Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Acquisition Elsewhere

Although we in Hudson may feel that our little city is the exclusive focus of the acquisitive passion of Eric Galloway and Henry Van Ameringen, that's not the case. A few years ago, there was the news that Galloway had purchased a major house in Garrison. In September 2012, it was noted in the New York Times that a townhouse on East 11th Street, just off Fifth Avenue, had been purchased for $10.6 million by Eric Galloway. Recently, Gossips learned from a reliable source that sometime in 2012, Galloway purchased, for a reported $4.5 million, the Gilded Age mansion in Peapack-Gladstone, New Jersey, known as Blairsden.

Blairsden was the country home of C. Ledyard Blair, the grandson of John Insley Blair, who made his fortune from mining and building railroads. It was designed and constructed between 1897 and 1903. The architects were Carrère and Hastings--the same architects who designed the seven levels of stacks at the New York Public Library. 

An article that appeared on NJ.com last September shares the news that Blairsden will be open to the public, possibly for the first time ever, during the month of May 2014 for Mansion in May, a major fundraising event of the Women's Association of the Morristown Memorial Medical Center. In preparation, high-end designers are decorating spaces in the mansion to showcase their art and their merchandise. Come spring, a road trip to the Somerset Hills of New Jersey and $40 will let you tour the interior and the grounds of this grand historic house.


  1. Is the implication that anyone who opens their home for the benefit of OTHERS should be taken to task for their motives? Or is it about appearances-- a most intelligent question raised earlier this week. What is it we deplore?

    Is it the undeclared motive in purchases that are beyond our imagination? Is it the FEAR of what such inaccessible power elicits?

    Such an interesting dialogue! Why do we care about the purchase of a NJ mansion or a NYC townhouse? Because it is so exciting.. so provocative... Is it relevant to Hudson?

    Although I am not a Galvan hater ( on the contrary- a friend*) I am also curious about the Galvan "Grand Plan" for Hudson but I am very disturbed by the vitriol that is directed at our fellow citizens. Could it be a question of "seemliness"? Will the citizens of Hudson come after me because I have far too many shoes, or black sweaters, than is deemed "appropriate" for a woman of my age? Or too many books? Do I entertain too much, or too little? Do I love dogs too much, or cats not enough?

    Eric and Henry appear to have large resources. They are buying a great deal of real estate in Hudson which as far as I know, is still legal. If I had the money I would have bought "the block" across the street from me- I don't / I didn't/ they did.

    The comments about boarded up buildings, and the time limits on unimproved lots in our small city, seem totally appropriate. However Galvan properties are not the only offenders - should we out all the others?

    Questions are our prerogative.. I am curious too - but I also think that Galvan is under no obligation to answer... except to our laws.

    *My not for profit organization for high potential girls in Hudson- Perfect Ten is a recipient of Galvan Grants, as is the ROSE WINDOW fund at the First Presbyterian Church where my husband serves as a Friend.

      Your husband Phil Foreman is the treasurer of your "Perfect Ten".,that has received substantial grants from Galvan. [see galvan foundation grants http://www.galvanfoundation.org/grants ]and also as President of Friends of First Presbyterian Church has recieved from Galvan , monies for restoration of stained glass window.currently.
      Certainly nothing wrong with any of that, except by LAW ,as voting member of the HPC ,he needs to recuse himself from discussions and voting on any Galvan projects,for obvious reasons. Yet he is the most vocal defender of all things Galvan along with Peggy
      Polenbergh,a HPC member,appointed by Hallenbeck,who brokers Galvan properties.,publicly They are not alone on this, on HPC. 5th Ward County Supervisor Scalera and Gavan consultant is very vocal during HPC as he discusses back and forth with HPC members and new HPC City Atty,"Giffy" his old assoc.,prior to a vote,
      to push for quick approvals of Galvan projects.
      A lot of "unseemly" intimidation and groveling is on display, if anyone would bother to attend such meetings.
      At least at Planning Board, two people,Laura Margolis and Cleveland Samuels, appropriately recuse themselves,as one has received grants from Galvan for her theater org. and the other work directly for Galvan.One would hope by code of ethics, that anyone who works for ,or one's foundation or non-profit group that are directly gaining financially from Galvan would automatically recuse themselves.
      There are many others that should also do the same,in Common Council, the Mayor's Office, Municipal Corporations and Agencies.
      They don't. There is no oversight committee here. One would hope through conscience they would take their oath to serve the best interests of the people,seriously but since they do NOT...There ARE laws about this:City and State

