Cioni conversion good for Uptown, developer says
Developers representing Grupo Habita are watching closely the Kingston school district’s effort to move administrative offices out of the Cioni Building so the company can move forward with a $1 million offer to buy the Crown Street property and turn it into a 34-room luxury hotel.
Grupo Habita representative Adriana Kertzer said after Wednesday night’s Board of Education meeting that the building could contribute to the revitalization of Uptown Kingston, particularly the Stockade District.
She said the area has “amazing restaurants, amazing bars. People can be tourists during the day and go to vineyards and go to whiskey tastings and go hiking and come back to have a full, amazing night out supporting the local businesses in the area.”
Kertzer said opening a hotel with public amenities would have an immediate impact on tourism in the area.
“The advertising and the booking starts way before it’s actually finished,” she said.
“We want it to be the living room of the community,” she added. “Basically, people know that there is a restaurant and a hangout area. They come and work there on their computer, they come and have meetings, or they have lunch or they have dinner, and it is a seamless interaction between what would traditionally be a lobby of the hotel and the rest of commerce.”
Kertzer said Grupo Habita would maintain the existing facade of the building, which dates to 1841 and used to be an elementary school.
The company “doesn’t design buildings that are standoffish,” she said. “They very much design buildings that open up their doors to the community. We’re hardcore preservationists . ... Anything that would be done would be to add value to a historic building and to make sure that the standard of maintenance is as high as it can possibly be.”
Kingston school district residents voted in 2012 to let the district sell the Cioni Building, which is three stories high, measures 22,680 square feet and sits on 1.25 acres at 61 Crown St. The district has said it would cost about $3 million to upgrade the building to meet the district’s needs.
The district is unlikely to sell the Cioni Building without first having a new home for its offices. The Board of Education currently is studying a possible move to the former Frank L. Meagher Elementary School in Midtown Kingston. The move is expected to be put to a public vote in December.
Board members said the sale of the Cioni Building will be subject to bidding. In October 2014, the board turned down two bids for the property.