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Ulster County Exec Announces Next Steps In Housing Project At Former Jail Site

Rendering of planned neighborhood at former jail site in Kingston
Courtesy of Ulster County government
Rendering of planned neighborhood at former jail site in Kingston

A housing project in Ulster County, New York is moving forward with the selection of a development team and release of preliminary designs. Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan talked about the project during his COVID-19 briefing Thursday.

The Ulster County Housing Development Corporation Thursday released preliminary designs for a new neighborhood on the site of the former county jail, which has sat unused for more than a decade. Democratic Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan says the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated an existing housing crisis, and he and his team have been working to ramp up efforts to add housing inventory, especially for lower-income residents, and by repurposing county property.

“Especially for those frontline workers that have been putting their lives at risk for us, they absolutely must be able to afford to live in a decent place here in the county that they have been working in and taking risks to protect,” Ryan says. “Them along with especially our seniors are those most affected by the housing crisis. And so that’s really what we’ve been focusing on addressing in terms of our housing efforts.”

The Ulster County Housing Development Corporation, which formed over the summer, has selected Philadelphia-based Pennrose to design, build and manage the project atop Golden Hill in Kingston.

“Really, a beautiful location with epic views of the Catskills at an elevation; it’s right next to and will be, will have a connection to the Empire State Trail,” says Ryan. “It’s accessible to our UCAT public transit system.”

The plan calls for 80 units of senior housing and 80 units of workforce housing that are affordable at a range of 30 percent-to-130 percent of area median income.

“In addition to the housing, there will be a 5,000 square-foot community building, which can be used not just by the residents but also by the broader community to deliver important programming, for meetings, for other community needs, so that will be fantastic,” Ryan says. “And then, one of the most exciting things from the developer that we’re going forward with is they’re very committed  and have a proven record on green building technology and green building approaches, so this will be  showcase project to show how we’re implementing our Green New Deal in the county. As we make these major investments, we have to build them in a way that uses the right building materials, that will be net-zero, that will use renewable generation, electric and other new technologies to reduce emissions.”

Pennrose plans to work with Family of Woodstock and other local community organizations to provide supportive services to residents on Golden Hill. Pennrose is currently redeveloping an aging 300-unit housing complex in Schenectady, a project called Yates Village.

The Ulster County Housing Development Corporation will negotiate an agreement to define the terms of the development process and include an option to purchase the site once site plans are finalized and funding is secured. A public engagement process to evaluate community needs and preferences and develop a final design will begin early next year. The process will include environmental reviews and evaluation of traffic patterns and needs around the Golden Hill site. The developer will be responsible for demolishing the old jail. Construction is projected to begin in 2022, with leasing and occupancy in late 2023.

Separately, Ryan says voting went smoothly in the county.

“But I’m very proud and appreciative that we had a respectful, safe, healthy and effective voting process,” says Ryan. “The early numbers show that we had record-setting turnout and participation, which is fantastic.”

During early voting, the Ulster County Democratic Committee filed suit against the Ulster County Board of Elections to increase the hours and locations of early voting, and was met with a decision to expand hours the final weekend of early voting.

“I want to reassure everyone also that we are absolutely still committed and doing the work to count every single vote of every single person who made their voice heard in our democracy, and I encourage that not just here in the county but, of course, across the country, as that work is happening,” Ryan says.

Absentee ballots can be received up to November 10th.

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