    2. Bravo, Prison Alley.

      This morning I phoned the NYS Commission on Public Ethics (CPE) for advice.

      When considering conflicts of interest, it is important to learn about the lobbying activities of Galvan and all related foundations.

      When I used the CPE search engine (address below), I couldn't find any associated lobbyists who are officially registered with the state. (I may have had a hit with the "Lantern Foundation," but suddenly I needed Internet Explorer to review any results, so I can go no further.)

      Next thing to lean: what are the requirements to have to formally register as a lobbyist?


  2. You're right. Nothing to see here. Just obscene inequality of wealth.

  3. Paula, I'm the individual who raised the question about "seemliness."

    I don't wish to be understood as being anti-wealth. I am the opposite of the faddish leveling impulse we see everywhere nowadays. I have no interest in the estates anyone has purchased elsewhere, nor have I read this particular post. I nearly missed your comment.

    (I suppose I should find out if the mansion in the post belongs to Mr. Galloway, so I can congratulate him for not cutting down all of the trees.)

    But to look on Galvan's purchasing pattern and volume within the City of Hudson, it's entirely fair to be offended by its lack of proportion. Many things are legal which are still unseemly.

    Buying a sweater is nothing like buying a block of houses, let alone several blocks. The analogy between buying shoes and buying chunks of a community doesn't work.

    I own a house here and this is my community. A pledge to my neighbors: Galvan will never get our house.

  4. doth the lady protest too much me thinks ?

    gossips is merely commenting on the activities of two citizens who live in hudson and have opened a foundation here to help the poor.

    obviously they have alot of money. they spent 15 million on two houses out of town, and millions here. its an interesting story.

    hudson is alot poorer than far hills new jersey or the west village in new york.

    the senior people of hudson need a senior center and the children and the general populace need a new library. the city is still a poor town. hudson is poor. obviously you arent.

    what the people of hudson want is a senior center and a library. the townspeople and teh government have spent endless hours hearing about the Armory project.

    what we dont understand is why the people of hudson are supposed to come up with the 2.78 million dollars to build the center for the galvan foundation. we dont have the money.

    the people of hudson have to write to the galvan foundation to ask them for the money. we need the center. we need the money. they have it and have made a huge effort to say they are going to help. are tehy really ?

    we dont want to hear endless newspaper stories about fantasy giving projects where nothing is given.

    people here are poor but not stupid.

    galvan has the resources to pay for the Armory project and the people in hudson would be happy to see it happen. and appreciative. and thankful. and so would their grand children.

    in rich america, everyone has everything - in fact they have too much of everything. in poor america, they dont have a library or a senior center, or anything else. or a community garden even.

    how about helping the poor by giving them a rebuilt armory. and really giving them the armory soon ?

  5. We all know not "to bite the hand that feeds you".

    The point is this: Eric Galloway is spending his partner Henry's money on an orgy of real estate acquisitions, in Hudson, and it seems, NYC and NJ, but not on the mission his foundation espouses, helping the poor of Hudson. Perhaps this is prudent estate planning. Perhaps it is something more.

