Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Chasing the $10 Million

Last night, there was another public meeting to gather information and input in Hudson's bid for $10 million in Round Two of Governor Andrew Cuomo's Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). 

The part of Hudson from the river's edge to Second Street has been defined as the target neighborhood for the DRI. Guiding the development of Hudson's DRI application is a list of priority projects that would be pursued if the $10 million were to be awarded to Hudson. On Monday night, Sheena Salvino, executive director of Hudson Development Corporation (HDC), presented a second version of the list of priority projects and sought responses to each item from the members of the community gathered at the meeting. That list appears below. (Click on the image to enlarge.)

The first five items seemed to get tacit approval from the audience, although there were some questions and suggestions, but when the discussion got to "LB Warehouse," Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward), who now chairs the Common Council Economic Development Committee, asked: "Do you want to invest in private property?" He went on to assert, "Investing in private property is not something we should do with public money." Mike Tucker, president of Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) explained that a project like installing solar panels on the vast roof of the LB building could be a project financed by a 80/20 split, with the building owner paying 80 percent of the cost and the public match being 20 percent.

Predictably, the Dunn warehouse, which is listed as one of the priority projects with an estimated "rough cost" of $2.8 million, inspired a lot of comments. Quintin Cross suggested that including it was a mistake because the City could not come to any agreement over what to do with it. Kaya Weidman, co-director of Kite's Nest, expressed concern about spending $2.8 million on a building that in the future, with sea-level rise, could flood. Melissa Auf der Maur, co-founder and director of Basilica Hudson, worried that $2.8 million was too much to invest in the building.

Tucker urged the community to "find some balance," asking, "What can we use the building for that would create jobs?" He noted that the investments the City would make in the building were meant to incentivize someone in the private sector to continue the redevelopment of the building for adaptive reuse.

Kathleen Foley, who is working as a consultant on the application, introduced the catchphrase "resident relevant and visitor viable" to talk about the future use of the Dunn building. "The state folks are very interested in seeing progress on that site," she told the group. "It's up to the city to decide what they want."

It was suggested that the Dunn warehouse and the public pier project (the penultimate item on the list) might be collapsed "as a whole waterfront park re-conception" to create "a more comprehensive picture."

When the meeting had gone on for an hour and a half, Salvino indicated that the information gathering phase of the process would have to end tomorrow, Wednesday, June 7, in order to give the team putting together the application time to do that before June 14 at 4 p.m., when the application must be submitted.  

Salvino stressed, as she has in the past, that the first step, should Hudson be awarded the $10 million, is a public planning process. "State and private sector experts get assigned to us after we win." That planning process is likely to take close to a year. Tucker noted that the planning process for Glens Falls, the city in the Capital Region that got the $10 million last year, was completed only three weeks ago. 

To learn more about the goals of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and the application process, click here. Until the end of the day tomorrow, ideas and comments can be submitted to sheena@hudsonfirst.com


  1. Thirty years and hundreds of taxpayer dollars after mayor Allen's plan to put north dock on the tax rolls, this city needs grant money to do what Columbia county's littoral society did for free.

    1. Correction, hundreds of THOUSANDS of taxpayers' dollars...while betraying the public trust.

      Servants caught stealing should be prosecuted.

    2. Evidently, the $70k spent by the tin boat stewards, to stop mayor Bill's bulldozers, has become a public service.

    3. All true, Joe, but that's where we are.

      Never forget the small satisfaction that the judgement of the Appellate Court against the tin boat stewards included a judgement against the City too: in the 1960s, the City built its Wastewater Treatment Plant on lands owned by New York state.

      And as you first pointed out to me - and curiously this is something nobody is willing to acknowledge - those lands extend south of Dock Street too.

      Don't forget to figure in these lands too in your list of public trust betrayals and giveaways.

    4. Let's see, $70k for McNamee Law, an equal (at least) amount spent by the city, that's $140k. Add $250k in grants and taxpayers are on the hook for $390k just to get the wharf back to where it was five years ago.