FACTORY SETTING: Housing agency envisions rebirth of former curtain manufacturing site in Kingston (video)
Cracked and boarded-up windows dot the brick façade of the former Midtown Kingston factory where lace curtains were fabricated many years ago.
The building, an immense 55,000-square-foot structure towering over the CSX Corp. railroad tracks at South Manor Avenue and Cornell Street, has been virtually vacant since the 1980s.
For years, Kevin O’Connor has driven past the site of the former United States Lace Curtain Mill. Each time, he’s become more convinced the place would make an attractive housing facility.
“Since I came to Kingston, I have looked at this building sitting there boarded up and underutilized right in the heart of Midtown,” said O’Connor, the executive director of the Rural Ulster Preservation Co., an affordable housing agency known as RUPCO.
The agency now is embarking on an ambitious plan to gut and renovate the old factory and turn it into a 55-unit complex of mostly one-bedroom apartments.
RUPCO’s plan is to create loft-type spaces for artists with the help of Kingston architect Scott Dutton, who is designing the project.
O’Connor’s agency has taken on other challenging projects in the past, including, recently, the remake of the former Kirkland Hotel at Clinton Avenue and Main Street in Uptown Kingston, an early 20th century landmark that Ulster County officials once envisioned razing to expand the County Office Building’s parking lot.
Today, the Kirkland stands as a prime example of historic renovation, offering apartments, offices and restaurant space.
Chuck Snyder, the real estate director for RUPCO, said that although the United States Lace Curtain Mill building is structurally sound, the renovation cost is projected at $15 million, which amounts to about $272,000 per apartment. Continued...
The agency hopes it will receive tax credits and other incentives to make the project viable as affordable-living space. It also plans to seek historic landmark status by having the building placed on the National Register of Historic Places, which would open channels for tax credits for historic building restoration.
The project has the support of Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo, who said it would transform a vacant building, add to the city’s housing stock, help revitalize Midtown and provide an oasis for young artists and couples.
Gallo also has said the new housing would help Midtown businesses because people living in the facility would frequent neighborhood shops and restaurants.
RUPCO’s plan is making its way through the city’s approval channels. A site plan will be reviewed by the Planning Board on June 11 at City Hall.
An artist’s concept of what the project would look like also has been submitted to City Hall.
O’Connor said the site offers “ample parking,” is only a few blocks off Midtown’s Broadway corridor and has “striking spaces and high ceilings” preferred by artists.
“It is a great reuse of a resource in this bygone industrial area,” O’Connor said, adding that the renovation would yield a neighborhood of “the creative class.”
RUPCO has yet to purchase the building but plans to start construction next year.
“One thing we know is that there is a desire for this kind of space,” Snyder said. “We think the cards are tipped in our favor.”
Guy Kempe, RUPCO’s vice president for community development, said that with the growing population of artists in Kingston, the project is due. Continued...
“This is the right project at the right place,” Kempe said.
Inside the building, boxes upon boxes of stored cosmetic products are piled on some of the floors beneath 12-foot ceilings.
In a basement, a boiler room — slated to become a community space — is wracked with debris and decay.
But, in general, the building stands in good shape.
In a previous press release, RUPCO said it believes the development proposal is an “opportunity to remove blight, provide housing and foster job creation” as well as become “another major catalyst for the rejuvenation of the Midtown Kingston neighborhood.”
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