Bar­davon boss makes pitch for tax breaks to Ul­ster County In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Agency

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

KINGSTON >> Any pri­vate in­vestor that puts up the $1.4 mil­lion needed to up­grade the Ul­ster Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter should be granted tax breaks, the head of UPAC’s op­er­at­ing com­pany told the Ul­ster County In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Agency board this week.

Bar­davon Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor Chris Silva said UPAC would tem­po­rar­ily be­come a for-profit busi­ness as part of the plan to com­plete ren­o­va­tions, mean­ing it would be sub­ject to taxes.

The Pough­keep­siebased Bar­davon 1869 Opera House has man­aged UPAC, a 1,500-seat theater on Broad­way in Mid­town Kingston, for the past decade. The planned up­grades at UPAC in­clude heat­ing and air con­di­tion­ing im­prove­ments and ex­pand­ing the lobby and re­strooms, Silva said.

“The heat­ing, ven­ti­la­tion and air con­di­tion sys­tem ... is 50 years old and far past its use­ful life,” he said.

“We have to close in the sum­mer,” he added. “We can’t be open July, Au­gust, Septem­ber be­cause the [air con­di­tion­ing] sys­tem is so un­re­li­able. Like­wise heat­ing. We lost heat­ing in the mid­dle of the ‘Nutcracker’ and other in­stances. It’s pre­car­i­ous at best.”

And “the re­stroom fa­cil­i­ties are a joke,” Silva said. “There’s three uni­sex toi­lets and one sink for 1,000 pa­trons on the first floor.”

Silva said the en­tire project will cost an es­ti­mated $4.7 mil­lion. The com­pany has $3.3 mil­lion and needs an­other $1.4 mil­lion.

The Bar­davon plans to es­tab­lish a for-profit en­tity to al­low an in­vestor to get tax cred­its as part of a pay­ment-in-lieu-of­taxes, or PI­LOT, agree­ment that would al­low a re­turn on the $1.4 mil­lion.

“This would be a de­vi­a­tion off of our nor­mal ... pol­icy,” In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Agency board Chair­man Michael Horodyski said Wed­nes­day. “It’s re­ally an eightyear, zero per­cent PI­LOT. That’s not some­thing that we cur­rently have in our es­tab­lished uni­form tax-ex­emp­tion pol­icy.”

Horodyski said the ex­is­tence of the planned for-profit busi­ness dur­ing the ren­o­va­tion means the PI­LOT would re­quire sup­port from the tax­ing en­ti­ties, which in this case would be the city of Kingston, Ul­ster County and the Kingston school dis­trict.

“I’ve be­gun that process,” Silva said. “I’ve seen the county and the city, I’ve spo­ken to the school board. I’m deep into it.”

Agency board mem­bers agreed they would sched­uled a pub­lic hear­ing on the re­quest for tax breaks, but they did not com­mit to a date.

Silva noted the In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Agency, in ex­change for grant­ing the tax breaks, would charge a fee equal to 1 per­cent of the project’s es­ti­mated cost. He said city of­fi­cials have asked whether that money could be used to in­vest in pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties.

“If there was any way for the IDA to in­vest a por­tion of the 1 per­cent back into the project, that I know would go a long way in sat­is­fy­ing what the city’s ask­ing for,” he said.

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