RUPCO Purchases Midtown Commercial Property for Community Wealth-building Development

aerial view of The Metro site mapRUPCO completed the next step in bringing community wealth-building to midtown. RUPCO closed on the former MetLife Hall of Records building last week, a 70,000-square-foot underutilized factory/warehouse at 2 South Prospect Street. RUPCO is proposing The Metro, a film & technology hub including Maker Spaces and other creative uses. Community wealth-building focuses on creating jobs while producing materials and value-added products/services within a community, instead of outsourcing those same products and sending hard-earned local dollars out of the region. RUPCO has entered a strategic partnership with Stockade Works, a nonprofit specializing in media attraction, production, and training based in the Hudson Valley and spearheaded by actor-producer Mary Stuart Masterson.

“The opportunity to once again repurpose a fallow, vacant building — this time through a community wealth-building approach to bring a mix of creative uses, all with the purpose of creating local jobs and capturing local wealth — is very exciting. This project is about creating opportunity for everyone,” says Kevin O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer at RUPCO. “The Metro is perhaps the last vacant factory building in Kingston. We’re combing our expertise in rehabilitating and managing old buildings with Stockade Works’ creative vison and drive. This is a new venture for all of us and we are not sure what the final mix of creative uses will be. The goal is to work collaboratively to build and keep the wealth, local. Already, the phone is ringing from Makers and small businesses who want to be a part of the scene at The Metro!”

Stockade Works is dedicated to fostering the further potential of film and technology in the Hudson Valley to increase economic growth and support local communities. As a driver of economic development in the region, Stockade Works attracts outside production and technology startups, connects regional media professionals, and trains the local workforce to create local crew and tech professionals. “Stockade Works is excited to partner with RUPCO to realize our vision for a community media hub to further education and innovation to ready the local workforce for jobs in film, television, and technology,” said Mary Stuart Masterson, Stockade Works Founder and Board President. “Stockade Works is dedicated to fostering the further potential of film and technology in the Hudson Valley to increase economic growth and support local communities. As a driver of economic development in the region, Stockade Works attracts outside production and technology start-ups, connects regional media professionals, and trains the local workforce to create local crew and tech professionals.”

It is our core belief that every individual should have access to fruitful economic opportunities, which includes access to well-paying jobs with avenues for growth. We believe in providing paths of entry to industries that suffer from a lack of diversity in order to transform the faces of entertainment and technology.

The $14-million development will generate a short-term, local economic impact during construction and long-term economic impact through job creation. RUPCO purchased the property with a private mortgage through the Leviticus Fund.

The Metro was named a 2016 “signature priority project” by the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council (MHREDC). Renovation, upgrades, and historic preservation will utilize a variety of funding sources including the federal dollars through New Market Tax Credits (NMTC). The project is also eligible for state and federal historic tax credits; RUPCO nominated the property for both state and federal historic registers. Empire State Development is supporting the development of The Metro with a grant of up to $1 million, which was recommended by the MHREDC in Round VI of the REDC initiative. “The Metro will be home to two of New York’s premier industries – manufacturing and film/TV,” said ESD President, CEO, and Commissioner Howard Zemsky. “This project highlights the strength and success of New York State’s community-based approach to economic development, by recognizing and responding to a growing need in the Mid-Hudson region for exactly this kind of innovative workspace. The Metro will generate local jobs for local residents and Empire State Development is proud to support this project’s growth and success.”

The Metro property includes the warehouse, parking area, and Barmann Park, which will continue serving the local community’s recreational needs. RUPCO honors the name tradition, Metro, a nickname local children have called the Barmann Park area for years. Along with Stockade Works, The Metro’s immediate tenant roll includes private, local enterprises Chronogram and Steintex.

 “My administration fought long and hard to bring the Upstate Film Tax Credit Program to Ulster County, and we have already seen tremendous results with several multi-million dollar films being shot across our county.  We are extremely excited about the future of the film industry in Ulster County and our many partners including Mary Stuart Masterson who is an integral part of this project. By locating Stockade Works at this sight, there is the potential to deliver meaningful high-quality jobs for our community, as well as industry-specific job training,” said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein.

“This is an exciting step forward for RUPCO, Stockade Works and for our community at large,” said City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble. “This building in the heart of Midtown will no longer sit vacant. Instead, it will be bustling with innovation and purpose, empowering our local residents to access training, employment, and entrepreneurship. This isn’t just job creation, it’s community revitalization.”

