On Friday afternoon, the Historic Preservation Commission held a workshop to discuss the proposed design for 449 Warren Street, the project that the Galvan Initiatives Foundation has dubbed the "Hudson Arcade Project."
When the workshop was scheduled, the plan was that Jack Alvarez, the architect member of the HPC, and Cheryl Roberts, counsel for the HPC, and at least one other member of the HPC would meet with Tom Swope, executive director for the Galvan Initiatives Foundation, and the architect for the project. Today, four members of the HPC, in addition to Alvarez, showed up for the workshop, and Tom Swope was accompanied not by the architect, who Swope explained was in Mississippi, but by Galvan attorney Mark Greenberg and Galvan special adviser Rick Scalera.
At the outset, Roberts informed the HPC that, since more than three members had shown up, they constituted a quorum, and the workshop would be an illegal meeting because it had not been officially noticed. It was finally decided that HPC members Rick Rector and Tony Thompson would participate in the meeting, and David Voorhees and Phil Forman would stay as audience members.
Among the things Swope presented to the HPC today were a rendering of a revised building design, a site plan, and a historic photograph similar to the one above, to prove historic precedent for a building with an arcade or loggia in front. The difference is that the 19th-century "arcades" were not integral parts of the buildings. Rather they were overhangs that existed to protect pedestrians from the elements and perhaps also from things tossed from upstairs windows.
Greenberg wanted to know why the HPC had requested a site plan and later protested when the conversation drifted to parking. Site plan and parking, he maintained, were the business of the Planning Commission. Thompson's response, explaining that "there are ways to use a site that are more in keeping with context and character than others" and that the setback of the building "should continue the streetscape and parking should be kept off the street[side of the building]," seemed not to persuade Greenberg, since he kept coming back to the issue.
Alvarez expressed the opinion that the portico, variously referred to as arcade or loggia, in the revised design "reads more Hudson" than the design originally presented but expressed concern that the new rendering "takes the building out of its context." He stressed throughout the discussion that the building required a "high level of review, because it is a prominent site," at the center of Hudson's main street, and made the point that the HPC should see a street elevation that showed the building and several buildings on each side of it.
The question of setback remained an issue. The building was originally constructed as a Cumberland Farms franchise, with offstreet parking in front, back in the day when preserving the historic integrity of Warren Street was an inconceivably foreign concept. The current building sits 12 feet back from the sidewalk. Thompson repeatedly expressed the opinion that the building should extend to the edge of the sidewalk, as all the other buildings on the block do. Swope called that idea "impractical."
In the revised design, the portico extends 7 feet from the front of the building, bringing the pillars that support the roof of this structure within 5 feet of the sidewalk. At one point, Alvarez suggested that the portico might be extended another 5 feet so that the columns would align with the facades of the other buildings. Rector, however, asked, "Would that take the whole thing out of proportion?"
The application for a certificate of appropriateness will come before the Historic Preservation Commission again at its next meeting on May 25. So far, the materials to be used for the building seem to be certain. The brick will be recycled brick. There will be marble pilasters on the front of the building, similar to those on 260 Warren Street, and the marble will be new marble that appears to be old. The columns will be iron. The windows will have simulated divided lights. The doors will be wood, with lights and "antique looking."