There has been a lot of angst about the Restore NY grant for the Dunn building on the waterfront. When the grant was applied for, it was thought of as a way to stabilize the building and arrest its deterioration without making a commitment to its ultimate use. For this reason, people rallied around the effort and gave it their full-throated support. But the enthusiasm waned when Alderman Rick Rector (First Ward), at a meeting of the Common Council Economic Development Committee meeting in January, announced that he had recently learned that "the grant is tied into a developer with a plan in place." This was not something most people wanted to hear--especially not those who recognize that what happens with the Dunn building will define future development at the waterfront.
At the Hudson Development Corporation meeting earlier this week, before the board went into executive session to discuss the Kaz proposal, executive director Sheen Salvino offered some more clarification about the grant and its requirements. She explained that, although the grant is for $500,000, the actual amount awarded is based on a per square foot allocation that is different depending upon the intended future use of the building. Because the Restore NY grant program is meant to encourage economic development, the amount per square foot for a building being stabilized for a commercial use is greater than for a building being stabilized for a not-for-profit purpose. The message seemed to be that before the City can start using any of the money, there must be a commitment to the nature of the building's use--not a specific plan, not a specific developer, but the type of use. Saying it will be commercial would bring in the most money, but if the community should decide, during the course of revising the LWRP (Local Waterfront Revitalization Program), that the highest and best use of the building is not commercial, there could be problems down the road.
The pressure is on for the City to decide how the building should be used. It is expected to be a topic of discussion at the next Economic Development Committee meeting, scheduled to take place on Thursday, March 16, at 6 p.m., at City Hall.
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