    The resources available to Eric Galloway are not being spent on maintaining or rehabilitating most of the housing stock he owns in Hudson. The Library and the Senior Center, which Eric Galloway's foundation is supposed to renovate and open for use in the Armory by the Fall of 2014, appear to be nowhere near completion. Yet his orgy of acquisitions go on and on and on. Is there an intention? That's not the right question. The question should be: is this activity a form of mental illness? Similar to hoarding? Akin to megalomania?

    Mr. Galloway may not be "the only offender" but he certainly is the most expansive offender if you simply count all his vacant and dilapidated buildings throughout the city.

    Defend him all you like, but you will find yourself in a rather lonely corner, perhaps with an old time local politician or two and a couple of real estate agents.

  6. Galvan purchased the building formerly owned by my car mechanic, who was already going out of business. A month later I was hugely inconvenienced by the loss of this particular mechanic, but I was happy for him that he was able to sell his property.

    Finding a new mechanic takes time. You have to build trust. I'd been to Van Kleeck's three times since Harmon closed, and now Van Kleeck's is gone.

    The first sale was only disappointing for the loss of my mechanic of years. I didn't resent either Galvan or my mechanic.

    But the sale of Van Kleeck's was precipitated by an enticement. Galvan seduced a business with which I was building a relationship, even to the point of dependency, into closing its doors and putting people out of work.

    Legal? Sure, congratulations. But it's the opposite of community building. It's a distortion of what it means to be engaged in concrete relationships, the result of neither having nor knowing connection. The enticement of Van Kleeck's to sell to these hoarders finally fits my personal definition of the obscene.

    This is Pottersville. Avoid being owned by these people who live nowhere and everywhere, and who know no particular place.

  7. Living in the bubble of denial?
    Gossips should be congratulated on reporting and tracking Mr. Galloway’s acquisitions and projects; astute journalism, investigating a pattern of actions that unmistakably and disturbingly equate with previous business projects in New York City. His actions in Hudson need to be closely tracked. Our City’s government officials and related Boards need to be challenged about their decisions to allow all of Mr. Galloway’s projects to proceed without explanation of purpose of development. If his “plans” will change neighborhoods and affect other economic factors within the City, they should be stopped. The Boards that are supposed to represent our best interests are now peppered with appointees that either work for Mr. Galloway or are the recipients or related to recipients of his judicious and well planned “contributions”. Prison Alley’s reference to conflict of interest is spot on, and a finger on the pulse of what is going on here.

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  9. The rub here is that $15,000,000 was spent recently by Galvan on property outside of Hudson while approximately 150 Hudson apartments owned by Galvan remain boarded up obviously not for the lack of funds.

  10. I have been acquainted with Hudson for forty years and seen it through its ups and downs and its many reincarnations. As someone looking to buy a second home in Hudson with the intent of moving there permanently in the future, I have read -- and commented on -- the doings of Galvan over the past couple of years especially concerning their forays into providing housing for the homeless. I have become concerned with the furious pace of acquisitions of Eric Galloway and Henry Van A, and the real and perceived ethical lapses of their staff and consultants. Their grant making venture came at a time of poor public relations for them and was aimed, in my opinion, to put a sheen on their image. They do make many small grants to worthy nonprofits but many are for "general support" which generally cannot be measured for outcomes. As a former Program Officer at two large national foundations I have to wonder if Galvan is an ATM or an organization truly invested in change. Had Galloway and Van A made their grants through an independent body such as the United Way I would have been more comfortable with their gift giving. Hudson is a very small town and Galloway/Van A and their minions are sucking up the little air space that exists there. I keep a constantly updated list of their properties with the intent of avoiding a purchase anywhere near them.

  11. Let me add to my comment. Many small family foundations operate the same way as Galvan -- small or no staff, a consultant or two, small grants, etc. But those small foundations do not acquire numerous properties in their grant making territory nor do they come up for repeated issues around integrity or ethical considerations as does Galvan. The Galvan trio: extraordinary property acquisition; real and perceived ethical issues; a foundation sprinkling money around to keep people happy rather than seek innovation and change -- is unusual and it needs to be watched.