Sunday, May 20, 2012

Food Markets and the 400 Block

There are those of the opinion that anyone wanting to open a grocery store on Warren Street should not have to "go through the nonsense" of having the proposed building reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission. Because Hudson has been declared a "food desert" by the USDA, a grocery store should be given special treatment. The HPC shouldn't fuss about the building's compatibility with the rest of Warren Street. Food will be sold there, and that's all that should matter. 

Revised design for the building, submitted to the HPC on Friday

Rick Scalera, perennial mayor of Hudson and now special adviser to the Galvan Initiatives Foundation, which owns the building and is preparing it to lease to Filli's Fresh Market, put himself squarely in the camp advocating for special treatment when he brought the market's principals to the HPC workshop on Friday and made a point of introducing them to the members of the commission.  

Then there are those who believe, as HPC architect member Jack Alvarez expressed it on Friday, that the corner of Fifth and Warren is a prominent site on Hudson's main street, and for that reason, any building proposed for that site demands a high level of review. The use of the building should not prejudice the HPC or dissuade it from a thoughtful review of the building's compatibility with its surroundings. Two centuries of Hudson history amply demonstrate that businesses and uses of buildings change, but the buildings remain.  

Although some may want to make it seem so, support for Filli's Fresh Market and support for historic preservation in Hudson are not mutually exclusive. We can have a vibrant mix of businesses on Warren Street--including a grocery store selling a variety of nutritious food at affordable prices--and still protect the architectural integrity and historic character of the street. Those qualities--architectural integrity and historic character--are, after all, what attracted most of the businesses to Hudson in the first place. 

The current situation calls to mind a story from Hudson's past. In the late 1960s, a supermarket chain wanted to demolish virtually everything in the 400 block of Warren Street and Union Street in order to build, in the heart of the city, a supermarket surrounded by a giant parking lot. The plan, mercifully, was foiled by the owners of this stretch of houses in the 400 block of Union Street, who refused to sell their homes so they could be demolished to make way for a parking lot. 

Is there anyone who doesn't shudder to think what Hudson would be like today if that plan had been carried out?      


  1. The notion that the proposed structure should not have to undergo review by the HPC is ridiculous. If we starting granting exemptions to building permit applicants, a very large can of worms would thus be opened. What about a doctor's office, a county administration building, or a bank? These are all essential functions-- are we going to just throw up our hands and excuse them from going through the proper process? I would think by now it would be clear that Hudson's remarkable heritage of historic buildings is not just nice to look at-- it is the cornerstone of our local economy as well. Sheesh....

  2. I hope we can finally understand that our historic heritage can -- and should -- be compatible with basic needs like food markets. Put another way, stupid and ugly are NOT the best ways of selling produce.

  3. Until GalVan buys up absolutely every parcel that comprises Hudson, New York there is no 'special treatment' acceptable from a community of tax paying citizens for this fantasy dictatorship.

    And while you're at it, propose a building plan worthy of the center of Hudsons Historic Business District, within the rules in place that everyone else has to abide by.

    Grocery Stores come and go but this proposed building will remain the eyesore built on the cheap for generations.

  4. The nonsense that I was referring to is that GalVan is proposing a such a design to HPC in the first place. Why waste everyone's time & money?
    Is it that difficult to take a few pictures of buildings that exist on Warren St & come up with a design that is carbon copy?