731 Warren Street The HPC unanimously approved the language of the certificate of appropriateness for the Warren Inn, 731 Warren Street. The certificate of appropriateness was granted on the condition that the stepped parapet on the facade of the building be restored. Now that the "mansard" roof which was added in 1959 has been removed, it is clear that it will be possible to meet that condition.
134 and 136 Warren Street Two weeks ago, the HPC deemed the application for this project incomplete. What is being proposed is a new storefront for 134 Warren Street (between the two porticoes), new windows for the second and third floors, and repairs to the wood clapboard.
The application was considered incomplete because no historic photographs had been submitted. The HPC also requested photographic evidence that the windows, which are wood windows dating back to the 1860s, were beyond repair. Today, all the photographs requested were provided, although the photographs of the windows seemed not to persuade architect member Jack Alvarez, who observed, "I don't see extensive rot on those windows." The applicant stressed that the brand of replacement windows they were proposing was "certified and sanctioned by the National Park Service," not mentioning that the justification for replacing windows in the Secretary of the Interior's Guidelines was that the original windows were deteriorated beyond repair. He also clarified that it was not their intention to use Hardiplank to make repairs to the clapboard. Rather they would evaluate the existing clapboard and will make repairs with wood or "if it is more cost effective" replace all the clapboard with Hardiplank.
HPC chair Rick Rector brought the attention to the proposed storefront by asking, "If the HPC does not permit the creation of the storefront, will you proceed with the restoration of the exterior of the building?" The applicant said he could not answer for the owner but indicated that he thought it was unlikely.
HPC member Peggy Polenberg opined, "I think it's nice to have a storefront there. We need more retail." Rector reminded her that although everyone "would like more commerce," the mission of the Historic Preservation Commission is to protect the integrity of Hudson's historic architecture. Later when Tony Thompson observed that the rest of the 100 block of Warren Street was largely if not completely residential and said he would hesitate to add more commercial space, Rector noted that the building had already been changed, making reference to the storefront in 136 Warren Street, which was added, in its original configuration, probably as many as sixty years ago. "Does previous compromise justify further compromise," he asked, "or do we protect what survives?" The answer for our unique architectural palimpsest of a city should have been obvious to every member of the HPC, but it didn't seem to be.
Rector, who usually prefers to waive public hearings, suggested that a public hearing might be in order for this project. When a motion was then made and seconded to waive a public hearing, Polenberg, Alvarez, and Thompson voted aye; Rector and David Voorhees voted nay. HPC counsel Carl Whitbeck pointed out that four affirmative votes were required to pass a motion--four being the majority of the full commission. So a new motion was made to have a public hearing. There were four affirmative votes for that motion, with all but Polenberg voting aye.
The public hearing on the proposed changes to 134 and 136 Warren Street will take place on Friday, August 8, at 10 a.m.
202 and 204 Warren Street This was the first time the HPC saw the most recent proposal for this building, which has been owned for the past ten years by one or another of Eric Galloway's various LLCs and now by the Galvan Initiatives Foundation and kept vacant for almost all of that time. Six or so years ago, a plan was proposed to convert the buildings into two giant townhouses with commercial space on the ground floor. That plan entailed dramatic changes to the facade, which the HPC rejected, and after much consternation and negotiation, a plan evolved that the HPC could and did approve, but work on the building never commenced.
This past April, Galvan attorney Joe Catalano presented a proposal to the Planning Board to turn the ground floor apartment in each building into a combination of commercial and residential space. At the time, city government was operating under the misconception that the minimum size for an apartment, dictated by city code, was 1,500 square feet, so Galvan decided to abandon the notion of having an apartment on the ground floor rather than having to petition the Zoning Board of Appeals for an area variance. Although the misinterpretation of the bulk and area regulations was finally acknowledged as the error it was in late May 2014, Galvan has not returned to the idea of creating live/work space on the ground floors of 202 and 204 Warren Street. In the plan presented to the HPC on Friday by architect Philip Higby, the ground floors will be exclusively commercial space.
It is for the sake of that commercial space that the ground floor windows on the front of the building are being lengthened by six inches. The change will alter the pattern of the fenestration on a building which was, as Voorhees pointed out, designed by Hudson architect Michael O'Connor, "using very classical principles." Lengthening the windows will require the creation of new windows for those space, but the exact nature of those windows was not discussed at the meeting. Rector commented that he didn't see the point in making this change. Polenberg, however, called it "very minor" and declared that she had no problem with it.
|Copyright 1995 Lynn Davis|
The HDC approved granting a certificate of appropriateness to the project, with Rector, Polenberg, Voorhees, and Thompson voting in favor, and only Alvarez opposed.
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