Coun­cil pon­ders UPAC tax break pro­posal

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ariél Zangla azangla@free­manon­ ArielAtFree­man on Twit­ter

KINGSTON >> City law­mak­ers are con­sid­er­ing throw­ing their sup­port be­hind a re­quest from the op­er­a­tor of the Ul­ster Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter to of­fer tax in­cen­tives to a pri­vate in­vestor in ex­change for fund­ing im­prove­ments at the theater on Broad­way in Mid­town.

Chris Silva, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Bar­davon 1869 Opera House Inc., which runs UPAC, told the Com­mon Coun­cil’s Fi­nance and Au­dit Com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day that the non­profit theater wants to make a $4.7 mil­lion cap­i­tal in­vest­ment to up­grade and re­place the heat­ing, ven­ti­la­tion and air con­di­tion­ing sys­tem and re­pair one of its seven roofs, among other im­prove­ments. He said the theater has $3.3 mil­lion set aside for the project, but is seek­ing a for-profit in­vestor to sup­ply the re­main­ing $1.4 mil­lion.

In ex­change for the fund­ing, the in­vestor would be­come 99 per­cent owner and would be able to ac­cess state and fed­eral his­toric tax cred­its for at least five years as part of a fed­eral pro­gram, Silva said.

“This is how we can com­plete

this job,” Silva said.

He said the in­vestor, who has not yet been se­lected, would have the deed to the UPAC build­ing dur­ing the five-year com­pli­ance pe­riod, which would start as soon as the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion project was com­pleted. Bar­davon would con­tinue to op­er­ate the theater, Silva said.

The in­vest­ment in the theater would al­low UPAC to be open year-round, rather than shut­ting for three months dur­ing the heat of the sum­mer, Silva said. He said it also would take care of other sys­tems at the theater that have been prone to break­ing down, such as the heat­ing in the win­ter months.

“Ev­ery sea­son, some­thing breaks down,” Silva said, adding that the project can­not be done with­out a for­profit in­vestor.

Silva said Bar­davon needs ap­proval from the city, Ul­ster County and the Kingston school dis­trict be­fore it can pro­ceed with its re­quest to the Ul­ster County In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Agency to of­fer an eight-year tax ex­emp­tion to the for-profit in­vestor, which would be known as UPAC LLC. (See story, page A3.) The ex­emp­tion would be­gin as soon as the in­vestor was in place, he said.

Silva pre­vi­ously said Bar­davon al­ready has ap­proval from state and fed­eral of­fi­cials for the plan. He told Com­mon Coun­cil mem­bers that the or­ga­ni­za­tion also has the ap­proval of the Ul­ster County Leg­is­la­ture’s Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee but still is await­ing the ap­proval of the full Leg­is­la­ture. Silva said he plans to meet with the Kingston Board of Ed­u­ca­tion next week.

Kingston Al­der­man Dou­glas Koop, D-Ward 2, said he would not ask his com­mit­tee to im­me­di­ately adopt a res­o­lu­tion in fa­vor of the tax ex­emp­tion be­cause the mem­bers had not yet re­viewed the pro­posed lan­guage. He said the com­mit­tee will vote on the mat­ter at a spe­cial meet­ing at 6 p.m. Nov. 16.

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