Non profit plans to transform vacant buildings into affordable housing
By Leonard Sparks Times Herald-Record
Posted Nov. 25, 2014 @ 7:32 pm
CITY OF NEWBURGH – Kingston-based RUPCO is teaming with the Newburgh Community Land Bank on a proposal to turn 15 long-vacant properties in the City of Newburgh into more than 40 units of affordable apartments for low-income residents.
Properties on DuBois, First, Johnston, Lander and South Miller Streets on the city’s East End, north of Broadway, have been identified for renovation under the $14 million proposal.
RUPCO – the Rural Ulster Preservation Company – plans to apply for federal and state tax credits by Dec. 4. If approved it estimates construction would begin by September 2015. Completion would take about two years.
“There’s tremendous need right now in Newburgh,” said Kevin O’Connor, executive director for RUPCO, a non profit that provides affordable housing services throughout the region. “When we look at cities that have been hit hard by foreclosures … none of them have been hit harder than Newburgh.
”The Land Bank chose RUPCO after reviewing proposals by other developers, and the organization presented its plan to Newburgh’s City Council on Thursday.
It calls for transforming properties in a five-block area into 47 one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments for low-income households.
There would be 30 one-bedrooms, with rents ranging from $400 to $600; nine two-bedroom apartments in the $900 range; and eight three-bedrooms whose month cost would be between $900 and $1,100.One building would have five apartments above ground level and a street level community and art gallery space, O’Connor said. And artists would be given preference for 25 percent of the units, he said.
Land Bank funds would be used to eliminate asbestos and lead problems to ready the properties for renovation.
“We’re going to do a very historic restoration of these buildings,” O’Connor said.
Safe Harbors of the Hudson, which runs the 128-apartment Cornerstone Residence on Broadway, would manage the properties. Together they would generate an estimated $42,000 a year in property taxes for the city.
“We’re starting off with affordable rental units for the area that will start to stabilize and send a signal that these are blocks that are ready to be revitalized,” said Councilwoman Karen Mejia.
There have also been discussions about linking the project to efforts to create local jobs, according Mejia and O’Connor.
Local subcontractors would be sought for the project and local residents sought for asbestos abatement and the estimated 53 construction jobs.
“We can actually get a large block of the properties that they do have up and running and we would be looking at, within the next two years, completing this project,” Mejia said. “That, in and of itself, is pretty remarkable.”