Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Another Galloway Acquisition

Rumor has it--so far unconfirmed--that Eric Galloway is purchasing the Armory and the two abused houses just north of it. These pictures show the buildings as they appeared in 1939.

The "Armory houses," as they are sometimes called, have a long history of neglect and deliberate abuse. Their owners, who also own the Armory, wanted them gone, because they believed that the Armory, which they had carefully and beautifully restored, had no resale value without a parking lot, and if the houses were not there, they would have a parking lot. Apparently not wanting to incur the expense of demolition, the owners allegedly once proposed to the Hudson Fire Department that the houses be the subject of a "controlled burn." The fire department would set fire to the houses and use the conflagration for training. The fire fighters would have a great "classroom," and the owners would be rid of the houses. The HFD didn't agree to it.

In 2005, the City of Hudson, declaring them "blight," decided to seize the two houses by eminent domain. The eminent domain action, initiated during a Scalera administration, was successful, and the Tracy administration inherited the need to pay the owners something like $95,000 for the buildings with no money in the budget to do so.

In 2006, members of the Common Council, collaborating with Eric Galloway and working with The Grant Writers, came up with a proposal for Round I of the Restore New York Communities Initiative grant program. The grant proposal was for $500,000--enough to make the court-ordered restitution to the owners, restore the two existing houses to something close to what they looked like in 1939, and build a small version of one of Galloway's signature "Greek Revival" town houses in the backyard of one of the existing houses, facing Prospect Street. It was a strong proposal and, in everyone's opinion, should have been awarded a grant, but that year, as one of the Grant Writers delicately put it, the awards were "political," and Hudson didn't get a piece of the $50 million pie

The following year, the city attorney for the Tracy administration failed to submit a document in a timely manner, the houses reverted back to the original owners, the City had to pay something like $13,000 for the owners' legal fees, and the houses continued to deteriorate. The only good outcome was that during the year or so when the City had title to the property, DPW boarded up the windows properly to check the demolition by neglect. 

Assuming the rumor of the purchase is true, one wonders what the Galvan Foundation plans to do with the armory. Is this one of the historic buildings they will "keep in perpetuity for the benefit of Hudson," will this building be used in some way to support local organizations that provide services to the residents of Hudson, or will they maintain it was an antiques center? In the case of the houses, it would be nice if they dusted off the plans created for that 2006 Restore New York grant proposal, perhaps rethinking the design for the proposed new house, since Greek Revival architecture in this neighborhood would be an anachronism.

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