Friday, November 2, 2012

Selling Off the Assets

A special meeting of the Common Council was held last night to discuss a proposal by the three-member Board of Estimate and Apportionment (made up of the mayor, the city treasurer, and the Common Council president) to close a gap in the 2013 city budget by selling two city-owned properties: the former Dunn warehouse building across Water Street from Henry Hudson Riverfront Park and the vacant lot at Fourth and State streets, where the Fourth Street School once stood. The anticipated revenue from the sale of both properties to be written into the budget is $300,000, but Council president Don Moore said he expected the properties would sell for more than that. (The same amount--$300,000--was anticipated revenue in the 2011 budget for the sale of the Dunn warehouse alone, but the sale never happened.)

Alderman David Marston (First Ward) was first to comment on the proposal. He pointed out that the Dunn warehouse building has "incalculable value to the waterfront" because it was "one of the last remaining historic structures on the waterfront." He expressed the opinion that pressure to sell the building to close a budget gap might result in an unwise sale of the building--a sale that would not bring the greatest benefit to the city in the long term.

Responding to Marston's concern, Moore said that "the purchaser for the Dunn's property should [be one who would] improve the chances of development for the rest of the three acres [owned by the City of Hudson]." He also suggested that the Dunn warehouse be sold with the stipulation that, if the property is not developed within a defined period of time, the City could refund the purchase price and take back ownership of the building. To which Alderman Cappy Pierro (Fifth Ward) commented, "We can't be putting all kinds of stipulations on the property." 

Supervisor Ellen Thurston (Third Ward) warned that "building the sale of property into the budget is a very dangerous thing." Obviously recalling the bitter struggle over the sale of Washington Hose in 2008, Thurston went on to say, "You may feel compelled to sell it to someone you shouldn't sell it to. If a buyer comes along, the City has a tendency to grab at it, even if the buyer is inappropriate." 

Alderman Wanda Pertilla (Second Ward) said she shared Thurston's concerns.

Later in the meeting, Moore responded to Thurston by saying that she seemed to be making the assumption that "we can't do it right." He objected to what he called "the notion that we are throwing things away and won't be diligent in making sure that the public interest is defended." 

At one point, Register-Star reporter Tom Casey asked if the City already had buyers for the properties. Interestingly, instead of simply saying no, Moore said he could not reveal any information about potential buyers.

In another exchange worthy of note, Supervisor Sarah Sterling (First Ward), questioned the strategy of balancing the budget by selling off assets. "What will we sell next year?" she asked. She went on to ask why the BEA was not considering selling the Hoysradt firehouse. Hallenbeck objected to Sterling's suggestion that the Hoysradt firehouse might be sold, declaring that it "goes against the grain of historic preservation." Hallenbeck went on to say, "If we're not willing to protect the one remaining firehouse, all other historic preservation efforts go by the wayside."

Toward the end of the discussion, Linda Mussmann mentioned that Eric Galloway had in the past been a potential buyer for both properties in question. His interest in the Dunn warehouse has been well documented by Gossips. His interest, if any, in the vacant lot at Fourth and State streets seems not to have been public knowledge. 

Gossips Note: Yikes! Galloway's interest in the lot at Fourth and State streets was public knowledge, and Gossips reported on it. Thank you, Prison Alley, for jolting my memory.

At the end of the meeting, Moore asked the aldermen if they had reservations about the proposal to write $300,000 into the 2013 budget as anticipated revenue from the sale of the Dunn warehouse and the vacant lot at Fourth and State streets. None did. It should be noted, however, that aldermen Chris Wagoner (Third Ward) and Nick Haddad (First Ward) were not present at the meeting.


  1. I must state that I am disappointed with the Hudson City Government, all Historical Organizations & the citizens of Hudson, etc. wether you be Hudsonian by birth, choice or in spirit.
    It is time that the last remaining "old or original" building on the waterfront of Hudson be put to better use. But not on the chopping block for future shortcomings or shouda, woulda, coulda as we all state now after the "learning" experience of urban renewal.
    Let's seek & pursue that the building be a start to become a City of Hudson Museum.
    It is the time to provide a place for one to visit that offers up the rich history of Hudson, from Henry Hudson the explorer, Native Americans to the Proprietors, the artists, the architects, the Whalers & shipbuilders, the buildings & the people that have made & make Hudson the best small to live in & to visit.
    Now if only someone could start the process!
    I would be the first to send in a pledge.

  2. Everyone is always waiting for someone else to "start the process." You got an idea? Start it yourself. Come to the Council, speak to the Mayor, get the ball rolling. You need help raising money, come see me. Ideas are a dime a dozen.

  3. Two more parcels toward Gallowayland. There is a HH museum down river some, but a boathouse/restaurant/with a nod to Hudson would be a great beginning for the waterfront. Now, add a Russian room with a sundeck and a few house boats as flotels, and... you really have something great.

