Mayor Steve Noble and developers have struck a deal to add 14 affordable housing units to the highly disputed Kingstonian project in Uptown Kingston.
According to a press release from the mayor, the units will be studio and one-bedroom apartments for people who make between 60-110 percent of the area median income of $45,500 per year.
While standard rent for 129 units will start at $1,350 per month, rents for the additional 14 units could rent for as low as $600 per month to those who qualify due to their income.
Housing activists have spoken loudly at each stage of the planning process for the Kingstonian, which is being developed by JM Development and the owners of Herzog Supply.
In addition to the housing units, developers are also planning retail space, a 420-space parking garage, a boutique hotel, a plaza and pedestrian bridge over Schwenk Drive.
Developers point out that they had been following existing zoning and building laws which did not require the addition of the 14 affordable housing units, but made the change because the community campaigned for it.
Activists had challenged the city's and developer's interpretation of the city's Mixed Use Overlay District (MUOD).
The MUOD requires 20 percent affordable housing in projects that renovate older buildings in Uptown. There was debate over whether the 20 percent rule should apply to new structures.
“Even though it is not called for in the existing Zoning Law as stated by the Zoning Code Enforcement Officer, we have been listening to the concerns of the community and are addressing further needs of the City that were not identified in the original RFQ,” Joe Bonura of JM Development said in a statement. “It’s been our goal from the outset to deliver a project that everyone can be proud of, and we feel with these modifications we are one step closer to doing that.”
Noble hopes the new agreement inspires change in city code to require future projects to include a percentage of affordable housing units in new housing projects of six or more units.
“This is a benchmark model I would like to see translated into other projects across the City to meet the intent of our Comprehensive Plan," the mayor said. "I believe that it is an important and realistic goal and would firmly support this legislative item be taken up by the Common Council.”