The Super Garage public informational meeting at Cornell Steamboat Building on 12/13 was held with community members after plans of a huge building with a rooftop pool and ice skating rink were released. We were reassured that the project is its beginning stages and any plans we may have seen were conceptual and not the final plans.
The meeting began with developer Robert Ianucci telling the story of how he acquired acres of land on the Kingston waterfront (6:30 tape 1 below).
It was then followed by a history lesson on the Kingston waterfront and its ties to the Kingston economy (18:40-45:00 tape 1).
The meeting was then opened to questions from the audience. Community members voiced their concerns about the size of the building and how it would fit within the existing residential community, how increasing traffic would affect the tranquil neighborhood, whether rising sea levels and energy efficiency were being considered in the building’s plans, and how the look of the building might keep with the historic waterfront architecture.
The most telling part of the evening occurred when Ianucci was asked how he would make sure his building would not contribute to the gentrification of the area and whether affordable housing would be part of the vision for the building (31:30 tape 2 below). It was then he became defensive and said he gives back to the city everyday by way of paying taxes, implied he would be losing money on the project, and avoided the topic of affordable housing by saying he is not in the business of building luxury apartments.
Ianucci’s answers are telling because they highlight his belief that he is doing Kingston a favor by paying taxes. As more developers angle for tax breaks, while low-income people struggle to get by, this narrative is one we must push back against.
Additionally, stating he would be losing money on the project does not make much sense after hearing the story of how he has acquired so many properties — by buying low and selling high. It is difficult to believe an astute developer would choose to lose money on a project.
Finally, Kingston is in dire need of affordable housing. There is a world of difference between luxury apartments and affordable housing. His answer to that question shows either his ignorance of the issue or his willful avoidance of it. Neither is great.
The meeting ended with talk of plans to continue involving the community moving forward. If you would like to be included in future meetings, you can contact Ann Loeding at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to Kingston Citizens for filming the meeting and making the videos available to all.
We will continue updating the community as more meetings are held.