Developers of The Kingstonian in Uptown Kingston recently caught a planning mistake about six months after they first applied to build the massive project, and they are now trying to fix it, according to several people familiar with the project.
The $52 million project would include 131 luxury apartments, a boutique hotel, retail space, a pedestrian bridge and more than 400 parking spaces.
Sources told Spectrum News on Monday the developers, JM Development Group, notified the city planning department last month that parts of the proposed project fall outside Uptown's Mixed Use Overlay Zoning District (MUOD), requiring a zoning change in order for the project plan to continue as-is.
Part of the project would fall in an area just outside the MUOD to the north.
The Kingston Common Council scheduled a public hearing on August 12 on the zoning change request, and may vote sometime in early September on whether to make the change.
Local activist groups, who were already at odds with JM Development over the absence of affordable housing in their plans, are upset with the planning department for the oversight.
Rebecca Martin, the director of advocacy group KingstonCitizens.Org, wrote in a recent post that the department's handling of the project is muddying the process. She points out that the all-important environmental review process began on a project that most involved believed met zoning requirements.
"The failure of the planning department to identify that part of the Kingstonian project falls outside of the designated MUOD area when the application was submitted adds even greater confusion about the project process," Martin wrote in a post.
Opponents have also said the project violates the spirit of the MUOD amendment, created in 2005.
"The first purpose [of the MUOD] is to adaptively reuse existing commercial and industrial buildings to provide rental multifamily housing, including affordable housing, to the present and future residents of the City of Kingston," city code states. "The second purpose is to encourage mixed-use, mixed-income, pedestrian-based neighborhoods."
The project, so far, does not include plans for affordable housing. According to city code, affordable housing units are units that cost the renters no more than 30 percent of a household's income.
Activists also question why JM Development should be allowed to build in Uptown's MUOD, since the MUOD amendment requires 20% of units in a repurposed building to be devoted to affordable housing candidates chosen from a tenant pool kept by city's Office of Community Development or the Kingston Housing Authority.
While rents are likely going to start at $1,300 per month and the project does not include plans for affordable housing, developers told Spectrum News in March they were open to having a discussion about affordable housing.
The zoning change request has been referred to the Common Council's Laws and Rules Committee, whose members are seeking input from Kingston Planning Board, Ulster County Planning Board and the Kingston Landmark Preservation Commission.
After the common council hearing on August 12, the Laws and Rules Committee will consider all public input and input from the other agencies in a meeting on August 21.
If the commitee approves the request, it will then go before the common council for a final vote.