New York – June 4, 2019 – In light of the recent announcement that the Town of Hurley has proposed and voted on a moratorium on multifamily housing, the developer of the West Hurley Elementary School, whose project may be impacted by such a finding, has been deeply considering alternatives to the adaptive reuse of the property to 46 market rate apartments.
When developers entered into contract on the property in February of 2017 with the stated intent of creating market rate housing, they began a process of review guided by state law and with county and town supervision. Concerns stoked in late 2018 by a rent dispute in one of the principle’s Brooklyn properties, with allegations of tenant harassment that were dismissed by tenant courts in Brooklyn, led to an opposition that brought the developers to West Hurley for an informational hearing on April 17. After hearing concerns from residents, the developers felt they could address all environmental concerns through the legal review process in place and hoped the open dialogue would lead to a partnership with the community. However, upon learning of a Moratorium reportedly intended to slow the development, the developer began to listen to alternative proposals that are as of right for the property.
After a long closed-door meeting, Danenberg is quoted as saying he is “deeply considering an offer from a Yeshiva group for utilizing the existing School Buildings as a religious school, as this would be as of right.” An attorney close to the sale and versed in land use law in Ulster County has said that although this would generate no tax revenue for the Town going forward, the use as a religious school is as of right and that courts have consistently upheld the right to pursue such uses in Ulster County towns in the recent past.
A junior partner on the project expressed that the original plan to convert the school buildings to apartments would have less impact than the alternative being considered, stating that “adaptive reuse to multi family housing is a no brainer. It carries the least environmental impact of any kind of building, returns the property to the tax rolls and preserves the community as a peaceful residential enclave while providing much needed quality residential housing. Once environmental concerns are addressed through due process, the impact of 46 bedrooms in high quality apartments would carry significantly less impact than a fully operational school. People may not remember the buses and cars and the effects of 300 plus people using the property as a school.” He expressed hope that a partnership between the town and the developer might still be possible, and added: “No one likes change, but to my understanding the sale is going forward and the buildings will not sit empty.“
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