Applications are Open. The deadline is Friday, July 16. Applications can be downloaded and printed copies are available for pick up at RUPCO’s office 289 Fair St., Kingston, NY 12401.
RUPCO’s Vice President of Community Development Guy Kempe has been elected as Hudson Valley Representative on the board of directors of NYS Rural Housing Coalition. The NYS Rural Housing Coalition, Inc. is a network of rural housing professionals who work toward a common goal: to design, develop, finance, build and manage affordable housing to meet the diverse needs of rural New Yorkers Members share their knowledge and expertise to attain this goal.
Mr. Kempe completed his undergraduate education at Bard College, attended graduate level courses at the Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies at Oxford University, and began an MFA at the Milton Avery Graduate School of Arts. Guy has been VP of Community Development since March of 2012 and oversees a staff of three and a current development pipeline worth $100million.
For nearly 40 years, the Rural Housing Coalition has brought together affordable housing professionals who work to address the affordable housing crisis, to promote healthy homes and to create vibrant local economies in rural parts of New York. “It’s a pleasure for me to join the board in this important work.”
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas today announced the opening of a $15 million scattered-site project that renovated 15 abandoned properties to create 45 new affordable apartments in a four-block area of Newburgh’s East End. Called East End Apartments, the development is helping to revitalize this historic neighborhood while preserving its character.
Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “East End Apartments has taken abandoned properties and brought them back to life as affordable homes for dozens of residents that will breathe new energy into Newburgh’s historic East End neighborhood. With supportive services for homeless youth and veterans, and apartments and space set aside for artists, East End apartments will continue to move Newburgh forward while strengthening the safety net for all of its residents.”
East End Apartments were rehabilitated by Kingston-based developer RUPCO, which is maintaining ownership with Safe Harbors of the Hudson serving as property manager. Among the development’s 45 homes are seven apartments set aside for homeless youth ages 18 to 25 and homeless veterans. Bridges of New York will coordinate their support services. Another 12 apartments will be targeted to tenants involved in artistic or literary endeavors.
Kevin O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer, RUPCO, said, “We are thrilled to be a part of the core revitalization that is going on in Newburgh that involves the public, private and non-profit sectors. Newburgh is on the rise and our contribution that is restoring the fabric of this historic district and providing housing to stem the tide of gentrification is crucial. We value our partnership with HCR and many local entities that makes this work possible.”
The homes were preserved with sensitivity to the historic character of the neighborhood. All fifteen properties will meet NYS’s EnergyStar for Homes energy efficient standards and will receive a LEED for Homes designation.
The 15 renovated buildings include homes located on Lander, South Miller, First, Johnston and DuBois Streets. The neighborhood is immediately adjacent to the City of Newburgh’s Broadway business and government corridor. The neighborhood is also next to SUNY Orange’s Newburgh Campus and Mount Saint Mary College, as well as the regional St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital.
The multi-site development also includes 3,000 square feet of community space known as “The Hub.” This multi-purpose area at 39B Johnston Street will host a community policing sub-station, studio/gallery space for artists, and meeting space for after-school activities. The Hub is dedicated in honor of former City of Newburgh Mayor Judy Kennedy.
New York State Homes and Community Renewal provided federal low income housing credits that generated $9.9 million in equity. The NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation provided federal and state historic tax credits, and the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance are providing funding for the support services and rental subsidy through the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative. Orange County provided $320,000 in HOME funds. The City of Newburgh provided $140,000. Additional financing partners include Community Preservation Corporation, Raymond James, and Sterling National Bank.
Coppola Associates and the general contractor is Affordable Housing Concepts. The 15 renovated properties were previously owned by the Newburgh Community Land Bank.
NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Samuel D. Roberts said, “We are pleased to be playing a role in this project, ensuring veterans and youth experiencing homelessness not only have a place to live, but access to the services necessary to help them remain stably housed. This project has the added bonus of helping to revitalize a historic neighborhood which will benefit so many other Newburgh residents.”
Daniel Mackay, Deputy Commissioner, NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said, “Historic Tax Credits help to restore the assets from the past to create a pathway to the future. The investment in Newburgh is extraordinary and has created a new model to rethink how we reknit the fabric of New York’s historic communities.”
Senator Bill Larkin said, “This public private partnership will greatly build on the community development efforts taking place in the City of Newburgh. I was proud to support this collaborative effort which creates an adaptive re-use for abandoned properties, while working to promote economic development that has the potential to lower the tax burden for residents and businesses. The State, the City of Newburgh and local stakeholders must continue to work together on these types of projects moving forward.”
Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus said, “This important revitalization project will reinvigorate this historic Newburgh neighborhood. It serves as an example of what is possible when Government and the private sector work together to benefit our community. I’m excited that our residents will be able to call the East End Apartments home.”
