RUPCO petitions for Alms House rezoning
Affordable housing agency RUPCO has asked the Common Council to authorize a zoning change that would allow housing for the homeless and senior citizens in the former Alms House at 300 Flatbush Ave., which most recently housed Ulster County offices.
RUPCO is seeking the zoning change to help clear the way for a renovation project that would create 66 units of permanent housing.
The parcel, at Flatbush Avenue and East Chester Street Bypass, is currently zoned for single-family residential use. For the pro-
posed project to proceed, the property must have a multifamily zoning designation.
“The purposes of this petition is to extend and conform the adjacent R-6 (multifamily) district to all of subject premises which will comprise the redevelopment by [RUPCO],” the request states. “In this regard, multifamily housing is a recognized use within the immediate vicinity of the project, and changing the zoning of the parcel will appropriately acknowledge the pattern of current development within the city of Kingston.”
The Common Council’s Laws and Rules Committee is expected to take up the zoning request when it meets at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 in City Hall, 420 Broadway.
City Planner Suzanne Cahill said Thursday that RUPCO also has submitted its project plans to her office. The Planning Board will begin its review of the Alms House project when it meets at 6 p.m. Nov. 14 in City Hall.
Cahill said the Laws and Rules Committee is required to have a public hearing on the requested zoning change. But before the full council can decide on the matter, the Planning Board must decide whether the project will have any significant environmental impact.
Cahill said the project also must be review by the Ulster County Planning Board and Kingston’s Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Mayor Steve Noble stopped short of taking a position on the requested zoning change.
“I think that it’s appropriate to consider this request as it is relevant to any future development at that property, including RUPCO’s proposed housing project,” Noble said in an email. “In order for that property to be used for any sort of housing, a zoning change from single-family to multifamily will be required. Therefore, it is prudent for the council to review the current zoning.”
RUPCO has said the plan is “in keeping with Governor [Andrew] Cuomo’s call this year to construct 1,200 units of supportive housing for the homeless across the state.”
The agency is expected to but the site for $950,000 from the Ulster County Economic Development Alliance.
RUPCO expects to repurpose the existing structure, which was built in 1874, so it can accommodate 34 units of single, residential apartments. The proposal also includes new construction of 32 apartments for people ages 55 and older.
“Thirty-five of the apartments will offer support services to a mix of homeless populations with special needs, including veterans and frail or disabled seniors,” RUPCO said in a press release.
As part of the new construction, the 32 apartments for seniors 55 and older would include seven apartments designated specifically as permanent residences for those who currently are homeless.
The project would be financed through a mix of sources; rents for the homeless would be shared by the state and Ulster County.
Originally constructed as a solution for care of the city’s poor, the Alms House later served as a tuberculosis ward in the 1950s and more recently housed the county Department of Health and other offices.
“People who were left behind by society at the time of its construction were housed here as a ‘poor house’; later it was a hospital ward for those suffering from tuberculosis,” Kevin O’Connor, who is RUPCO’s president and chief executive officer, has said. “Today, the goal is to provide the dignity of a home to everyone. That’s what we’re going to do here.”
Joseph Eriole, RUPCO’s vice president for real estate development, agreed.
The Alms House “reflected the community value that care of vulnerable populations was a civic duty,” Eriole said in an email Thursday. “And, looking forward, the proposed zoning change opens the door to realizing one of the important goals of the recently adopted City of Kingston Comprehensive Plan, which recognizes that: ‘Housing choices for residents of all incomes should be provided throughout the city, and limited multifamily is appropriate in all areas.’
“The rezoning allows the historic narrative of this great asset to continue, while allowing for new construction as well,” Eriole added.
The RUPCO press release noted Ulster County has just 27 shelter beds for homeless families.
“Between January and April 2016, the monthly average number of homeless people in Ulster County was 160,” RUPCO said. “When Ulster County’s 27 shelter beds are full, the remaining homeless are placed in motels, where the average length of stay is 85 days at costs of $65 to $91 per day.”
The 14.9-acre Alms House site includes the 23,000-square-foot main building, for which a historic landmark designation is being sought, and three smaller storage and heating and cooling buildings.
The housing campus could generate 10 to 12 new jobs, including a case manager, a nurse, 24-hour security, an on-site superintendent, a property manager and maintenance support, according to RUPCO.
RUPCO is proposing to convert the former Alms House at 300 Flatbush Ave. in Kingston, an 1874 structure that most recently housed Ulster County offices, into housing for senior citizens and the homeless.