Dear Members of the Kingston Common Council,
We write regarding the zoning amendment request for the Kingstonian project. The Ulster County Planning Board has reviewed the proposed amendment and has determined that, as presented, it is inconsistent with the City’s zoning and Comprehensive Plan. If the amendment is to be adopted, the County has required changes, particularly the inclusion of affordable housing. We urge the Council to make the changes the County requires. Affordable housing is a critical need in Kingston, and there is no reason that a project receiving substantial public subsidies should escape the responsibility to supply affordable units.
Ulster County and the City of Kingston have an affordable housing crisis, with 55% of residents county-wide spending over 30% of their income on rent. When the City adopted the Mixed Use Overlay District in 2005, it called for 20% affordable units per project. Kingston’s 2025 Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 2016, took the mission city-wide, calling for affordable units in all new residential developments throughout the city. Kingston is the only city in the Mid-Hudson region currently pursuing coverage under New York State’s new rent control laws to rein in its spiraling housing costs.
Applying the City’s affordable housing requirements to the proposed 131-unit Kingstonian project would bring much needed affordable units to Kingston families. In contrast, allowing construction of a luxury housing development with no affordable units would only worsen the housing crisis by further gentrifying Uptown and Kingston overall.
If the Common Council has determined that every developer in the city should provide affordable units at their own expense, then the heavily-subsidized Kingstonian project cannot be excused from providing the same.
The Ulster County Planning Board warned in its letter that “it is disquieting that there is little disclosure of the public investment needed to bring the project to fruition.”
The community is aware of at least $6.8 million in taxpayer-funded grants:
* $3.8 million from Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI);
* $2 million has been granted by the Empire State Development Corp;
* A $1 million Restore NY Grant.
Here’s what our community remains in the dark about:
* The value of tax breaks through the Ulster County IDA, which may excuse the developer from paying sales and mortgage taxes, as well as portions of its city, county and school taxes;
* The value of all municipal real estate that will be contributed to the project, including Fair Street Extension, which will be eliminated, and the city parking lot parcel on North Front Street;
* The municipal parking revenue that will be lost once the public lot is sold.
* The cost of any infrastructure upgrades the City will undertake to accommodate the project.
* Any other public grants, tax credits, or subsidies the Kingstonian is seeking.
Therefore, we make two requests of the Common Council:
1. Do not amend the zoning map without also making the changes to the text of the zoning that the County requires. In particular, clarify that new multi-family housing must include affordable units.
2. Step up to your fiduciary responsibilities and provide the community with a full accounting of the public subsidies expected by the Kingstonian project. Ensure that all decisions requiring Common Council approval, including discretionary approvals and funding awards, have been identified and included in the SEQRA review.
We look forward to your response.
By Rebecca Martin
The Business Alliance of Kingston has taken the time to post the results from the visioning session at Kings Inn last month. There are pictures, explanations and more to what each group created together.
By Rebecca Martin
The City of Kingston just might very well be moving in the right direction.
Below is a CP Fact Sheet that came straight from the planners office and describes what’s going in front of the Council Tuesday night. A helpful tool as you prepare to speak during the public comment session – or just to understand what the steering committee is asking the council for as you follow along.
By Rebecca Martin
An important opportunity has come to light.
On Tuesday, August 3rd at 7:30pm the common council will vote to support (or not) a grant proposal pitched by city planning coordinator Suzanne Cahill through the Financial and Economic Development Committee. The meeting will take place at Kingston’s City Hall at 420 Broadway.
Last Friday’s design charrette that focused on the Kings Inn in Midtown was a fantastic success. Congratulations from all of us at KingstonCitizens.org.
Here is a press update from one of the coordinators of the event Patrice Courtney Strong:
“A very big thank you from the Business Alliance of Kingston for Friday’s excellent design charrette.
The TV coverage was great: HudsonValley YNN
Here are two news articles that appeared:
Another, lengthier one will appear Thursday in the Kingston Times.
We’ll be posting photos of your drawings as soon as possible on our web site.”