Darryl Seavey, VP Director of Acquisitions Northeast Region for Raymond James Tax Credit Funds, Inc. said, “Raymond James is thrilled to have once again partnered with RUPCO for their Newburgh CORe Neighborhood Revitalization project. Kevin O’Conner and the team at RUPCO have managed to bring new life and vitality to a blighted neighborhood by significantly upgrading and modernizing its existing housing stock while at the same time preserving residential structures that are historically important to the City of Newburgh. This project adheres to RUPCO’s core philosophy of creating homes, supporting people and improving communities. We congratulate RUPCO on furthering their mission with another successful project. We would especially like to thank Sterling National Bank and CPC whom worked with Raymond James on the project financing and equity and have once again been terrific partners.”
Madeline Fletcher, Executive Director, Newburgh Community Land Bank, said, “This project has not only helped to stabilize a high vacancy neighborhood, but has raised the standard of what’s possible at the intersection of historic preservation and local housing needs. It has paved the way for new creative and equitable opportunities for homeownership, placemaking and neighborhood revitalization.”
Karen Milazzo, State Executive Director, Bridges of New York, said, “Having the opportunity to work with Special Populations continues to prove to be an amazing experience for Bridges of New York. The young adults who have been placed into these homes are now provided with the opportunity to not only stabilize in their lives, but with the assistance and encouragement of the case manager, they can now take on new and exciting challenges that they would not have realized on their own. Learning to be responsible, productive adults, raising young children in a safe environment, and living with gratitude are wonderful life experiences they now share. Our veterans value the support they receive in the Newburgh community and are proud to be a part of this new and vital neighborhood. We are grateful to be a part of these revitalizing efforts and will continue to place our best efforts to bring new life and energy into the Newburgh neighborhoods.”
Lisa Silverstone, Executive Director, Safe Harbors of the Hudson, said, “The East End Apartments have breathed new life into our downtown neighborhoods, lovingly restoring historic buildings to create beautiful housing for our neighbors and vibrancy on our streets. Safe Harbors of the Hudson is thrilled to be providing the management for this critical redevelopment project!”
K. James Dittbrenner, Senior Vice-President & Managing Director, Sterling National Bank, said, “Newburgh, the once ‘All American City’ deserves its Renaissance. The RUPCO- Newburgh Revitalization East End project is a substantial part of growing success toward Newburgh’s Renaissance and Sterling National Bank is proud to have supported this amazing rehabilitation project.”
Every year at Community Lunch, RUPCO honors a community partner doing great work in our neighborhoods. This year, we honored Madeline Fletcher, Executive Director at Newburgh Community Land Bank for her collaborative spirit in transforming Newburgh’s historic East End. Her ability to gather partners and facilitate change has been transformative.
National preservation societies recognize The Lace Mill’s use of Historic Tax Credits to help revitalize the City of Kingston.
From an accomplished list of Historic Preservation Projects carried out across the United States, RUPCO’s Lace Mill has been identified as one of six historic preservation projects recognized as one of “Preservation’s Best of 2016.”
This award, granted by Preservation Action, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Trust Community Investment Corporation, brings attention to RUPCO’s success in using the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit to transform The Lace Mill, a historically significant building that was underutilized with boarded windows and turning it into a viable community asset for the 21st century. The awards are intended to bring attention to the success of the Historic Tax Credit as a driver of economic development across the country. The awards will be handed out at the Preservation’s Best Congressional Reception to be held on March 15 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. Members of the Congressional Historic Preservation Caucus as well as Preservation Action members, partners and preservationists from across the nation are expected to be in attendance.
“Preservation Action is very pleased to host this reception and recognize these exemplary historic rehabilitation projects. At a time when the future of the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit is uncertain, projects like The Lace Mill in Kingston, NY help to highlight the benefits of the program,” said Robert Naylor from Preservation Action.
“We are pleased to be singled out with just a handful of projects from around the nation as a truly transformative project that adaptively restored a historic gem into a great community asset – one that is now key to the creative placemaking magic that is occurring in midtown Kinston,” said Kevin O’Connor, RUPCO’s Chief Executive Officer. “We saw early on the potential of this boarded-up building to meet one of Kingston’s varied community needs and we are thrilled with the results.”
“Having studied architecture and urban planning, I knew at the outset, that the project would make a difference in the neighborhood,” notes Scott Dutton, the project’s architect. “However, what I completely underestimated is how much of a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization this project would become and how quickly that would happen. The number of people that have told us that they made the decision to either purchase property or establish their businesses/residences in Midtown because of what they saw happening at the Lace Mills Lofts continues to astound me.”
Preservation Action has been hosting National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week for over 30 years. By honoring exemplary rehabilitation projects, its annual reception helps to highlight the benefits of the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit. The HTC is the largest federal investment in historic preservation, responsible for redeveloping over 40,000 buildings, and contributing to the revitalization of cities and towns across the country. The Lace Mill investment was $18.7 million and fully one-third of the costs were paid for by private sector purchase of the Federal and New York State Historic Tax Credits. Morgan Stanley served as the investor.
