“The mayor was either being led around by something else, or he just doesn’t care,” said Piazza. “I drafted one proposal and they said it was not clear enough, I sent a second proposal and they said it was too complex.”
A lot of work needed, says Salzmann
Kingston Fire Chief Rick Salzmann, who heads the steering committee, said the proposal was rejected because Piazza insisted that the city perform expensive engineering studies to determine if the buildings were suitable for adaptive reuse.
“He had a conceptual thing,” said Salzmann. “But the city had to do a considerable amount of work to work to determine if the buildings were capable of doing what he wanted to do.”
The King’s Inn has been closed since October 2007 after city inspectors condemned the then-welfare motel for building code violations. In July 2010, the city took title to the property in lieu of unpaid taxes. Since then the steering committee has sought a developer for the site. An open-ended Request for Proposals put out last year failed to get any response. More recently, the Newburgh-based nonprofit Safe Harbors on the Hudson submitted a proposal to put up a multi-use building on the site that would incorporate low-income supportive housing as well as community and arts space to complement UPAC. That proposal was withdrawn after it came under heavy criticism by opponents of more low-income housing in Midtown. The plan’s backers say they may resubmit the proposal after November’s election in hopes that a cooler political climate will allow for a more objective hearing for the project.
Meanwhile, Diane Reeder, executive director of the Queens Galley and Washington Manor, has put forth her own plan for the site. The proposal would create a bistro to serve as a training restaurant for students in the nonprofit’s food service training program. The group’s soup kitchen would move from its current location on Washington Avenue to another building adjacent to the restaurant. Originally, Reeder had proposed including residential space for students and former residents of the Washington Manor boarding house which shares space with the soup kitchen and is in danger of closing.