“Say NO to the Kingstonian PILOT” is a remote press conference on Tuesday, September 15th at 5:30pm. Get ready and CLICK ON OUR VIDEO LINK to join us and to learn what you can do.
Or, visit our FACEBOOK EVENT for up-to-date information on the Kingstonian PILOT process.
The Kingstonian is a proposed $50M, 143-unit luxury housing complex with a 32 room boutique hotel, 8,000 square feet of retail space and a 420 parking space complex. It also includes a walking bridge to the Herzog’s Plaza, which is owned by one of the developers. In exchange for closing a public street to create a “pedestrian plaza”, the developer promises a couple of public toilets.
The developer is asking for a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement where they pay no taxes for 25 years; a subsidy worth approximately $30.6M.
The Kingston Common Council unanimously approved the PILOT’s general terms. Although the Council may believe that the tax-free deal for luxury apartments is a good bargain for Kingston, it is only one of the three involved agencies that would be impacted by the PILOT and have to agree to the terms in order for the PILOT to go through. The other agencies include the Ulster County Legislature (UCL) and the Kingston City School District Board of Education (BOE).
A tax-free deal for luxury apartments in Kingston would be felt beyond the Kingston city boundary. Municipalities that pay Kingston City School taxes include the Towns of Esopus, Hurley, Marbletown, New Paltz, Kingston, Rosendale, Saugerties, Ulster and Woodstock. As a result, it’s not just Kingston that will be left with higher school taxes. PILOTs result in less tax revenue, which requires everyone else to make up the difference for a developer that stands to make a windfall in profits with a $30.6 million subsidy courtesy of the City of Kingston’s Common Council.
At a time of financial crisis when the coronavirus pandemic has led to cuts in city services and jobs, loss of tax revenue on this scale could be simply devastating. The proposed Kingstonian PILOT deal could potentially harm the least well off in the city as well as hardworking taxpayers who already struggle to pay high school and property taxes while wealthy real estate developers get a free pass. For county legislators advocating for social justice in housing, services for the poor, and children in need, the PILOT should be particularly worrisome. While not all PILOTs are exploitive, they must be balanced against the potential gains an investor or industry may bring to the area.
There is still an opportunity to stop the giveaway that Kingston’s Common Council shamelessly endorsed. CLICK ON THIS LINK to send a letter to the Ulster County Legislature and say no to developer welfare and tell the Kingston City School Board that education is a public good. Everyone should pay their fair share of school taxes, including wealthy real estate developers.
The Ten Things We Know about
the Kingstonian PILOT
- The Kingstonian luxury housing project offers apartments where the majority of rents would be between $1,500 – $2,850, unattainable to most of the Kingston community.
- The Kingstonian added 14 affordable units to its project after much public outcry, though in doing so it also expanded the number of units (and revenue) overall rather than reassigning those market rate units to be affordable. In short, the developers expanded the number of apartments they would create from 129 to 143, ensuring that the number of market rate units remained the same. As a private developer, the Kingstonian isn’t relying on the state for grants and therefore can use “affordable housing” language without being bound by the same rules as a not-for-profit creating affordable housing. The PILOT agreement at this point is one of the only avenues to outline the units’ starting rent, their size, and annual escalator rate. Without that information established somewhere, the Kingstonian projects affordable units could become market rate at any time with no repercussions.
- The developers’ claim their PILOT request is necessary to offset the costs of the parking garage that the Mayor says is being built as a benefit to Kingston residents. However, the majority of the garage’s users would be residents of the luxury apartments and guests of their boutique hotel. Additionally, the developers often compare the parking requirements of the Kingstonian project as similar to their luxury living project in Poughkeepsie, NY. As it comes to parking needs, this housing complex, located in a remote location near the Amtrak train tracks would seem to have little in common with the Kingstonian’s proposed location in the heart of the historic Stockade busy business district. What they do have in common, however is a similar design and exact amenities.
- According to the Kingston zoning code, the minimum number of spaces needed to serve the Kingstonian project is 313 unless it was granted a waiver. The proposed parking garage, with 420 parking spaces, is clearly insufficient to replace the existing 144 public parking spaces while providing for an additional 313 parking spaces needed by the Project. The Project would therefore result in a net loss of publicly available parking spaces.
- The Kingstonian will set the parking rates for its heated and air conditioned parking garage, and the developers have already stated that these rates will be higher than Kingston’s currently available metered spaces and municipal lots.
- So far, the developers have characterized their financial information, including details about financing and investors, as “trade secrets” and have aggressively sought to shield that financial information from the public. As a “Public/Private Partnership” without this information, the public does not know what portion of the $57,885,000 project is taxable and therefore, has no ability to calculate cost or potential benefits to taxpayers over 25 years. The public also doesn’t know who the investors are and whether conflicts of interest exist.
- The developers say that they would “contribute $5,000 annually (through the Community Foundation scholarship fund) over a ten-year period and will offer two paid internships to mentor high school students in the hospitality and real estate fields to the Kingston City School District.” This translates into $50,000 over the course of 10 years in exchange for paying no school taxes for 25 years. Without the PILOT, their school taxes would be approximately $571,900 per year. Another pittance, in comparison to what would be their share of school tax without a PILOT is the developer agreeing to pay the $40,000 current annual tax payment (with an approximate 3% increase each year) will be divided proportionally among the city, county and school district. If 60% of the payment– or approximately $24,000 a year – is paid to the school district, it would only take 1 1/2 new students to wipe that out.
- The Kingston Common Council, Ulster County Legislature and Board of Education have not, in their public discussions about the Kingstonian PILOT, referenced the multiple lawsuits that are currently pending on the project’s Negative Declaration State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) decision by the Kingston Planning Board.
- In their PILOT request, the Kingstonian applicant is only asked to provide jobs that pay a living wage for a single adult. They state that 84% of the 40 full time jobs it would create pay $20.73 per hour, which is not nearly enough for that single person if they were raising a child in the community. Such a worker will certainly not earn enough to live in the Kingstonian luxury apartments and will have a hard time finding an apartment nearby at an affordable monthly rent. Poor paying jobs like this could end up being a second job for that single person, who might end up living outside of the Kingston community due to the lack of affordable rentals in a county with a low vacancy rate.
- The additional 150 jobs that the Kingstonian says it will create are construction jobs, which are neither permanent nor guaranteed to be local.
This fact sheet and “Say NO to the Kingstonian PILOT” is sponsored by KingstonCitizens.org, Kingston Tenants Union, Mid-Hudson Valley DSA, Townofulstercitizens.org The Kingston News and De Facto Community Center Project.
READ: The Kingstonain tax-free deal for luxury apartments would pay no school tax
READ: PROMISES WITH NO DATA: The Mayor of Kingston Comments on the Kingstonian PILOT
READ: Kingstonian Zoning Petition Back at Ulster County Planning Board
“On the project being a public/private partnership. We’ve seen a lot of positive economic data put out by the applicant. The negative declaration indicates a deviated PILOT by the UCIDA, meaning that it’s not a standard PILOT under the unified tax exemption policy and we don’t know what it will be. No discussion of the PILOT appears as the economic data released to date. We want transparency here – what the applicant is asking the public to participate in as the project goes forward. The IDA has a matrix, and they are going to propose that the IDA goes outside of the Matrix. In a public/private partnership, you should put everything on the table to fund your garage. The board agreed that it should be included in their comments as it’s in the Neg Dec determination and therefore a part of the SEQR process after discussion.” – Dennis Doyle, Planning Director, Ulster County Planning Board