Friday, August 7, 2015

What Can Done With the Dunn Building

In a meeting that lasted for an hour and a half on Wednesday evening, representatives of Saratoga Associates presented the findings of the feasibility study on the Dunn building, one of the last surviving industrial buildings on Hudson's waterfront. Someone who had attended the presentation on July 1, which had not been open to the public, told Gossips that a lot of work seemed to have been done since then, and all the comments made at the earlier presentation had been heard and incorporated into Wednesday's presentation. At the end of the ninety minutes, some (publicly) used words like exciting and great to describe the concepts presented, others (privately) chose the adjective generic.

Throughout the presentation, the building's potential role as a catalyst for further development on the waterfront was stressed. The vision for that further development involved more buildings to be constructed north of the Dunn building, between Water Street and the railroad tracks, not dissimilar to the row of buildings envisioned two decades ago by the 1996 Hudson Vision Plan.

For the use of the building itself, three options were considered:
  1. Mixed use retail and office space
  2. Broadly defined public space
  3. Hospitality market--boutique hotel or restaurant
The third option was dismissed because it was judged that the building was too small to be a hotel and too big to be a restaurant, and since "retail is how you will get activity there," both options that were presented involve retail spaces.

Option 1 involves dividing the north part of the building into three retail spaces--one of which might be a cafe--and dividing the south part of the building into two floors. The building is 24 feet from the floor to the roof trusses, so could be done without creating floors with undesirably low ceilings. In Option 1, the lower floor would be used for some undefined "assembly" purpose, and the upper floor for offices. This option, with a second floor, would require an elevator, which would be housed in an addition on the south side of the building.

Option 2 also has three retail spaces--one of which could be a cafe--in the north part of the building and leaving the south part as one big "assembly" space.

They spoke of the need to "ease the curve [from Broad Street to Water Street] and get Water Street farther away from the building." They spoke of such traffic calming strategies as "bumping the curbs out and carrying the [sidewalk] paving across."

Fans of the crane that now sits on the east side of Front Street alongside the ADM spur will be gratified to know that the conceptual design for the building site incorporates the crane, featuring it as object of industrial sculpture.

No specific uses were the building were recommended. The possibility that the Hudson Sloop Club might occupy some of the space was mentioned a couple of times, as was the idea that one of the retail spaces could be a kayak rental. The building's use as an aquarium was mentioned once, in passing, as was the possibility of it becoming the site of a farmers' market. They stressed that it was up to the City--the mayor and the Common Council--to decide how the building would be used and advised that the City not sell the building but "begin talking with potential partners."

The cost of Option 1 (with two stories and an elevator) was estimated to be $4,250,674. The cost of Option 2 was estimated at $3,566,851.


  1. The Dunn Building should become the focus of the new waterfront - replacing the present 'private boat club' through eminent domain (like the Fugery) and host all things boat related. This building should become the gathering place both social and historical and present for those who love boating on the Hudson River.

    We already lost the opportunity to host the Halfe Moon - yet another centerpiece for a waterfront for ALL.

    The present private boat club building can be transformed back to the ferry site it originated as, reconnecting the communities along the Hudson River ... our heritage.

  2. When the Hudson River surges, does the Dunn lie within the flood plane?

    1. It does. As we've seen after Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy, the Dunn building gets surrounded by water, although as yet the water has never actually gotten into the building. The issue of sea level rise was discussed toward the end of the meeting. If you are curious about what was said, see John Mason's article in today's Register-Star:

  3. I couldn't make it to the meeting to voice my greatest concern, which is availability of parking space.

    The empty lots immediately northeast of the Dunn building must be retained for parking.

    Whenever City Hall talks about grassing over these lots to create more lawns, you should smell a rat. It's just green-sounding p.r. which actually dovetails with nefarious, anti-environmental plans south of the Colarusso - formerly Holcim - yard.

    The plans for a parking field south of Colarusso's are detailed in the 2011 LWRP and GEIS; very specific plans for which the NYS DEC has already expressed environmental concerns.

    It follows that in the Machiavellian minds of city leaders, justifying the LWRP's anti-environmental scheme to the DEC will require a loss of parking space around the Waterfront Park.

    City Hall and the Common Council have repeatedly proven themselves to be untrustworthy and dishonorable when it comes to the environment. Decreasing parking space at Water Street is more of the same, but they'll achieve it incrementally by promising more lawns to the unwitting public.

    I hope that my environmental creds precede me, especially when compared to the unrelenting cynicism of city government. Who would believe anything that comes out of City Hall?

  4. from the register-star, the "toxic vapors coming out of the ground will be routed to the outside of the building".....
    are you kidding me? the city spent 32 thousand dollars for a sears Christmas catalog? that's all this presentation is, a big maybe wish list and did we not learn anything about toxic on Railroad Ave? for 32 thousand dollars you can have Ringo Starr perform in the gazebo down there.

  5. In my opinion, this new plan is missing two crucial things, additional (much more) river access and parking.

    It was men of vision using steel, that severed the county from its shore...

    The Ferry Street bridge could extend all the way down to the RR station, giving Amtrak passengers an upper level parking lot and a roof for inclement weater. That would also add parking for a County wide boat club. The club would stay high and dry and have a better view of the river. More importantly, from there its members could look down on the Power Boat club, who's members now look down their noses at others.

    Second, Rrick's Point could easily be converted into a place to slip from shore into the Lady Faithful, the State slip just isn't capable of handling the existing demand, let alone any more.

    Steel is relatively expensive compared to 1850. It could now be used to reconnect county citizens divorced from shore. What is missing now is vision. A vision of returning to county residents easy access, while reaping all the tourist dollars Hudson's shore can draw.

    1. The State has already rejected Rick's Point as a site to relocate the State boat launch. That's why we have to make due with the present location. (And is there really so much waiting there, compared with the long waits at boat launches on Long Island?).

      Or the city can move the launch south of Colarusso's and end up wrecking that area too.

    2. Unheimlich, who said relocate? Can't the city/county have its own additional launch?


  6. Catskill has many a slip, why only one for Hudson?

  7. State laws cannot deny public rights to use navigable rivers:Gibbons v Ogden,22 U.S.1(1824) (state laws cannot deny public rights on the navigable rivers of the nation, due to the Commerce Clause and the Supermacy Clause of the U S Constitution.)

    The problem with Hudson: its council looks for excuses to deny public rights in order to profit by controling river use, insted of promoting it "to the fullest extent possible,," which is their duty to the citizens they attempt to rule rather than govern.

    1. There is no position which depends on clearer principles than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this would be to affirm that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves

    2. The above is from federalist # 78.

    3. This is exactly what the Common Council did when it decided in a Resolution that attorney Whitbeck's interpretation of the national NPDES policy would override the interpretation of the highest NPDES authority in the nation.

      Of course the public is superior to all of them.

      (Concerning that "relocation" of the state boat launch, I believe you're right. Now that I recall, I think the state said no in relation to parking. But a problem for the state isn't necessarily our problem. Good catch.)