Nomination approved for City of Kingston’s first civic construction built in 1864; joins official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation
Kingston made History again on February 2, as State and National Registers of Historic Places officially added the City’s first civic building built in the mid-19th century to its lists of sties worthy of preservation. RUPCO submitted an application for historic designation of The Almshouse — 300 Flatbush Avenue, Kingston — at the request of both City and County agencies last year. The State Historic Preservation Office notified all parties last week that The Almshouse achieved that designation. Both state and national registers list buildings, structures, districts, objects, and sites significant in the history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture of New York and the nation.
“The Kingston City Almshouse was on the agenda for consideration by the NYS Board for Historic Preservation on December 7, 2017,” explains Guy Kempe, Vice President of Community Development at RUPCO. “The nomination was recommended and advanced to the National Park Service for consideration. Both the State Historic Preservation Officer and National Park Service Keeper of the Register approved the Almshouse nomination to both Historic Registers. Our request is a win for historic preservation in a city and region known for its historic value. Thanks to all who contributed to the first step towards preservation of this historic structure for future generations.”
“Friends of Historic Kingston applauds this New York State and national recognition of the significance of this landmark building,” adds John Braunlein, President of the Board of Directors for the local historic preservation society, Friends of Historic Kingston. “The preservation of our historic buildings shape the future of our community. Our local architecture and honored historical traditions strengthen the vitality of our lives. We strongly believe that the Kingston City Alms House is an intrinsic part of our caring traditions and can continue to serve the citizens of our community.”
The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources. The Almshouse appointment was published on the weekly list of actions taken on properties, 1/26/2018 through 2/2/2018. Both the State and National Registers use the same eligibility criteria.
“The dual historic designation also allows us to bring state and federal monies to Kingston and Ulster County through historic tax credits,” adds Kevin O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer at RUPCO. “This funding will stimulate the local economy and create jobs, as we rehab the existing historic structure into 34 desperately needed, senior-living apartments with supportive services. This is a win for seniors, but more importantly, it’s a win for our community. We’re putting this property on the tax rolls for the first time ever since 1874, when it opened. It’s a win for our local businesses, as we’ll spend this outside funding in Ulster County during construction. It’s a win for regional tourism, as visitors have yet another iconic site to view at Landmark Place. And it’s a win for architectural aficionados as we preserve the vision of J.A. Wood.”
RUPCO has successfully worked under the guidance of the Department of the Interior on several occasions, having met the high water mark of historic preservation standards at the award-winning Lace Mill, The Kirkland, The Stuyvesant and Petit House. “RUPCO was founded as a rural preservation company and we excel at recapturing historic, underutilized buildings and repurposing them for contemporary use that benefits our community,” adds O’Connor. “Our mission is create homes, support people, and improve communities. Landmark Place meets those mandates.”
RUPCO is advancing on its site plan review work with the Planning Board on February 20. The nonprofit plans to officially close on the property in March and place the property on the tax rolls for the first time ever. In line with the building’s historic purposes, RUPCO is repurposing the Kingston City Almshouse at 300 Flatbush Avenue, to create a senior-living campus called Landmark Place. The historic building will contain 34 apartments for seniors 55 and older needing assistance via supportive housing programs. A new residential building designed by local architect Scott Dutton will offer 32 one-bedroom apartments for seniors 55 and over, including a minimum of seven apartments dedicated to the frail elderly. “This will mark the first affordable housing for seniors in Kingston since 2001 when Brigham Center on O’Neill Street was built. It also answers Governor Cuomo’s call for permanent supportive housing to serve our vulnerable populations including frail and disabled seniors, veterans and other homeless individuals,” adds O’Connor. “Landmark Place fulfills this community’s need and is line with Kingston’s founding values of caring for and protecting our most vulnerable residents.”
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.”