Some people have expressed the opinion recently that Hudson needs a good hotel more than it needs more low-income housing. The talk of the Ace Hotel Group buying the Pocketbook Factory and Marina Abramovich taking over the St. Charles Hotel calls to mind that six or seven years ago, there were a couple of plans for boutique hotels in Hudson. Tivoli architect Peter Sweeny had a plan to build a hotel at the southwest corner of Fifth and Warren streets, and Richard Cohen was all set to convert his building at the northeast corner of Fourth and Warren streets into a luxury hotel with a swimming pool on the top floor. So why is it that we still don't have a hotel?
The lot at Fifth and Warren, previously owned by Hudson Development Corporation, ended up being sold to Eric Galloway in 2006 instead of Peter Sweeny, after a legal tussle that saw once and future city attorney Jack Connor (2006 was during the Tracy administration) representing Galloway because Galloway's regular attorney, Mark Greenberg, was representing Sweeny et al. Since he has owned the lot, Galloway first proposed a plan for a massive building that combined mall-like commercial space with market rate housing, then the ill-fated Starboard project, but the lot remains empty except for the American Glory food truck and its umbrellaed picnic tables.
A comment yesterday from a reader drew Gossips' attention to 402 Warren Street--the building we all thought would be a hotel by now. In 2005 and 2006, Cohen appeared several times before the Historic Preservation Commission with plans for transforming the building into a hotel. His first plan featured New Orleans style balconies that extended out over the sidewalk; his second plan involved a new building at 406 Warren Street, with a zig zag wall and a perpetual waterfall. Neither design was ever approved by the HPC, and there was some indication at the time that Cohen may have engaged a new architect to come up with yet another design.
To date, the only visible progress at this site has been to demolish the historic building at 406 Warren to clear the way for new construction. The demolition occurred in December 2006, and it is still a sore point for preservationists. Although the HPC had never granted a certificate of appropriateness for the demolition, Peter Wurster, code enforcement officer, issued a demolition permit, and although the demolition was and continues to be in clear violation of Paragraph 169.9.B of the preservation law ("Demolition shall be permitted only after the owner of the site has submitted and obtained design approval of his/her plans for new development under the provisions of this chapter, including an acceptable timetable and guarantees, which may include performance bonds for demolition and completion of the project. In no case shall the time between demolition and commencement of new construction or lot improvement exceed six months."), more than five years later, no punitive action has ever been taken.
Work, however, continues to be done on the building, mostly, according to Cohen, in places where it cannot be seen, like in the cellar. At the present time, work is being done to the back wall of the building. It seems that the foundation is the primary focus, although it appears that some of the window openings in the back wall are being bricked up. In one of the plans, this area was going to be the hotel's valet entrance.