A myth about the Historic Preservation Commission, reportedly accepted by at least one member of the current Common Council, is that the HPC rarely grants certificates of appropriateness to projects that come before it. As a regular observer of the HPC, I can attest that the truth is exactly the opposite. The HPC rarely denies a certificate of appropriateness. That's not to say the HPC approves everything as a matter of course. If it did, it wouldn't be doing its job. Instead, the members of the commission work hard whenever needed to help applicants reconcile their plans with the standards of historic preservation. In some cases, although they are rare, that isn't possible. Such a rare case is before the HPC now, and there will be a public hearing about it tomorrow morning at 10 a.m.
In November 2016, the HPC approved the changes proposed for 302-304 Warren Street.
Together with 306 Warren Street, 302-304 Warren Street is to be a luxury hotel, with four suites at 306 Warren and seven rooms at 302-304 Warren. The alterations to the facade of 306 Warren Street were approved by the HPC in December 2016.
In December 2017, more than a year after the design for 302-304 Warren Street had been approved, the applicant was back, requesting an amendment. He wanted to add a decorative detail to the windows of the Greek Revival building to make it relate better to the Italianate building next to it. He had used as a model for proposed detail similar ornamentation on a house just down the street--a house that is an example of Italianate design. Members of the HPC maintained that it was inappropriate to add an Italianate detail to a Greek Revival building. It was pointed out that the diversity of architectural styles in Hudson--where you can find examples of Federal, Queen Anne, Greek Revival, and Second Empire architecture all on the same block and a Gothic Revival mansion just down the street from a row of Italianate townhouses--was a unique characteristic of the city's architecture and what was being proposed was the antithesis of that.
In December 2017, the application was withdrawn. The owner decided to come back with a new proposal, but in April 2018, he was back with a somewhat more ornate version of the same proposal. Confessing that he had "a certain passion" for the window trim, he was hoping to persuade the HPC to grant a certificate of appropriateness. The HPC decided it would hold a public hearing before making a decision. The ornamental detail has already been installed, with the HPC's blessing, at the back of the building, facing the courtyard.
The public hearing takes place tomorrow at 10 a.m. at City Hall, after which it is expected the HPC will decide on the issue one of its members described as "a matter of competing values": protecting the integrity of the building's architectural design versus the building owner's ability to decorate it.
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