RuthAnne Visnauskas, Commissioner of New York State Homes and Community Renewal, said, “HCR is proud to be part of this impressive and critically important development. The Lace Mill is once again an anchor to midtown Kingston. The preservation of this historic building will contribute to a more economically vibrant community and will provide safe, affordable housing for local artists. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, HCR will continue to invest in the adaptive reuse of vacant, historic buildings so that we can revitalize our neighborhoods while preserving our most significant buildings.”
RUPCO is an affordable housing advocate and innovative community developer in the Hudson Valley, is a charter member of NeighborWorks America, a national network of 245 housing and community development change agents. RUPCO affects the lives of over 8,000 people through its work with homelessness, rental assistance, foreclosure prevention, first-time homebuyers, home rehabilitation and energy efficiency and real estate development. RUPCO is currently working on $75-million worth of real estate development in the Hudson Valley, including Energy Square, Landmark Place, and The Metro in Kingston and the Newburgh Neighborhood CORe Revitalization. For more information, visit www.rupco.org
Preservation Action is a 501(c) 4 nonprofit organization created in 1974 to serve as the national grassroots lobby for historic preservation. Preservation Action seeks to make historic preservation a national priority by advocating to all branches of the federal government for sound preservation policy and programs through a grassroots constituency empowered with information and training and through direct contact with elected representatives.
The Daily Freeman recently published an article about The Kirkland. We feel it helpful for you to have all the facts and access to our original responses which we forwarded to reporter Paul Kirby last Tuesday. We feel the real story about The Kirkland is our delivery of jobs, taxes, community space, and synergistic influences percolating inside one of Kingston’s historic gems. The larger story, of course, is how this small project jumpstarted a transformation that began Uptown and is now seeing it’s way to Midtown.
“It’s been 8 years since we completed the building” notes Kevin O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer. “The rental units and the office space have been rented since Day One but as we all know, the market downturned in 2008. That’s the main reason a restaurant didn’t take hold at The Kirkland. In addition, the capital expense to outfit a commercial-grade kitchen and restaurant fit-up required a new tenant investment of $100k-$200k beyond our investment and that proved problematic. We started marketing the property in 2005 and showed it to several restaurateurs we even used commercial brokers but had no takers. At the time, the location was a little off the beaten path, parking limited, and many opportunities with established commercial kitchens already existed.
“When we started this project, we promised and delivered mixed use space. We cobbled together 17 different funding sources to complete the project including a $1.5M mortgage from Key Bank that RUPCO is paying. In 2010, when we converted our community space at the Stuyvesant, we invested more money to outfit The Kirkland’s Senate Room as new community space. Since 2008, RUPCO has grown from 28 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) to 65 FTE jobs, including 13 FTEs employees who now work at The Kirkland. Indeed, we’ve created more good paying jobs with benefits than what a restaurant would have delivered.” The Kirkland headquarters RUPCO’s Green Jobs | Green New York Program (GJGNY), a homeowner program designed to improve home energy efficiency through energy audits, weatherization and solar installations. GJGNY leads New York State in homeowner education, energy audits and retrofits, channeling over $5.3-million into the Hudson Valley economy; the program also saves homeowners money on their utility bills.
Originally built in 1899, the Kirkland Hotel fell into disrepair and remained derelict for over 30 years, a blight at uptown Kingston’s entryway. “We helped preserve history and put the 19th-century landmark doomed for demolition back on the tax rolls,” says O’Connor. “ Last year RUPCO paid over $55,000 in school, city and county taxes. Since we took ownership in 2005 and restored this building to its original grandeur – rebuilding the original domed cupola, installing an original wrap-around porch, improving the neighborhood – we’ve paid over $573,000 in taxes.” Winner of Best Historic Preservation Award from Friends of Historic Kingston, The Kirkland remains the gateway icon to Kingston’s Historic Stockade District.
“We hold homebuyer education classes in the Senate Room, which enabled 81 people achieve their dream of homeownership last year,” continues O’Connor. “Another 300 Housing Choice Voucher Program recipients learned about how the program works and what it takes to be good tenant. We also invested $58,000 this past fall, hiring local contractors to rehab and paint the exterior to keep it looking top notch this fall. This building has provided value to Kingston for over 100 years; we continue to do the same into the next 100.” The Kirkland is also home to eight mixed-income rental apartments providing much needed rental housing uptown.
Circle of Friends for the Dying, Ulster County Continuum of Care, twelve-step groups, Friends of Historic Kingston and O+ Festival hold monthly meetings, annual gatherings and diversity workshops here. “Once the central site the Kingston Clinic, Healthcare is a Human Right used the first floor for many years until they switched locations to The Lace Mill to meet the community demand there,” says O’Connor. “Women’s Studio Workshop and Kingston High School art students, NYC-based Center for the Study of White American Culture, Hudson Valley Tech Meet Up and local citizens have also used the space for their events. The Kirkland has consistently met the needs of our neighbors and we’re proud to adapt in ways that benefit our community as times change.”