Survey Teams Canvas Midtown Kingston for Community Impact Measurement Study
Map of area to be surveyed in midtown KingstonCollaborative effort collects resident perspective and photo documentation of neighborhood changes, marking a moment in time for future comparison.
Over the next two weeks, neighborhood youth are capturing a moment in time throughout two Census tracts in midtown Kingston. Local students and residents have been hired to conduct a Community Impact Measurement survey, or CIM, designed to capture the experience of neighborhood residents. The CIM is a collaborative effort among RUPCO, City of Kingston, Family of Woodstock, Midtown Rising and Hone Strategic to scientifically document the neighborhood revitalization taking place in Kingston. The survey will provide valuable input for the City and inform future community and economic development.
“This collaborative approach to gathering community input is an effective way to ensure our local Midtown residents are heard,” says City of Kingston Mayor, Steve Noble. “This survey is an important step towards addressing the needs of our community and measuring the impact of these efforts. I look forward to working with our community partners to review the results of the survey and identify areas of progress and opportunities for change.”
“Over this past week, we trained 20 young people and residents in the survey-taking methodology at the Everett Hodge Center on Franklin Street,” notes Guy Kempe, Vice President of Community Development at RUPCO. “In teams of two, they will take these techniques out to their neighborhoods, engaging City of Kingston residents for their take on what’s happening in Kingston. The confidential survey has 33 questions and will take about five minutes. We hope residents will give these young people from our community
the time they need to collect this valuable data and community perspective.”
“My firm is very pleased to be coordinating these surveys, which will help us support and guide planning and development in Midtown Kingston,” says Jennifer Schwartz Berky, Ulster County Legislator and Principal of Hone Strategic, a Kingston-based urban planning firm.  “Our pro-bono work with the great organizations involved in Midtown is intended to engage many residents and stakeholders in this process. We look forward to helping Kingston plan for an inclusive, thriving future in this beautiful part of the city.”
As an incentive to participate in the survey, residents will receive complimentary tickets to an Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC) film screening. “We’re thankful to UPAC for their generous ticket donations to “The Birds” on October 28 and “A Christmas Story” on December 16,” adds Kempe. “Additionally, all survey participants will be entered into a raffle to win a family 4-pack of tickets to see Masters of Illusion: Believe the Impossible! on October 2.” Surveyors will conduct door-to-door interviews between August 15 and 26 across 17 segmented areas between Clinton, Foxhall, Albany and Greenkill Avenues and Cornell Street. (See map)
“The information that this project will collect is invaluable to our efforts to address fair housing, ensure safe and healthy neighborhoods and keep our focus on what is important to the citizens of Midtown,” says Brenna Robinson, director at the City of Kingston’s Office of Economic & Community Development. “It will greatly inform our upcoming Assessment of Fair Housing Plan to be submitted to the US Department of Housing & Urban Development in 2018 and will help us to continue to allocate our annual Community Development Block Grant Entitlement awards effectively, as well as help the City to be successful in accessing other funding opportunities to support our community development efforts.”
To further document Kingston’s change, the CIM survey is followed by a photo study of the two neighborhoods, documenting buildings, properties, vacant lots and historic structures. “This part of the study holds enormous impact because of the visual comparison made after data collection,” continues Kempe. “A photo is worth a thousand words. When you see where Kingston neighborhoods were two years ago, and the improvement that has happened since our last study, you can’t deny that change is happening here in Kingston. The proof is in the pictures.” For more information on the survey project, contact CIM Team Leader Michaela Sweeney, at (845) 443-1172, 9am to 7pm.
The current Community Impact Measurement survey compliments a baseline CIM conducted in August 2013. Then and now, funding to conduct the residential surveys and photo documentation was provided by NeighborWorks America. Since 2013, RUPCO, the Hudson Valley’s premier developer and operator of affordable housing, has targeted its community development focus on Midtown Kingston with the factory-to-rental-apartments conversion of The Lace Mill on Cornell Street, a successful example of creative placemaking. RUPCO then followed with a proposal to develop a mixed-income, mixed-use newly constructed building, E2: Energy Square at the shuttered Midtown Bowling on the corner of Iwo Jima and Cedar Streets. A third initiative in midtown – to transform the MetLife building on South Prospect Street toward the arts and small, local manufacturing of specialty and entrepreneurial products – furthers RUPCO’s vison for strong vibrant and diverse communities with a home and opportunity for everyone through community wealth building.
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