Cioni con­ver­sion good for Up­town, de­vel­oper says

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­line.com

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.

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