Board will weigh in on Alms House request
City planners are expected to make a recommendation this month about RUPCO's rezoning application.
The city Planning Board is likely to make a recommendation at its December meeting about a zoning change needed to convert the former Alms House on Flatbush Avenue into an apartment building for the homeless and senior citizens.
The zoning change has been requested by affordable housing agency RUPCO and ultimately must be approved by the Kingston Common Council in order to take effect.
Planning Board Chairman Wayne Platte said his board is likely to weigh in on the matter at its Dec. 12 meeting, scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in City Hall, 420 Broadway.
“We intend to make a recommendation at that meeting,” he said.
The same meeting is to include a review of the Irish Cultural Center proposed for the city’s Rondout district.
The Alms House property, at 300 Flatbush Ave., near East Chester Street, currently is zoned for single-family residential use. RUPCO is seeking a change to multifamily residential. The agency wants to establish 66 apartments in the building, 32 of which would be for people age 55 or older.
The building currently is vacant, having most recently housed Ulster County offices.
The Common Council’s Laws and Rules Committee already has taken the procedural step of referring the rezoning request to the Planning Board, the city’s Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Ulster County Planning Board. All three will make recommendations to the Laws and Rules Committee, and the committee expects to hold a public hearing on the request on Jan. 17, according to Alderwoman Lynn Eckert, D-Ward 1, who chairs the committee.
Kingston Mayor Steve Noble has not taken a position on the requested zoning change. He has commented only the process being undertaken.
“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 previously. “In order for that property to be used for any sort of housing, a zoning change from singlefamily to multifamily will be required. Therefore, it is prudent for the council to review the current zoning.”
Opponents of the project say, among other things, that Kingston is saturated with affordable housing and needs no more. They have suggested that other municipalities step up to provide such housing.
Kingston real estate agent Karen Vetere, who has opposed such ventures in the past, has said the Alms House property could be used for a better purpose.
“There’s a better thing for that building if we sit and wait,” Vetere, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2003, told city lawmakers previously.
She has said the building could be turned into a boutique hotel or regular apartments, rather than low-income housing.
Desiree Crespino-Rossi, who has lived near the Alms House for more than 50 years, would like the neighborhood to remain family-oriented. She noted there already are three low-income housing complexes along Flatbush Avenue and asked why the area frequently is subject to such nontaxable operations.
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.”
If the plan is approved, the affordable housing agency would buy the Alms House from the Ulster County Economic Development Alliance for $950,000.
The project would be financed through a mix of sources, and rents for the homeless would be shared by the state and Ulster County.
Built in 1874 for the city’s poor, the Alms House later served as a tuberculosis ward in the 1950s and more recently housed the Ulster County Department of Health and other county offices.
The former Alms House, at 300 Flatbush Ave. in Kingston, is shown Wednesday.