RUPCO most recently invested in a high-tech audio/visual configuration to answer the community’s call for meeting presentation capabilities. “We continue to reinvest in the building,” says O’Connor. “We are good stewards, pay big taxes and create a large number of jobs! The Kirkland is just one spark to the economic fuel that is driving community wealth building in the Hudson Valley.”
Note: Also misreported in this article were Energy Square facts as well. As of today, possible tenants for the commercial space include Center for Creative Education and Hudson Valley Tech Meet-up; while we would have loved for them to join us on Cedar Street, Ulster County Community Action is not a potential tenant for this space.
RUPCO recently received a sizable award from the Empire State Development Grant Program (ESD) through the New York State Consolidated Funding Application (CFA). In early December, RUPCO received notification of a $1-million award for its Priority Status community development proposal to be called “The Metro,” located at 2 South Prospect Street, Kingston, which the Regional Economic Development Council named a “Priority Project.”
“We’re so excited to be a part of the change happening in Kingston,” notes Guy Kempe, Vice President of Community Development at RUPCO. “This CFA round was highly competitive. We’ll direct these funds for acquisition of the property we’ve held on option since August 2016. Overall, we stand amidst a solid CFA tidal wave of funding for the City of Kingston where the city, Ulster County and 4 other organizations won 11 awards amounting to $5.3 million.”
This funding comes on the heels of Governor Cuomo signing into law the New York State Film Tax Credit Program, extending a 40% tax credit to television and film studios working in Ulster County. “These tax credits can now be applied to expenses “below the line” of TV-film budgets where most salaries are accounted for. This tax credit is huge to producers and their budgets but monstrous to Ulster County and City of Kingston,” notes Kevin O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer at RUPCO. “We’re grateful to Ulster County Executive Mike Hein for his work behind the scenes to get this credit extended to Ulster County. With the County’s support and our partnership with Stockade Works, RUPCO will supply the location for TV-film production studios, a post-production & training center plus several Makers’ Spaces for local artisans and light manufacturers. Stockade Works, a nonprofit TV/film production company lead by director-actress Mary Stuart Masterson, will bring new training opportunities and TV-film industry work to the area.” The New York State Film Tax Credit Program, available in all 62 counties, is designed to increase film production and post-production industry activity and secondary economic impact. In 2014, to further incentivize film/TV production outside of New York City, state officials increased the fully refundable tax credit to 40% for shows and films with budgets over $500,000 that are made in 40 upstate counties.
According to a recent press release, StockadeWorks “will provide a co-working environment for industry professionals in the Hudson Valley looking to connect with their colleagues. The space will accommodate outside productions looking to find a film-friendly location. With hot desks, a conference room, event space, production offices, soundstage, picture/visual effects/sound editing suites, 100-seat state-of-the-art screening room, and film/tech-oriented maker space, the project will connect local talent, attract outside production, and provide a training ground with hands-on access to industry professionals. The studio will produce everything from TV shows to mobile apps and podcasts, and host program classes, workshops, screenings, local food and moth-style spoken word events.”
“It’s not just about new jobs in TV and film; it’s about the ancillary economic boost that the TV-film industry brings with it. It brings new people to the area, who visit and then maybe move here permanently,” says O’Connor. “This multiplier effect — the impact of one dollar recirculated among our area’s small businesses like delis, gas stations, Main Street eateries and hotels – benefits our local economy in new ways. Introducing new business opportunity — we call it Community Wealth Building — fortifies our communities by creating what we consume here, keeping local dollars local. Introducing TV-film studio space within an easy commute to New York City is the right thing at the right time. Studios on Long Island and in the City are booked well into 2020. This new creative industry is the economic boost we’ve been waiting for, to restore density to our City center and people to frequent local businesses.”
Adjacent to the local baseball field, the 70,000-square-foot MetLife building will be renamed The Metro. In addition to the TV-film amenities, The Metro will include a number of makers’ spaces for light industrial use. “This effort at The Metro is about creative placemaking, transforming midtown Kingston, improving community where people want to live, work, play, thrive, hang out,” adds O’Connor. “The Metro anchors the transformation that started at the Brush Factory and the arts-based businesses within Midtown. It expanded to The Lace Mill at the far end of Cornell Street and gained legs with the City’s Midtown Arts District. We’re poised to add new construction of mixed-income, mixed-use space at E2: Energy Square at the corner of Cedar and Iwo Jima to provide a home for Center for Creative Education, Hudson Valley Tech Meet Up and 57 families. The Metro extends this transformation to the other end of Midtown, solidifying Kingston’s creative juice throughout the City.”
