In 2016: the Bonura Group proposed the $30M Water Club; 136 “market-rate” apartments in Poughkeepsie’s downtown, featuring a parking garage, private pool, gym, and rooftop terrace. The target market, according to a Poughkeepsie Journal article, was “millennials and empty-nesters looking to downsize,” within walking distance to Poughkeepsie’s restaurants and shops. The public-private partnership was made by the Bonuras promising to clean up underutilized public land, and agreeing to a PILOT of paying 2% of any revenues generated.
They vowed, “the better we do, the more money the city makes.”
Poughkeepie’s low vacancy rate and need for a “critical mass of residents to support redevelopment” were cited as supporting reasons to approve the project, which has many similarities to the Bonura Group’s proposed Kingstonian project.
Water Club rents started at $1,250 per month for a one bedroom, with no utilities included, affordable for a household making $50,000 a year.
The Poughkeepsie vacancy rate was 4.4%.
According to the 2015 Dutchess County Rental Survey, the available market rate data of available apartments in Poughkeepsie consisted of:
- 45 studios renting at $720/m
- 314 1-bedroom apartments renting at $920/m
- 379 2-bedroom apartments renting at $1,099/m
- 7 3-bedroom apartments renting at $1,355/m
Three years later:
Water Club apartments start at $1,650 per month, and the cheapest one available is $1,775 a month. They’re affordable for households making $66,000 a year, an increase of about 30% from just three years ago.
The Poughkeepsie Vacancy Rate is 1.8%, cut in under half from 2016. A healthy rental market is considered to have a vacancy rate between 5-10%.
Dutchess County Continuum of Care reported a 27% spike in homeless people from 2017 to 2018.
The Poughkeepsie Journal reported a flurry of luxury and market-rate building activity in downtown Poughkeepsie.
Despite all of the new market-rate building, which the Bonura Group and other developers claim adds supply and helps lower rents, rents have only kept going up in Poughkeepsie since the Water Club was built. In 2018, the average market rate rents were:
- 56 studios renting at $832/m (up 15% from 2015)
- 430 1-bedroom apartments renting at $1,094/m (up 18% from 2015)
- 446 2-bedroom apartments renting at $1,360/m (up 23% from 2015)
- 15 3-bedroom apartments renting at $2,140/m (up 58% from 2015)
58% of Kingston residents are living in poverty
Will the Kingstonian actually help Kingston’s rental crisis?
In 2019, the Bonura Group has proposed the $52M Kingstonian, with 131 “market-rate” apartments, 32 guest rooms, a parking garage, private pool and gym. The target market, according to a Kingston Times article, is “young professionals and empty-nesters.” The public-private partnership is being made by the Bonuras promising to build on under-utilized land, piecing together $6M in state grant money, and seeking a PILOT. Kingston’s low vacancy rate and a need for “providing new consumers to the Uptown area” were cited as supporting reasons to approve the project.
Since the Kingstonian RFP was awarded to the Bonura Group in 2017, two NYC real estate developers have purchased at least 10 Uptown Kingston properties for over $16M, at ridiculous valuations. The most recent storefront going up for rent, at 328 Wall Street (formerly Catskill Art Supply), is seeking a $9,100/m rent for a first floor retail space a stone’s throw away from the Kingstonian. Down the street, a restaurant property at 63 North Front Street (formerly Redwood) is seeking a $7,000/m rent.
Meanwhile, Kingston just had its highest number of evictions since 2010, Ulster County has its highest known number of evictions ever, and according to the United Way, 58% of Kingston residents are living in poverty.
Kingstonian rents will start at $1,350 a month, affordable for a household making $55,000 a year.
Three years later
What will Kingston look like?
Providing public land and a PILOT for luxury development in Poughkeepsie has enabled the Bonura Group and other real estate interests to make lots of money, but has nothing to do with turning back the pace of homelessness and gentrification. It could be argued that if anything, it has drastically accelerated it. If we’re going to make a similar deal in Kingston (plus $6M in grant money), let’s involve the public and focus on directly helping lower-income people in Kingston instead of serving the needs of the wealthy.
Join the Kingston Tenants Union, Rise Up Kingston, Citizen Action of the Hudson Valley, Kingston Citizens and Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson on the steps of Kingston City Hall on Wednesday, April 10 at 5 p.m.