National Resources, the Greenwich-based developer that counts iPark 87 in Kingston among its properties has developed a master plan that includes residential and commercial uses for the Ulster County site in the town of Ulster.
Joseph Cotter, president and CEO of National Resources, told Ulster Town Council members and town planners that he hoped to have a formal site plan submission ready before the end of the year for initial elements of the master plan.
“The master plan that we’re presenting tonight represents, I would say, a group effort, a team effort of including a lot of the uses that we believe will work. But, more importantly, we tried to listen and see what the community wanted,” Cotter said. “A lot of this plan is representative of a lot of feedback we’ve had, including some of the market conditions.”
Cotter pointed out that the global economic climate has changed in recent months and said those conditions would add to the challenges inherent in trying to redevelop the property.
“We’re optimistic and we have some good ideas,” Cotter said. “One of the main challenges for the site is that a lot of the infrastructure is broken. When we present some of the components here I think the most important message is the fact that in order to get companies, particularly manufacturing companies and some of the other companies that we were engaged with, they all want to know where are they going to eat, how’s housing in the area, where their employees are going to live, how’s transportation going to work and is there going to be other activities for them that would make employees want to come and work here.”
The iPark 87 site at one time housed IBM and then, after IBM left, was rebranded TechCity by developer Alan Ginsberg who attempted to repurpose and revitalize the property. Environmental clean-up issues and mounting unpaid property taxes were two major problems that led to a deal being struck for Ginsberg to step out and National Resources to step in.
“For this plan we believe our best opportunities to attract good companies are to offer not only the workforce training but to offer good properties that have infrastructure to try to attract manufacturers in particular,“ Cotter said. “Job creation is essential for the site.”
Cotter said that there have been discussions with battery companies to use a manufacturing building that IBM had used, which is known as Building 1.
“One of the themes that we’re trying to do here is to make this a renewable energy hub,” Cotter said. “We’re in discussions with some battery companies. We do have a letter of intent with one group, which we hope to turn into a lease within the next three to six months.”
He said a storage space company and a group that wants to manufacture dairy products have expressed interest in coming to other existing buildings at iPark 87, and that National Resources has a letter of intent with Mary Stewart Masterson’s Upriver Studios to develop two soundstages and movie and TV production support space totaling about 100,000 square feet.
Cotter said that one of the goals in creating the proposed 600 units of housing on the site would be to build a zero carbon footprint community,
“The battery company already has given us a blueprint for battery storage for this community. We’ve actually embedded their technology into this residential community,” Cotter said.
There would be low-rise residential buildings with courtyards and a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. Space for retailers would be provided, both to serve the residents on-site and for the public at large. Other proposed elements include an arts center, artist studios, a hotel and a brewery.
“The purpose of this housing is to provide what we call ‘modern housing,’ but it is designed for basically workforce; it’s not luxury housing,” Cotter said. “It’s not what we call subsidized housing. It would accommodate a range of workers that could live here as well as other community members. The units are on the smaller side. They’re designed to be supportive not only for the community generally but for the employees in the workforce that we hope we’re able to attract here.”
Cotter said that making good use of the existing site is smart growth and should shorten the approval process compared with starting with a site that had nothing on it. He said constructing the housing would be a priority.
“We think it’s important to at least get some of the housing,” Cotter said. “If we all wait and hold our breath nothing will happen. The battery company already on the phone today said he’s going to need at least 100 units of housing over time. We’re going to try to create a, we hope, a great people place, a community that will be an asset.”
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