 13. The tenants committee had rejected the mayor’s request for an immediate meeting, putting it off until March 27 to buy more time to look the agreement over.
Their primary goal at this point seems to be installing a tenant representative on the housing development fund company.
Brocker and Amato, principals of the Aker Companies, have purchased and operated apartment complexes in the mid-Hudson region. Along with Stony Run, the Aker group purchased the apartment complexes Kingston Waterfront, Lakeshore Villas in Port Ewen and Black Creek Apartments in Esopus. All told, over $80 million changed hands.
“Honestly, just speaking for myself,” said Worthington. “I think it is a good deal. Right? I think that it protects the tenant. And it’s going to protect them for a long time. I think unfortunately there’s been some miscommunication and/or some misinformation that was spread, you know, by our lovely media papers.”