RUPCO 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.”
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.