A proposed mixed-use development in uptown Kingston is adding affordable housing. It follows community pleas and more than a year of talks among the developer, mayor and state officials.
The Kingstonian’s developer will foot the bill for the addition of affordable housing, with no outside subsidies, 14 units worth. Joseph Bonura Jr. is with JM Development Group.
“We’ve been listening to the community for the past year, year and a half, and affordable housing has become more and more of an important issue to the community,” Bonura says. “And we’re just very excited that we’re able to figure out a way to work with the City of Kingston to fit and expand the project to fit those 14 affordable units in.”
Kingston Mayor Steve Noble says the affordable housing would include studio and one-bedroom apartments.
“We’re really excited to be able to announce this. It’s been a year-and-a-half worth of work working with all of our state officials and the development team to be able to put together this package,” says Noble. “They’ve agreed to build the building bigger so that we can make sure that we can fit these apartments in it. And it’s just, it’s a critical need in Kingston. I’m happy that they’re meeting that need.”
In announcing the affordable housing addition, Noble asked the common council to consider the following:
“To have a mandate for 10 percent affordable housing citywide on all new projects,” Noble says. “They’re going to be the first voluntary test case of that, and I think for us going forward it’s really what should be the law in Kingston.”
He is confident the council will take up such a measure. Noble says there currently is no citywide requirement for inclusion of 10 percent affordable housing in new construction over six units. Fellow Democrat Jeffrey Morrell of the first ward supports the affordable housing addition, saying the project could be a model for Ulster County.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction, if anything,” Morrell says. “And I think it shows good faith on the developer’s part that they’re willing to take the input from the community into account and modify their plans accordingly.”
And, in general, he supports the mayor’s call for related legislation.
“Yes. I would have to look at the legislation itself but, on the face of it, yes, I’m in favor of it,” says Morrell.
The proposal from JM Development Group, in partnership with Herzog Supply Company, is for a $52 million mixed-used development on 2.5 acres on the corner of Fair and North Front Streets, in Kingston’s Stockade District. Plans include retail and restaurant space, apartments and a hotel, as well as a 420-space parking garage, plaza, and pedestrian bridge that will connect to the Kingston Plaza over Schwenk Drive. Bonura says the affordable housing piece adds nearly $3 million to the cost of the development.
“That’s almost around $200,000 per unit to build, so 14 times 2, $2.8 million, plus the added elevator stop and stairs, and yeah, about $3 million bucks,” says Bonura.
He says there is no grant program for a mixed use building, meaning part affordable and part market-rate housing, but acknowledges the need for affordable housing.
“There’s a need for more and more and more, but there’s only so much that we can bear costs privately,” says Bonura. “If it was funded differently, there would be a different amount available but, right now, we have to eat that difference, and we’re paying it out of our pocket personally, and it’s, any more would make the project impossible.”
Bonura says he and stakeholders had been trying to come up with a solution for the past year-and-a-half.
“As you go through a project’s approval phases, certain things become more and more important. And we were really focused on getting the architecture right, the look and the feel of the building right. We always knew affordable housing was extremely important but you can’t solve everything at one time,” says Bonura. “So once we felt like, okay, we’ve got the building in a position that looks good, now let’s really try to find a way to nail this down.”
The affordable housing increases the residential unit count in the proposed Kingstonian to 143.