Sometimes information can be gleaned at a committee meeting long before it gets on the radar of the general public. The Common Council Economic Development Committee meeting on Thursday night may have provided one of those opportunities.
In her report to the committee, Sheena Salvino, executive director of HDC (Hudson Development Corporation) and HCDPA (Hudson Community Development & Planning Agency), talked about site planning for the former Kaz warehouse at the junction of Cross Street and Tanners Lane. The immediate response came from committee member John Friedman (Third Ward), who pointed out that the warehouse was in a floodplain, and, given the expected effects of climate change on the Hudson River, there would be at least two inches of water there in twenty years.
When Salvino explained that the HDC board had asked her to start thinking about site planning, Don Moore, Common Council president and chair of the committee, suggested that she involve Omni Housing Development, since "we're working with them," and they have "experience doing this sort of thing"--"this sort of thing" being developing affordable housing not designing buildings that can accommodate the expected return of South Bay.
It has been more than two years since we've heard anything about Omni Development and the plan to demolish Bliss Towers and replace it with dozens of duplexes scattered throughout the Second and Fourth wards or perhaps throughout the whole city. In January 2011, we learned that Omni had hired Tim O'Byrne, a site selection specialist from BBL, to work on the Bliss Towers replacement project. At some point in the last two years, Moore commented that the project was having trouble finding enough potential building sites, but no more information has been forthcoming. Moore's mention of Omni on Thursday was a reminder that the plan has not been abandoned, although its current status is unknown.
Interestingly, 248 and 250 Columbia Street, which are soon to be demolished by their owner to make way for a new five-unit apartment building, were on Fourth Ward supervisor Bill Hughes' list of fourteen buildings he thought could be demolished to make way for Bliss Towers replacement units. That was in September 2010. According to tax records, the current owner bought 250 Columbia Street in June 2011 and 248 Columbia Street in July 2012.
If the plan, as presented in April 2010, for replacing the 132 units of Bliss Towers with two-household buildings scattered throughout the city is moving forward unchanged, it should be of enormous concern to the property owners of the city. It will affect the entire city, and it should not be moving toward implementation without the public being made aware of what is happening. The first plank in the Hudson Democrats' 2013 platform, which addresses the staggering property tax burden in Hudson, states: "We support initiatives to increase housing density to help drive down taxes." As originally presented, the plan to replace Bliss Towers, which seems to be an attempt to provide a semblance of the American dream of suburbia in a city with a land area of about two square miles, is the antithesis of increasing housing density to help drive down taxes.
COPYRIGHT 2013 CAROLE OSTERINK