Friday, April 11, 2008


What a great day to break out an over sized scissor and mince some ribbon.

Friday’s ceremony at the Kirkland Hotel opening signified the culmination of years of effort and creative public financing. RUPCO, in partnership with The City of Kingston has achieved a major renovation of a landmark that many Kingstonians hold dear in our memories.

What seems like a lifetime ago, the Council and the late Mayor Gallo set in motion the plan to save the neglected structure on Clinton Avenue, in hopes to spark the economic renaissance that Kingston so desperately needs. As an economic tool, historic landmarks alone don’t cut it, but this is no ordinary landmark.

Under the custodial duties of Mayor Sottile, we have a renewed cornerstone of accomplishment in the uptown district. The renovated Kirkland contains a mix of office space, residential apartment units - both government-subsidized and market-rate - and a spot for a restaurant.

The Kirkland, erected in 1899, provided lodging, a restaurant, and meeting place for notables for almost a century. It’s a rare surviving example of the wood-frame hotels of the late 19th century, is on the National Register of Historic Places but has stood vacant since the early ‘80s.

Although the final bill to the taxpayer surpassed $4 million, the effort to save and restore this glorious piece of history was worth it. I took the tour and I am thrilled with the result. Where walls have been moved, evidence was left in the ceiling to serve as a reminder. The platform at the top of the stairs offers a stunning view of the Catskills as well as Clinton Avenue.

At the request of the city, RUPCO first proposed renovating the Kirkland in 2001, following a number of would-be developers over the prior decade whose plans fell through.

Stuckey Construction out of New Jersey was the last private firm, to approach the Council to tackle this project. With the success of the Academy Lofts on West Chestnut St, they may have done a good renovation, but not a restoration in this detail. William Stuckey estimated it would have taken his firm "about seven months". Martino and I did ask for an additional review of the Jersey firm because it would have taken public funding out of the equation, but were turned down. We quickly joined the cheering crowd of supporters and have helped with additional funding.

The event attracted dozens of familiar faces: Congressman Hinchey, Senator Larkin, Judge Gilpatric, KHS Super Gretzinger, UC Chair Donaldson, Susan Zimet, Lou Kirschner, Brian Cahill, Glenn Nunan, Ward Todd, Shelly Zimbler, Jon Sennett and most of the Common Council.

A touching moment during the speaches was when Mayor Sottile reflected on the years that his father worked at the Ratskellar and the memories of he and his mom & dad shared his dinner hour break. The years of hard work his dad put in to support the family and the chance to bring him back to the renovated structure again. Dad was in the audience.

Kevin O'Connor indicates that only one of seven apartments has been leased so far. Jonathan Sennett Esq. has taken one of the offices and no restaurant has finalized any contracts as of yet.


Anonymous said...

Have to give you credit, Mike--in the room of suit and tie and formal dress Dems you were the one who presented a look of informality--10 O'Clock shadow and all--make that a 3 AM shadow--but me boy, the "Ratskeller", while not exactly the "original name"-- failing your own spellcheck performance, may well describe what politics is and has further deteriorated into in this fair city.
("Run-on?" Other grammatical issues?)

Mike Madsen said...

I hadnt shaved that day. The crazy schedule I had, I was lucky to clean up and change before the 4pm gathering.

Im just a working guy on the council who likes getting my hands dirty in the real world. This usually gives me a different perspective on things when discussing legislation, and usually gets me into trouble.

Leave the dreamin to poets, lets get some work done.

Anonymous said...

Crazy if you ask me. Leave it to politicians to build an office building and restaurant where there is no parking. Brilliant!!! Won't be long before this 4 million dollar building becomes a homeless shelter or low income housing. But wait, then we would have go make sure there is parking.