Friday, May 11, 2012

Report on the HPC Meeting

At the last meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission, on April 27, there were no applications before them for consideration. Two weeks later, on May 11, there were six. Gossips will report on them all.

City Hall Doors DPW Superintendent Rob Perry made a request for a recommendation on his plans to replace both sets of front doors at City Hall. He is proposing replacing each pair of doors with a single door, 42 inches wide, positioned to one side,  with a glass panel filling in the remaining space. The HPC recommended that ideally the original wood and glass doors should be reproduced or salvaged doors similar to the originals be installed. Architect Michael Davis, who was there to present his own projects, volunteered to look for salvaged doors like the originals. If finding or creating doors that resembled the original doors was not possible, the HPC recommended that the single door be centered in the space with glass panels on either side to respect the symmetry of the building's design.

347 Warren Street The only permanent element of the "food truck enclave" and hence the only element requiring a certificate of appropriateness from the HPC is an open covered porch to be built at the back of the existing building for the outdoor beer and wine garden. The proposed structure will be a corrugated metal roof supported by four salvaged columns. Michael Davis, the owner of 347 Warren Street, described the columns as "stone columns, loosely Corinthian and mid-19th century, from India." The HPC determined that the proposed structure would be compatible with the surrounding properties and directed counsel, Cheryl Roberts, to prepare a certificate of appropriateness for the project. 

13 South Third Street Michael Davis, owner of 347 Warren Street, is also the architect transforming the former Verdigris building into a space for a new restaurant for Zak Pellacio, founder of the Fatty Crab and the Fatty 'Cue. The proposal involves adding two fireplaces and the requisite chimneys; altering the entrance, which is currently not code compliant; enclosing the current carport at the back of the building for kitchen space. The HPC determined that all the proposed changes were compatible with the surrounding area and agreed to have counsel prepare a certificate of appropriateness for the project.

900 Columbia Street HPC member Rick Rector called the Galvan Initiatives Foundation proposal to move 900 Columbia "a noble and admirable act," and all present agreed. The Mental Health Association is determined to demolish the building; they have steadfastly resisted all efforts to persuade them to spare it. Code enforcement officer Peter Wurster reported that "MHA is ready to put a shovel in the ground" for their new facility, and when it is completed, they will demolish this building, which dates from the early 1830s, to create a parking lot. The HPC requested a site plan for the house's new location on the 200 block of Union Street and historic documentation supporting its appropriateness to the new site and, contingent upon receiving this information, asked counsel to prepare a certificate of appropriateness. Tom Swope, executive director for the Galvan Initiatives Foundation, said they wanted to "restore [the building] to Greek Revival," but that's an issue for another time. 

When the HPC had completed their deliberations, Mayor William Hallenbeck, who was present at the meeting, chided them for lack of enthusiasm, saying that the proposal to move 900 Columbia Street, thereby saving it from certain demolition, should have been given a standing ovation.

Robert Taylor House The proposal to move 900 Columbia Street may not have met with enough overt enthusiasm from the HPC to satisfy Mayor Hallenbeck, but the proposal to move the Robert Taylor House, also from the Galvan Initiatives Foundation, met with no enthusiasm or sympathy at all. First the HPC enumerated the reasons why the application was incomplete: no mention made of demolishing the west wing of 25 Union Street in order to fit the house into its new site; no information about whether or not the intended site was ever built on before; no material relating to the house in its current site; no site plan for the new location; no justification for the claim that the house was in danger of demolition.

HPC member Scott Baldinger described the proposed move as "improving an area that is already in good shape and taking away from a neighborhood that needs help," calling it "ghettoizing the best houses." HPC member Rick Rector offered the opinion that "restoring the house in its present location could be a catalyst for [neighborhood] improvement." An audience member who lives near the house and identified herself as a native Hudsonian asked, "Why do you want to destroy our history?"

The HPC discussed asking Swope, who was presenting the proposal, to resubmit a complete application and contemplated holding a public hearing, but Swope objected. "If your tenor is to reject it, you can do it now without putting me through all this." The HPC accepted his suggestion and unanimously denied the project a certificate of appropriateness.