“We’ve still got our work cut out for us, raising capital to secure historic tax credits and new market tax credits to preserve and renovate The Metro,” adds Kempe. “But we’re confident in the momentum generated by, and support of, the City of Kingston and Mayor Steve Noble, Ulster County and Executive Mike Hein, and area residents who stand ready for pivotal change in Midtown.” Projected improvements include historic preservation in conformance with the standards set by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior standards, such is restoring the building façade to original architectural plans. Site development will include landscaping and roofing upgrades; energy-efficiency improvements such as a new geo-thermal heating and cooling system; and an interior sub-division of rental spaces. The building lends itself to the maker’s space model: a single-story building with loading bays, easy access, parking and loading capacity, and high-ceilinged spaces ideal for sound stage or light manufacturing uses. Capitalization of these improvements is projected at $11.5-million. RUPCO and StockadeWorks will apply to a combination of resources such as private investors, private mortgage, New Market Tax Credits, Historic Tax Credits, Environmental Protection Fund and ESD funding. The project currently enjoys a “Priority Status” from the Regional Economic Development Council which positions the project favorably to access further state economic development sources.
This project is included in Kingston’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) drafted to promote the redevelopment of vacant and distressed properties in midtown, as well as the removal of blight and impediments to revitalization. The adaptive reuse of the MetLife Building was identified as a signature project for DRI funding by The mid-Hudson Regional Council. This initiative will remove neighborhood blight, preserve an historic structure, create jobs and move people from persistent poverty to skilled employment. The location for this project is Census Tract 9521.00 in Ulster County, a “distressed community” which is designated by HUD as a “Qualified Census Tract” (QCT.) A QCT is any census tract in which at least 50 percent of households have an income less than 60 percent of the Average Median Income. In Ulster County as of 2016, this represents a family of 4 less than $45,540.
Creative entrepreneurial commerce exemplifies the neighborhood with area businesses Bailey Pottery, American-Made Monster, R&F Handmade Paints, M&E Manufacturing, Cornell Street Studios, ColorPage, Brush and Shirt Factories leading the charge. RUPCO’s award-winning Lace Mill anchors the midtown movement at one end with 55 homes for artists and their families. At the Ulster Performing Arts Center crossroads of Broadway and Cedar/Cornell Street, new galleries and eateries provide a business base for residents of the proposed net-zero for living mixed-use, mixed-income E2: Energy Square with 57 apartments replacing the defunct bowling alley three blocks from The Metro. Midtown’s transformation blends a mix of housing types with business ventures, historic rehabilitation and new construction of underutilized and blighted properties to revitalize the neighborhood.
It speaks well of the newly formed city government of Kingston that the first building it erected, between 1872 and 1874, was an institution to care for some 200 of the city’s poor. The City Almshouse was designed by the region’s leading architect, John. A. Wood (1837-1910), who had already designed many important Kingston buildings. Wood used an up-to-date Victorian style, the Italianate, to create a building with a three-part facade that was both dignified and economical. Italianate features include the freely interpreted classical forms of the porch, the variously arched windows topped with drip moldings, the projecting eaves, and the gently pitched roof. Also worthy of preservation are a utility building and barn or stable behind the main building. The Almshouse interior was remodeled in 1954 by architect Harry Halverson to serve as the Ulster County Chronic Infirmary, but the original exterior was minimally altered.
Architect Wood based Kingston’s three-part Italianate facade on the Poughkeepsie City Alms House he had designed earlier, in 1868. Poughkeepsie’s former Almshouse, listed on the National Register in 1978, can now perhaps be a model for the preservation and adaptive reuse of Kingston’s structure. Poughkeepsie’s main building has been successfully renovated as Maplewood, housing for senior citizens, while the adjacent barn or stable has been adapted to function as Mill Street Loft, an arts program for young people. Ulster County proposes a similar adaptive reuse that will preserve this historic building, the first built by the new City of Kingston after its creation in 1872 and the work of a distinguished nineteenth century Hudson Valley architect.
Early Care for the Poor in Ulster County and Kingston
In his history of Kingston written in 1888, Marius Schoonmaker wrote that the trustees of the early township of Kingston had “uniformly from the time of their incorporation taken care of the poor of the town and provided for their wants.” Provision for the poor was, in fact, written into the town’s charter. In 1770, the colonial legislature explicitly made the trustees overseers of the poor. But it was 1790 before the township’s Board of Trustees resolved on building an alms house. They also specified a piece of property on which it would be built.
In time, other use was found for the property on which an alms house was to have been built but the resolution to have an alms house remained in effect. In 1803, the town trustees set forth a plan for selling off lots in the town’s “Commons” or undeveloped wood and pasture land to the town’s freeholders. The money collected for selling the lots would be used to finance support for the poor, presumably including the building of the alms house first mentioned in 1790.
In 1805, the Village of Kingston was created out of the larger township. Although provision of some kind was probably made for the poor of Kingston village, no building seems to have been designated for this purpose nor, based on a reading of Stuart Blumin’s study of the neighboring Rondout village, does that much newer village, incorporated in 1849, seem to have included such an institution. In 1872, the villages of Kingston and Rondout combined to form the City of Kingston. At the very first meeting of the city’s new Common Council, Mayor James Lindsley pointed out that the State Legislature provided for the establishment of an Almshouse Commission and bonding authority of $10,000 to build an alms house. According to Mayor Lindsley, the greatest change in the new Charter was in taking care of the poor and the distribution of alms.
