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