Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On the Waterfront

At the Common Council meeting on Tuesday night, Kevin Walker presented plans to turn the old Dunn's warehouse, across Water Street from Henry Hudson Riverfront Park, into a "bistro styled" restaurant and bar, with 200 tables on two floors and in a glass enclosed atriumBefore the presentation began, Gossips managed to snap a picture of this rendering of exterior elevations and interior space use.

In introducing Walker, Council President Don Moore called the topic of Walker's presentation "a particularly exciting project," adding that "even before we have gotten completion of the LWRP, we are making the kind of progress we want to make." 

In his presentation, Walker explained that "back a few months ago," he and Eric Galloway had a discussion with Moore and Mayor Rick Scalera about how to get private investment to stimulate development on the waterfront. Galloway expressed his willingness to "take a risk" and make a commitment to the waterfront, and Moore and Scalera agreed that a restaurant would be the "ideal catalyst to future development."

It seemed on Tuesday that yet another Galloway "group" has been created to carry out this project, joining the trio that already exist: the Galvan Group, the Historic Preservation Group, and the Lantern Organization. The new group is called "Warren Street Partners." When asked by Third Ward Alderman Ellen Thurston who made up the Warren Street Partners, Walker indicated that Warren Street Partners was essentially the same as the Galvan Group. At fact, as Gossips later learned, Warren Street Partners isn't a new group at all. It's simply a name change for the Galvan Group, which, if memory serves, used to go by the name Liehtan. 

Warren Street Partners is proposing to purchase the former Dunn's warehouse building from the City of Hudson for $250,000 ($50,000 less than the $300,000 that was written into the 2011 budget as income from the sale of the building) and to invest $2 million in renovating it. They anticipate that, after they have entered into a deal with the City and have approvals from the Historic Preservation Commission and the Planning Commission, the project will take eighteen months to complete. The building will then be leased to a chef or someone already in the restaurant business to establish and operate the restaurant there.

Thurston asked who the architect for the project would be and was told that they were working with "Charlie" Vieni. But Charles Vieni is not an architect; he's a structural engineer.  He's the structural engineer who's recommending that the front wall of 211 Union Street be rebuilt as a brick "veneer" over a new interior wall. He also worked, as a structural engineer, on the renovation of the buildings that make up Club Helsinki in Hudson.   

For a little levity at the end of the presentation, Scalera asked Walker if there was any way they could work some columns into the design for the building, explaining, after the requisite laughter subsided, that he had asked the question for Gossips' benefit.

For another take on the presentation and the project, see Lindsay Suchow's article in today's Register-Star: "Eatery planned for waterfront."

9 comments:

  1. 200 TABLES?? Really? That would mean that anywhere from 400-600 people could be seated at one time, not counting the people at a bar or other places in the establishment.

    Seems like a very high number to me, but then I'm not in the restaurant business. 500 people at dinner at this place would equal almost 10% of the population of Hudson...

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  2. That's what the man said: 200 tables. Presumably some of this space might not be used every day. The second floor might, for example, be a private dining room. And the point of waterfront development is to attract people from elsewhere to Hudson.

    I agree, though, that this sounds far too big. How you can serve haute cuisine when you have to turn out hundreds of meals in a few hours' time?

    Does anyone know how many tables there are in the dining room at Mohonk Mountain House? That's the biggest dining space I can think of at the moment.

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  3. How many "projects" does Mr. Galloway need before we realize it's all talk ? There should be a limit on how much property one person can own in Hudson conditional on the state each property is in. I watch The Evans Mansion at 412 Warren continue to have major woodwork rotting and falling off the building. Too many of his other properties lie vacant.
    He was gifted THE prime corner on Warren Street and it sits and sits and sits. Yet we are all excited about letting him have this piece too ???
    But the mayor is happy - so now I'm even more suspect !

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  4. OK, 200 tables at the new restaurant.

    To put that figure in perspective: the Oyster Bar in Grand Central, which is one of the most heavily trafficked locations in the country, and which has probably 90 seats at its counters (not tables), has 450 seats.

    450 seats probably translates into what, c. 125 tables (at 4 seats per table)?

    Unless this is going to be an event space that's booked a lot, there just is no way that Hudson will support a restaurant to serve that many diners.

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  5. I'd love to see this project happen, as it will go a long way toward marginalizing the cementoids from Switzerland and the graveloids from Connecticut who plan to make a mess of our waterfront. An active Basilica and a new restaurant in immediate proximity to the Holcim property is the best thing that could possibly happen.

    However-- it's critical that if the City goes ahead with this deal, there are some performance standards included in the contract with the developer Eric Galloway that insure that there is follow-through, and the project gets put on the front burner and gets completed within a reasonable time frame. The danger here is that the building gets "warehoused" and nothing happens for years- that would not be an acceptable outcome. And also-- the City needs to insure that Mr. Galloway does not flip the property to any of the industrial interests, who would not hesitate to use it for parking dump trucks and other equipment which does not belong on the waterfront near our new park.

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  6. Peter--You've asked some good questions. Last night a memorandum outlining the terms being proposed by the Warren Street Partners was distributed to the Common Council and members of the press (among them, me!). Two of 13 provisions seem to address your concerns:

    5. Escrow: The Purchase Agreement will contain a provision requiring the Purchaser to deposit $25,000 in an escrow account and to be paid to the Seller in the event the property is not developed within the time frame set below.

    6. Construction Completion: The Purchase Agreement will contain a provision allowing the property to revert to the Seller for an amount equal to the Purchase Price in the event renovation of the building is not completed within 24 months of Purchaser's receipt of all approvals and/or permits to proceed with construction work.

    I don't see anything in the terms of the proposed purchase agreement that prohibits them from flipping the building to someone else before construction even begins, but perhaps the Seller (i.e., the City of Hudson) will see that it's added to the final purchase agreement.

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  7. There is an archived recording of the meeting at www.wgxc.org.

    So, projected is "100 to 200 tables"... the parking issue comes to mind. Customer traffic, both by foot and wheel management comes to mind. Either TPTB have no clue, or have a particular larger plan, I'd like to know more about that vision.

    It does sound like Warren Street Partners is willing to pay a little more than the $250K, ... with the potential value in the future value of a vibrant waterfront, that sounds fairly inexpensive at the moment, even with a projected $2M investment in this bar/restaurant.

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  8. I am posting this on behalf of a reader:

    Good Lord! I can't believe the "City Fathers" are once again falling for the b.s. of Galloway and his partner Kevin.

    He just keeps presenting all these proposals and does nothing. Just look at the property he owns that is vacant and he shouldn't be allowed to keep on doing this until he fixes up the property he owns. Furthermore, he keeps on changing the name of his "group." The whole thing is utterly ridiculous and Kevin is good at getting computer-generated architectural drawings.

    When someone wants to purchase city property there should be required a history of their previous purchases and what the track record is. Does the developer actually carry out the proposal, in what time frame is it completed, where the funding comes from, etc. to try and prevent these people from buying up property then doing nothing with it.

    I was surprised at Linda Mussman's remarks--thinking it's such a wonderful idea. Can't she see what Galloway is doing??
    MH

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  9. the anticipated seating discussed in the presentation was probably overstated. the renderings appear to show no more than 26 or so tables on two floors with a an area that looks to be a bar. the configuration seems to be similar to the seating at several local eateries on two levels or 2 dining areas.

    am sure many details need to be worked out and revisions made but seems like a very positive and progressive step in the right direction for the waterfront revival.

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