It won't happen anytime soon, but according to Jeff First, Executive Director of the Hudson Housing Authority, the consensus of the HHA Board was to demolish Bliss Towers, which he called a "money pit" and a "maintenance nightmare." First was at the Common Council Legal Committee meeting last night seeking a resolution from the Common Council that would give HHA "site control" on a number of City-owned properties sought by HHA for its new "scattered site" housing units. The resolution would commit the City to holding the properties off the market for eighteen months or until HHA could buy them for "something close to fair market value." Site control is a requirement for a grant HHA is seeking from DHCR (Division of Housing and Community Renewal). The deadline for that grant application is February 2011.
In addition to City-owned properties, HHA is looking at properties owned by HDC (Hudson Development Corporation) and HCDPA (Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency), as well as some privately owned properties. Most of the sites are on Columbia and State streets, but Fourth Ward Supervisor Bill Hughes, who is a great supporter of this project, reported that he'd gone on a reconnaissance mission on the south side of town, from Sixth Street to Front Street, looking for empty and "demolishable" buildings. It was made clear that Omni would not rehab existing buildings; they would demolish them and build something new.
First stressed that the Hudson Housing Authority is committed to replacing all 132 units currently at Bliss Towers, but it is unclear how many of those units would be scattered throughout the city and how many would be built on the current site of Bliss Towers. At last night's meeting, Common Council President Don Moore explained that it was his understanding that all 132 units would be replaced by scattered site housing, and when Bliss Towers was demolished, that site could be used for another purpose. First, however, made it clear that the Bliss Towers site would continue to be used for low-income public housing. Moore then framed two questions that need to be answered but so far have not: "How many units can be built where Bliss Towers is now? How many infill units are needed?" He also indicated that a specific list of the City-owned properties sought by HHA was needed before the Common Council can draft a resolution, adding, "We do need to get this moving."