  4. Mr. Friedman:
    I would gladly come to help start the ball rolling but I now live in NH.
    But as a former resident of Hudson, born there in 1951 lived there till 2008, all I can offer is my thoughts,ideas, & dreams for a Hudson City Museum.
    I trust that someone as resourceful as yourself can help make a dream come true.
    You are correct in saying ideas are a dime a dozen. The question is what are the ideas of the people, the developer, etc. that may purchase the building & we all miss a chance for what could be the start of something great.

  5. The idea of a museum for the City of Hudson has been discussed many times. A museum and visitor center was proposed as a use for the Washington Hose building at the time of the Quadricentennial in 2008-9. I know that David Voorhees was very interested in seeing the Hudson Library building used as a museum at one time. I also know that Chip Reynolds, captain of the replica ship Half Moon, would be very interested in being part of a museum on the waterfront. As usual, the big thing that stops everyone is money. Are there any developers, who should have run out of historic buildings to buy by now, who might fund such an endeavor?

  6. A restaurant, shops, &c would do more for Hudson than a museum. Hudson is a poor city with an awful lot of property already off the tax rolls.

    What would be in the collection? Aren't most of the historically important documents and artifacts already in the collections of the DAR and the Columbia County Historical Society? Where would the collection come from? Is there a great archive or repository of material that becomes the foundation of a collection? Who will be the curator (if there's no curator, then it's not a museum by definition)?

    This subject has come up on Gossips before. I just don't think that people know how high are the hurdles to creating and then maintaining a museum (as opposed to an exhibition space, let's say). It sounds like a nice idea, but unless it's thought through carefully and is well funded, the idea goes nowhere.

    Hudson has plenty of non-profits. Hudson needs more lively commercial activity.

    -- Jock Spivy

  7. GaLvan's interest, in the vacant lot at Fourth and State streets has been been public knowledge.

    Posted: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 1:00 am
    By Tom Casey
    Hudson-Catskill Newspapers | 0 comments

    HUDSON — Eric Galloway’s Lantern Group has requested to purchase property adjacent to the 401 State Street building from the city of Hudson, Mayor Bill Hallenbeck announced at the Common Council’s Finance Committee meeting Tuesday.

    The group sent a letter to the Mayor’s Office, Hallenbeck said, offering $150,000 to purchase the land which is currently used as a parking lot.
    “I just got this letter today at (3 p.m.) and tomorrow there could be another,” he said. “I just want you to know it’s out there, it exists, and it’s real.”

    The land sits in front of the area where Lantern had proposed to build the Civic Hudson police, court and housing complex. Fifth Ward Supervisor Rick Scalera, who works as an associate for Galloway’s GalVan Initiatives, said the city should move on the offer.

    “The lot at Fourth and State would still be parking provided at no cost and it is on the tax rolls,” he said. “That is a win.”

    Common Council President Don Moore had a brief argument with Scalera over whether the city should take its time with the decision.

    “The council will have to be cautious about this,” said Moore. “We still don’t know about the status of the Civic Hudson Building, there is no need to rush into that.”

    1. Thank you, Prison Alley! I'd forgotten about this.

  8. Thanks to Gossips,this information,like the great coverage above,
    was brought to public attention in following post.
    Gossips of Rivertown
    Wednesday, June 20, 2012
    More, More, More About "Civic Hudson"
    "At the Common Council Finance Committee meeting last night,

    Mayor William Hallenbeck presented a letter he received from Eric Galloway's Lantern Organization,

    offering the City $150,000 for the vacant lot at the southwest corner of Fourth and State streets.

    Tom Casey has the story in today's Register-Star: "Lantern eyes city parking lot."

    Rick Scalera, perennial mayor of Hudson turned "special adviser" to Galloway's Galvan Initiatives Foundation,

    is reported to have urged the City to "move on this offer."

    Common Council President Don Moore advised caution."

    this is me writing.
    $300,000 for both those proprieties ,
    because of the waste and ineptitude of the handling of our tax dollars,
    is beyond short sighted.
    What right do a handful of"City Officials" have to give away Our City property like that?
    It is absurd.Those properties are fine as they are.One is empty and the other is in no danger of being demolished.
    They have great value in the the future for Our City.
    Both those properties for 300,000?
    This" City" needs audited,seriously and made accountable
    Look at property assessments and property and school tax exemptions.
    Start with some "City Hall" members.
    Sweetheart deals for companies,that don't pay their share.
    For $ 150,000 for Dunn warehouse will "City" officials give them a PILOT too?

    Are these sales open for public bid?
    If not ,WHY NOT?
    How about looking for $300,000,in rethinking an affordable Senior Center.
    Where did Moore ,magically come up with 180,000 of our money for an elevator?
    How much was wasted on on all those studies and designs,that are now
    of no use,being so ridiculously over budget,lowest bid $533,240 over
    on top of 780K,before cost over runs

    How much was that new Fire House,Water Treatment Plant. over budget?
    Where is the $80,000+ ,the taxpayers fronted Kim Singletary ,for Demolishing cc Club?
    Why did the City ,think it was in a financial position to give that kind of $ break,to Columbia County Courthouse bldg.permit fee?

