Developer of former Woolworth building in Kingston at odds with NY Historic Preservation Office over façade

KINGSTON, N.Y. >> A partner in the group that wants to open the Kingston Food Exchange in the former F.W. Woolworth building on Wall Street says a state agency is insisting the storefront’s pinkish granite façade be kept in place or the project could lose $2 million in tax credits.

Zach Lewis said Monday that the façade is “more than just ugly, it is atrocious,” but that the state Historic Preservation Office has determined the granite was put in place in the 1950s or 1960s and must remain.

Lewis said he and his partners in BBG Ventures want an exposed-brick façade to enhance the character of the Uptown building. The granite “has got to go,” Lewis said. “We really do not want to keep it. ... It has no place on Wall Street.” But “they (the Historic Preservation Office) are adamant that we keep this,” he said. A spokesman for the Historic Preservation Office could not be reached for comment Monday.

Lewis said he and his partners believe, but so far have been unable to prove, the façade was added to the building later than the state office says. He’s asking that anyone with photos of the building taken during the 1950s or 1960s email them to him at

The food exchange proposal is to be back before the Kingston Planning Board when it meets at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 13 in City Hall, 420 Broadway. BBG Ventures first proposed the Kingston Food Exchange in late 2015 and had hoped to have it open by now, but the process has been slow. A new 18,000-square-foot roof had to be been installed, asbestos had to be removed from the roof area, and mold remediation was found to be necessary.

The plan calls for spending $6 million to bring the vacant space back to life as a center for healthy food, complete with a 9,000-square-foot organic grocery and a small café. Up to 12 vendors would rent space from BBG and operate on the main floor, while the basement would have commercial kitchen facilities for rent and an area for on-site fresh cooking.

Lewis has said one goal is for much of the food sold at the business — including vegetables, fruits and meets — to be “locally sourced.” Lewis’ partners in BBG Ventures are Ben Giardullo and Brad Beckerman. A company called 311 Partners, owned by Lewis’ father, Hugh, purchased the 35,000-square-foot Wall Street space for $475,000 at a bankruptcy sale.

Woolworth operated in the building, which is at 311 Wall St. in the Uptown Kingston business district, from 1956 until early 1994. In the years after the store closed, the space was occupied at different time by the party supply store Sav-On and the records management firm Medrex. The building is believed to date to the 1880s.

Photo Source: http://The Daily Freeman

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