A newly appointed Almshouse Commission voted at its first meeting to visit the Alms House in Poughkeepsie. In June of 1873 the Commission voted to hire J. A. Wood, an architect who was well-known in the Hudson Valley “to draw the plans and superintend the construstion of a large and suitable building for the keeping of paupers.” After acquiring 21 acres on the outskirts of Kingston for a building site, the Commission determined that $10,000 was not enough to build the alms house and went back to the State Legislature for permission to bond up to $25,000 for the building.
Work began during the summer of 1873 with Henry Otis chosen to do the masonry work. It was the first of a number of buildings on which Wood and Otis would work together. The new Kingston City Almshouse was opened in June of 1874.
The New Almshouse
The 21-acre site for the Almshouse was on Flatbush Road at the northern boundary of the village. The facility was intended to care for somewhere between 150 and 200 of the poor. The main building consisted of a four-story main building (30 x 60 feet) with adjoining three-story wings (each 40 x 40 feet), in an Italianate style clad in brick. Plans were made for a large brick barn (30 x 50 feet) and for a frame laundry building behind the Almshouse. A quarry behind the laundry was to provide stone for a wall around the property. Of the 21 acres, 16 were to be cultivated for vegetable gardening together with apple trees. A spring-fed reservoir (38 feet in diameter and 8 feet deep) was to provide water. The site itself cost $7,000 and the main building $23,000. Another $22,000 was allocated for the grounds.
The Almshouse opened in July, 1874. Six years later, an unnamed reporter in the Kingston Daily Freeman wrote that “There has been an immense amount of work done by the inmates of the institution in the years since 1874 in grading. Other cities have their charitable institutions . . . but there are few cities that can boast of as good and well kept an Alms House as Kingston can. Much fault has been found of the cost of its erection, but those who conceived the plans were working for the future, and coming generations may praise them for their far-seeing wisdom. It is a substantial building, and when poor people have become so old that they have no kith or kin on which to depend for support may thank fortune to be allowed to live their remaining days in such a home as is here provided for them.”
“The house as far as cleanliness and fresh air is concerned is as good as any hotel or summer boarding house in this or any other county. It would pay any one to visit the Alms House, and go into its upper stories, as the best view can there be obtained of the surrounding country in our city. The view takes in a grand sweep nearly all the Catskill range and the Shawangunk mountains, the whole of old Kingston village and a long stretch of country including the level plain toward Saugerties, which already has been waving fields of grain. Just inside the main entrance to the building are the two offices of the Superintendent . . . . The dining room is very pleasant, having windows its entire length and facing the Catskills. . . . The kitchen contains a mammoth American cook stove. The whole building is heated by steam . . . .”
Later or Additional Buildings
The one-story building with monitor roof immediately behind the main building of the Almshouse is identified in 1932 Sanborn maps as the laundry, built sometime after 1880. A similar laundry was built just behind the Poughkeepsie Almshouse.
The barn or stable further to the rear of the property (probably the building scheduled to be built in 1880) again relates to stables or barns behind the Poughkeepsie Almshouse.
A Burying Ground
A “burying ground” at the Almshouse is mentioned in these issues of the Kingston Daily Freeman:
May 3, 1907: Body of Frank Sheldon (with “bad habits”) interred.
June 23, 1909: Body of unidentified man killed in north yard of West Shore Railroad buried at Almshouse, but now identified and disinterred for burial in New Jersey.
April 12, 1910: Body of Mag Graney found in Hudson River “after a debauche” probably to be interred at Almshouse burying ground.
August 15, 1911: Body of Henry Clark who died suddenly on upper Broadway interred in the Almshouse burial ground after Undertaker Murphy unable to communicate with relatives.
Similarities Between Kingston and Poughkeepsie Almshouses
Both of the alms houses have a central, three-story main block flanked by matching two-story wings placed slightly forward of the main block. Both are in the Italianate style in terms of their porches, window heads, cornices, and low roofs with slightly rising gables.
More Recent History
By the end of the nineteenth century, the Almshouse was commonly known as “The Poor House” and was administered by the Board of Alms Commissioners . In 1948, the building was vacated and, in 1954, the property was transferred to the county for use as a chronic infirmary. The Ulster County Infirmary operated in the building until new facilities were built at another site (Golden Hill) in 1973. Thereafter, the building served as offices for the Ulster County Health Department until 2014 or 2015.
The Architect: John A. Wood
[The following is from William B. Rhoads’s Kingston New York – The Architectural Guide (page 179):
A. Wood was the leading architect in the Mid-Hudson region in the late 1860s and 1870s, designing several of Kingston’s most prominent buildings of that period. Born in 1837 in the Town of Bethel, Sullivan County, he was the son of Stephen C. Wood and Mary Crist Wood. By 1863 he was practicing in Poughkeepsie, where his office remained until 1871 when he established his office on Broadway in New York. His operations were centered in New York for the rest of his life.
