KINGSTON, N.Y. — The Common Council is again moving forward with a proposal to sell a tax-foreclosed property on Delaware Avenue to a developer from Beacon after aldermen took another look at the deal.
During a meeting of the council’s Finance and Audit Committee on Wednesday, some aldermen said there had initially been confusion about the proposal to sell the four-unit property at 623-629 Delaware Ave. to POK Beacon LLC. They said the confusion stemmed from the process used to advertise the property for sale.
Bartek Starodaj, the city’s director of housing initiatives, told aldermen he followed Kingston’s procurement requirements when a request for expressions of interest from developers was issued for the property. He said the property was advertised and he directly reached out to individuals and agencies he thought might be interested. There were also three open houses held at the property, Starodaj said.
The four responses received were evaluated by city staff and POK Beacon LLC, led by Peter O’Kennedy, was chosen to purchase the property, Starodaj said.
Under the proposal, POK Beacon LLC would purchase the property for the full amount of back taxes owed, which amounts to $149,292. The property would be rehabilitated for use as market-rate housing.
While the Finance and Audit Committee had initially endorsed the sale last month, the full council agreed during a meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 4, to send it back for further discussion. Aldermen at the time had expressed concerns over the process used to offer the property for sale, as well as the fact it would not be used for affordable housing.
Alderwoman Michele Hirsch, D-Ward 9, said she asked that the matter be sent back to the committee while the council finalized a proposed property disposition policy.
The disposition policy was also sent back to the committee, which took no official action on it Wednesday.
Hirsch said the policy, as proposed, would require the property to be offered for sale at auction if the city did not receive a qualified response to a request for proposals, or if the council rejected the offers that were received.
Starodaj said the city did have a qualified respondent for the Delaware Avenue property.
“And there’s a risk with putting any property on auction,” Starodaj said. “First, it’s possible that we don’t even get the back taxes. Second, we lose total control.”
Starodaj said O’Kennedy has done other projects in the city and is trusted by staff at the building department. He said O’Kennedy would not “sit on” the property for a long period of time.
“I issued this RFEI (request for expressions of interest) back in the spring when this disposition policy that is currently being drafted wasn’t even put together in any way,” Starodaj added. “So, I think it’s a little bit unfair for us to then fit this within that particular disposition policy.”
Starodaj also said the property was rejected by the Kingston City Land Bank and other affordable housing agencies for redevelopment.
Other committee members said they would have preferred the property be used for affordable housing but the proper process was followed in offering it for sale.