    I could ask these questions for days.

    Just go find the $ 300,000 and leave OUR land alone,for OUR future.

    1. To be fair, Don Moore said at last night's meeting that he expected the two properties to sell for more than $300,000. I guess I didn't make that clear enough. He also talked about having the properties appraised. When the Dunn warehouse was appraised in 2011, when Eric Galloway made his proposal to buy the building and make it a restaurant, the City got an appraisal, which set the value at $325,00. And during the Civic Hudson moment, Galvan offered $150,000 for the lot at Fourth and State streets.

  9. Appraised by who?
    Anthony Concra's Real Estate/Appraisal Company?
    or one of Galloway's? Does Crawford and Associates do appraisals ,too?
    $150,000 for corner property of State and 4th Street,
    which strategically helps keeps Galloway from starting some other "homeless "incarnation ,
    from having parking across from elementary school, and getting closer to ZBA approval..

    and $325,000 for Dunn Ware House on OUR water front,is still a ridiculous number.

    Leave them be, as an investment for our City, not for some politicians temporary position of power,to give away
    What time wrap are they in? For a 300k gap?That's it.

    The City just got a low bid for a tiny Senior Center building,shoehorned into a parking lot next to Youth Center for $1,313,24

    I go by what I paid for my house, my taxes.
    Galloway picked up ex Library for some 400K.
    That's less than than the Worth House was asking in 2006
    What did Galloway pay for the Register Star Building?
    For any of his recent purchases,that didn't go on sale to public?

    How much are we paying the Police Dept?One third of our property taxes?
    My absurdly high School taxes ,with no school children,for a School District ,that came out at bottom 82nd out of 84 in Albany District ?

    Close the 300k budget somewhere else .Start by cutting WASTE

    Quit giving everything of OURS away ,to entities, who do not pay City Taxes.

    Hudson is coming back ,if "they"would let it,as something new and vibrant,organically
    by individual business's,homeowners and private sector investors.

    Property values, jobs can come back.
    In its own time, while persevering its heritage and history.
    Which how Hudson will become
    a place that could be economically sound.

    And it doesn't need GalVan's "help".
    It doesn't need anymore bulldozers.
    This "City" is so myopic."Their" view of the future, is no further than their own wallets
    and pensions,we get to pay, be it ,City or State.

    Like I said.
    Just go find that 300k
    somewhere else,without giving away what's OURS.
    "City" has had no problem coming
    up way more cash than that
    for thier own" pet "projects.

    1. The renaissance Hudson has enjoyed for the last 25 years is from individuals seeing her potential through new hope and vision.
      It's weird that the 'powers that be' are blind to this and continue on the path of a vision of poverty, Even penalizing the positive growth with recessive property taxes as a form of punishment.
      While the richest citizen gets to play unimpeded with his vision of more poverty on a scale Orwell never imagined.

      We need another vision that helps our town instead of butchering it away into oblivion for the chosen few.

      But this has been said many times before by many concerned citizens who actually love and care for Hudson and her future.

  10. Mr. Moore states that "the purchaser for the Dunn's property should [be one who would] improve the chances of development for the rest of the three acres," and everyone accepts the statement at face value.

    But whose idea was it to "develop" the acreage across from the park anyway? Was it something in the Vision Plan, or was it only another puzzle piece of Roberts' LWRP?

    If the former, can't we revisit ideas from eight or more years ago? If the latter, have we learned nothing?!

    I haven't spoken with anyone other than Roberts herself who grasps the meaning of each component within her plan; meanwhile the public seems uncritically accepting of the outlines for "development" as Mr. Moore sees fit.

    What's wrong with this picture?

    For the record, I see a different and necessary use for the city-owned acreage next to the Dunn building.

  11. The city can save $300K, and possibly more, by purchasing 750 Union Street, for the senior center for $399K rather than the budgeted $735K, much less the proposed $1.3M (low bid). This building would make for a perfect senior center, needing only an additional bathroom.

    1. It's important to remember that all but $130,00 of the $780,000 the City has for the senior center is grant money. It cannot be repurposed to buy a building without the consent of the granting agency.

    2. Then the leadership of Hudson should get the consent of the granting agency - if they really want a seniors center AND not to gift the Dunn building.

  12. Let's imagine that Galvan purchases the "Dunn" buiding (at one time Hart's Garage for a small trucking/delivery co.)& also the acreage north of the buiding.
    And let's say Galvan then hires the Vincent Benic Architect firm that Galvan has hired for the Armory Library.
    Now visit the Vincent Benic site, click on projects, click on community & select the waterfront project for Oyster Bay.
    Would a similar scaled down site be acceptable for Hudson?