His buildings in Kingston include First Baptish Church, Albany Avenue, 1868; conversion of former Dutch Reforemd Church to St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, 1869; Kignston Music Hall (later Opera House), on Fair Street, 1867-1869; Ulster County Savings Bank, Wall Street, 1868-1869; Office of Simeon and William B. Fitch , Wilbur, 1870; Children’s Church, Ponckhockie, 1870-1871; Kingston City Almshouse, 1872-1874; Thomas Cornell Carriage House, 1873; Dr. Robert Loughran House, Fair Street, 1873; Kingston Argus Building, Wall Street, 1874 (demolished); First Presbyterian Church, Elmendorf Street , 1878; New York State Armory , Broadway, 1878; and Stuyvesant Hotel, John and Fair Streets, 1910.
Wood became something of a specialist in hotel design, and was responsible for the second Overlook Mountain House (1878) above Woodstock, the Tremper House (1879) in Phoenicia, the Grand Hotel (1881) at Highmount, as well as hotels in Georgia and Florida. The most famous of the latter is the Tampa Bay Hotel (1891), preserved by the University of Tampa.
A. Wood died in Middletown on December 18, 1910, and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Town of Bethel. His career hs been the subject of intense and fruitful research by Annon Adams and James Storrow, who have generously shared their findings with me.[Rhoads describes the Kingston Almshouse on page 114:] It speaks well of the new city government that the first building it erected was an institution to care (inexpensively) for 150 to 200 of the poor of Kingston. J. A. Wood had already designed the Poughkeepsie City Almshouse in 1868, and so he repeated the Italianate elements of that three-part facade in a fashion that alludes to the dignity of municipal government while avoiding expensive ornament. In 1954, the building was remodeled by Harry Halverson to serve as the Ulster County Chronic Infirmary.
Adams, Annon. “Victorian Ambitions: J. A. Wood’s Architectural Legacy in Ulster County,” a slide lecture presented to the Ulster County Historical Society at the Bevier House on November 3, 2007.
Blumin, Stuart M. The Urban Threshold – Growth and Change in a Nineteenth-Century American Community. University of Chicago Press. Chicago, 1976.
Kellar, Jane and Roberts, Peter. “Preservation of the Kingston City Alms House (1872) – Kingston, NY.” Comment presented to Ulster County by the Friends of Historic Kingston about the preservation of the Alms House.
Kingston Daily Freeman, June 2, 1880. “City Alms House…What a Reporter Saw of Interest.” (Available online at fultonhistory.com; search “Kingston Alms Houses” and see third of twelve items). Kingston, New York.
Rhoads, William B. Kingston New York – The Architectural Guide. 2003. Black Dome Press. Hensonville, New York. The Alms House is pictured and described on page 114.
Schoonmaker, Marius. The History of Kingston, New York from Its Early Settlement to the Year 1820. Burr Printing House. New York: 1888.[Sections of this application were prepared by Lowell Thing using extensive notes provided by William B. Rhoads. Lowell Thing can be reached at [email protected]]
 For information on Maplewood, contact Burt Gold, principal at Fallkill Properties, Collegeview Ave., 471-8433; on Mill Street Loft, contact Carole Wolf, 471-7477; this contact information provided by Professor Harvey Flad of Vassar College.
 Schoonmaker, pps. 376-377.
 Schoonmaker, p. 378.
 Schoonmaker, p. 382.
 Rhoads, p. 114.
 Kingston Daily Freeman, June 2, 1880.
 Kingston Daily Freeman, June 2, 1880.
 Rhoads informal note.
 Kellar, p. 3.
RUPCO, the Hudson Valley’s premier developer and operator of affordable housing, and the Ulster County Economic Development Alliance (UCEDA) took an important step today toward rising to the challenge of providing a housing solution to many of the County’s most vulnerable residents. In keeping with Governor Cuomo’s call this year to construct 1200 units of housing of supportive housing for the homeless across the state, the UCEDA entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with RUPCO to sell the County’s historic Alms House site at 300 Flatbush Avenue to RUPCO who plans to develop a 66-unit, integrated housing campus to provide housing for the homeless and seniors.
The property currently features the City of Kingston’s historic Alms House built circa 1874, and fronts on both Flatbush Avenue and Route 9W. RUPCO expects to repurpose the existing structure with 34 units of single-resident apartments. The Kingston Supportive Housing proposal also includes new construction of 32 apartments, age-restricted to seniors age 55 and over. 35 of the apartments will offer support services to a mix of homeless populations with special needs including veterans and frail or disabled seniors.
