RUPCO pe­ti­tions for Alms House re­zon­ing

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Paul Kirby pkirby@free­manon­line.com paulat­free­man on Twit­ter

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.

FILE PHOTO BY TONY ADAMIS

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.

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