Hudson Arcade Project The proposal to convert the structure at 449 Warren Street, which was built to be a Cumberland Farms shop, into an appropriate space for Filli's Fresh Market proved problematic. Although HPC member Tony Thompson reminded his colleagues that "what the building is going to be has nothing to do with this commission," some members of the HPC were clearly torn between their support for a grocery store and their reservations about the proposed design.

Thompson called the "ugly cinder block building" a "more honest building" than the one being proposed. HPC chair David Voorhees observed that "it is not Hudson Valley vernacular style." Jack Alvarez, the architect member of the HPC, said the proposed building "looks like suburban Virginia." HPC member Phil Forman characterized the proposal as "taking a plain, modern thing and making it faux old." Alvarez identified the lack of a cornice and the scale and placement of the columns as shortcomings of the design.

Swope asked the HPC to reject the proposal. His strategy in making this request seemed obvious. If the HPC rejected the proposal, he could appeal to the Common Council, and the Council, although enjoined and obligated by law to judge the proposal on the same criteria as the HPC, would likely overturn the HPC's decision.

In the end, it was decided that the HPC would hold a special workshop meeting on Friday, May 18, at 1 p.m., at which time Alvarez, at least one other member of the HPC, and Roberts would meet with Swope and the architect for the project to critique the proposed design and identify changes that would make it more compatible with the surrounding buildings and enable the HPC to grant a certificate of appropriateness. The HPC agreed to the special workshop to expedite the process, since the market is hoping to open in October. 

For another take on Friday morning's meeting, see Tom Casey's report in the Register-Star:  "HPC approves 1 house move, rejects another." 


  1. My complaint with the proposed design for the building at 5th & Warren is the lack of windows on the east side. That solid brick wall is way too grim. Otherwise, it's a heck of an improvement on that miserable structure that sits there now. Hopefully it will be approved after a few tweaks.

  2. That empty corner needs to be filled out to stop the DMZ of Warren Street.
    Warren Street, being Hudsons commercial district, exhibits her historical pride in architecture, the best of all periods.

    This proposed building for the center of town is shocking in its lack of anything historical or architecturally interesting.

    Of all the new construction Eric Galloway has erected in Hudson this has got to be the least imaginative.


  3. If GalVan really wants to emulate The Doris Duke Foundations approach,
    and are clueless as to what to build at 5th and Warren,
    I would suggest investigating the early pictures of Warren Street and duplicate one of the many fine examples of Nantucket Architecture that have since been lost.

    Now wouldn't that be a proud feather to wear in GalVans cap!


  4. Please Hudsonians don't miss out on a great opportunity to have Filli's in your City.
    A short drive & visit to their Calverack Food Market is your proof.
    So here's my recommendation for the building.
    The store front should be similar to others located along Warren St. A glass front that informs the public what the business offers.
    The columns appear to hide what the store has for sale.
    Maybe the solid wall is needed for interior reasons such as an aisle with shelving for groceries, etc. Could the 2nd story could have windows?
    The exterior solid wall area could be used for a row of tables & chairs if it is safe to allow for parking too.

  5. Two things. 1.Filli's Food Market is one of the very best markets in Columbia County - Old Chatham Country Store is another.
    Please consult Jeremiah Rusconi for proper door/s for City Hall. He is an expert in every detail of historic restoration. The Architect's suggestion is not restoration but his opinion.

  6. Can I talk anybody into putting hotel rooms over Filli's Food Market ?
    I'm sure an agreement will be reached and we soon welcome Filli's with open shopping bags.

  7. It's unfortunate the every available space in town has to be viewed as another spot to erect a building. Seems to me, in the age of global warming, some trees, grass, benches and a few tables would be a better use for undeveloped lots and demolished houses. I suppose the human race is doomed, since this seems to be the prevailing attitude worldwide.

  8. I think the removal of 900 Columbia Street to make way for a parking lot is a disgrace. The pleasant facades of the old buildings in that block help the exit and entrance from and to Hudson proper and now it will be a gaping ugly blacktop hole. Galvan is to be commended for trying to save the house at least but the County Mental Health whatever it is, is not to be commended - the mental health of some residents will be greatly disturbed by the loss, especially mine.