“The MOU is an important first step to redeveloping this property in response to a growing need, and we are proud to have the opportunity to make this historic site a home to some of Ulster’s most vulnerable populations,” said Kevin O’Connor, RUPCO’s Chief Executive Officer. “The use of this building as a center of supportive housing services is a natural step in the history of how the most vulnerable populations among us are treated. People who were left behind by society at the time of its construction were housed here as a ‘poor house’; later it was a hospital ward for those suffering from tuberculosis. Today, the goal is to provide the dignity of a home to everyone. That’s what we’re going to do here.”
“RUPCO has a track record for creating high quality, accessible housing units to meet the diverse needs of our population,” said Mayor Steve Noble. “I am pleased that RUPCO is focusing its efforts and resources on filling the gap in housing opportunities for those in need of supportive services, including homeless individuals and senior citizens. I am confident that should RUPCO succeed in its funding requests and approvals, residents accessing this new supportive housing campus will benefit immensely. In addition to providing good quality housing to our local residents, I am pleased that the property will be added to the tax rolls, which will benefit our entire community.”
In addition to an ever-present need for affordable senior housing, Ulster County has just 27 shelters beds to house homeless families. Between January and April 2016, the monthly average number of homeless people in Ulster County was 160. That number climbed to 177 during May. When Ulster County’s 27 shelter beds are full, the remaining homeless are placed in motels where the average length of stay is 85 days, at costs of $65 to $91 per day. The alternative to costly emergency shelter is permanent supportive housing that can save over $16,282 per person per year (according to the Corporation of Supportive Housing).
“Recidivism rates among our homeless are staggering: within the first year, the recidivism rate is 18%; at by 2 years, fully 26% of those who were homeless return to being homeless. But, homelessness doesn’t have to be chronic. Permanent supportive housing is the answer, and this a small, but critical step,” adds O’Connor. “Increasingly, affordable housing is beyond the means of many in our community and our aging baby boomer population is not immune.”
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) Out of Reach report released in May 2016, the hourly wage rates of renters has gone down in Ulster County from $9.90 in 2012 to $9.26 in 2016. The hourly wage required in Ulster County to afford a 2-bedroom apartment is $22.04 and this gap is trend is growing. The 2016 fair market rent (FMR) for a 2-bedroom apartment in Ulster County is $1,146 per month, however the average wage of Ulster County renters will only support a rent of $482.
For RUPCO to move forward with Kingston Supportive Housing, the property (currently zoned residential) requires a zoning change to commercial/multifamily zoning by vote of the Kingston Common Council. The MOU shows RUPCO is ready to purchase Alms House property for $950,000, pending zoning changes and site plan approval from the City of Kingston Planning Board. Zoning and planning approvals could take six to 12 months. Once those approvals are in place, the property closing could take another three to six months. New building construction and renovation and historical preservation of the existing Alms House would begin by year-end 2017.
The property was designed by architect J.A. Wood, who also created The Stuyvesant hotel, owned by RUPCO at 289 Fair Street, Kingston. Originally constructed as a solution for care of the City’s poor, Alms House was later used as a tuberculosis ward in the 1950s and then housed the County’s Department of Health offices. In its 156-year history, the site has never been a part of the City of Kingston or Ulster County tax rolls. RUPCO’s purchase and development will place the property on both tax accounts receivable ledgers once complete.
RUPCO’s Kingston Supportive Housing proposal brings Alms House full circle, providing dignified, supportive care and services through a housing solution that serves Ulster County’s most vulnerable populations: seniors, the disabled and the homeless. The 14.86-acre site currently includes the 23,000-square foot historic main building and three smaller, storage and HVAC buildings. The proposal also calls for construction of a 4/5-story, 37,000-square-foot senior residence building designed by local architect, Dutton Architecture. The housing campus may generate up to 10-12 new jobs including a case manager, nurse, 24/7 security, on-site superintendent, property manager and maintenance support.
The historic rehabilitation of Alms House will include 34 apartments; 28 of those will be designated to permanent supportive housing for those currently homeless plus 1 on-site superintendent apartment. Approximately 2500 square feet in the historic building will be allocated to community/program space.
In the proposed new construction, 32 apartments for seniors 55 and over, includes 7 designated specifically as permanent residence to those currently homeless. Approximately 3500 square feet on the first floor will serve as community and commercial space. The proposal would be financed through a series of funding opportunities including mortgage debt, private equity, 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Historic Tax Credits, and other potential sources.
For 35 years, RUPCO has led the region in creating and maintaining quality, sustainable housing and rental opportunities, inspiring understanding and acceptance of affordable housing initiatives, fostering community development and revitalization, and providing opportunity to people to improve their living standards. In that time, RUPCO has established a successful track record as a leader in the creation and improvement of quality, sustainable housing, created strong partnerships locally and nationally, and has maintained a fiscally healthy balance sheet, allowing for flexibility and agility in providing services. As part of its mission, RUPCO provides first-time homebuyer education, rental assistance, and senior/disabled supportive housing services. For more information, visit www.rupco.org.