Eric Galloway's Civic Hudson Project, which like the market at Fifth and Warren is a project of the Lantern Organization, came before the Planning Commission last night for a second time, presented this time by attorney Joe Catalano.
Not much new information about the project was provided. We now know that the architect for the project is Tony Shitemi of Urban Architectural Initiatives, which, judging from Shitemi's comments, has designed several buildings for the Lantern Organization. It's still not clear what will be on the first two floors of the building, but we know the third and fourth floors will have a total of 34 studio apartments, 17 on each floor, and each apartment will be a little more than 350 square feet.
Although this facility has been described as the Tier 3 accommodation in the three-tiered scheme being worked out with the Columbia County Department of Social Services and the entity calling itself Civic Hudson Emergency and Transitional Housing (CHETH being a collaboration of the Galvan Initiatives Foundation and the Mental Health Association of Columbia and Greene Counties), it was described for the Planning Commission as "low- to moderate-income housing . . . subsidized but not transitional," which is a "specific allowed use" in an area zoned R4, which the corner of Columbia and Fourth streets is. The intended tenants of the building were described as "formerly homeless people referred from local agencies" in Hudson and Columbia County. When asked about services, Catalano explained that they would be "available, but not on site"--a distinction apparently that allows this building to be classified simply as "low- to moderate-income housing." Staffing the facility will be a resident superintendent, who will live in a one-bedroom apartment on the second flour, and a "tenant service coordinator," who will be there 35 to 40 hours a week.
The project requires several variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals: for lot coverage (the building will take up something like 85 percent of the lot), a fourth story (zoning allows a maximum of three stories), setbacks on all sides. Parking is also an issue, since there is no space and there are no plans to provide offstreet parking. Mike Welti from Behan Planning and Design in Saratoga Springs, who did the parking study for the Hudson Arcade Project, also did the parking study for this building. In the case of this building, he analyzed the onstreet parking available within 1,000 feet of the building and determined there were 100 spaces available. Since they are assuming that few of the tenants of the building will own cars, they anticipate that no more than seven spaces will be needed for the tenants, one for the superintendent, and 53 for people employed in the remainder of the building, the use of which has yet to be determined. They concluded, therefore, that there was ample space on the street for parking.
When Planning Commission member Laura Margolis asked why it was assumed that the people living in the building would not have cars and questioned how they could be expected to find employment and better their lot without a car, Galvan attorney Mark Greenberg explained, "If they get to the point where they have a car, they will want a bigger apartment."
The Planning Commission determined that this project required a public hearing and tentatively scheduled a joint hearing with the Zoning Board of Appeals for August 15.