Thursday, July 12, 2012

Galloway's Other Project

Eric Galloway's Civic Hudson Project, which like the market at Fifth and Warren is a project of the Lantern Organization, came before the Planning Commission last night for a second time, presented this time by attorney Joe Catalano.  

Not much new information about the project was provided. We now know that the architect for the project is Tony Shitemi of Urban Architectural Initiatives, which, judging from Shitemi's comments, has designed several buildings for the Lantern Organization. It's still not clear what will be on the first two floors of the building, but we know the third and fourth floors will have a total of 34 studio apartments, 17 on each floor, and each apartment will be a little more than 350 square feet.

Although this facility has been described as the Tier 3 accommodation in the three-tiered scheme being worked out with the Columbia County Department of Social Services and the entity calling itself Civic Hudson Emergency and Transitional Housing (CHETH being a collaboration of the Galvan Initiatives Foundation and the Mental Health Association of Columbia and Greene Counties), it was described for the Planning Commission as "low- to moderate-income housing . . . subsidized but not transitional," which is a "specific allowed use" in an area zoned R4, which the corner of Columbia and Fourth streets is. The intended tenants of the building were described as "formerly homeless people referred from local agencies" in Hudson and Columbia County. When asked about services, Catalano explained that they would be "available, but not on site"--a distinction apparently that allows this building to be classified simply as "low- to moderate-income housing." Staffing the facility will be a resident superintendent, who will live in a one-bedroom apartment on the second flour, and a "tenant service coordinator," who will be there 35 to 40 hours a week. 

The project requires several variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals: for lot coverage (the building will take up something like 85 percent of the lot), a fourth story (zoning allows a maximum of three stories), setbacks on all sides. Parking is also an issue, since there is no space and there are no plans to provide offstreet parking. Mike Welti from Behan Planning and Design in Saratoga Springs, who did the parking study for the Hudson Arcade Project, also did the parking study for this building. In the case of this building, he analyzed the onstreet parking available within 1,000 feet of the building and determined there were 100 spaces available. Since they are assuming that few of the tenants of the building will own cars, they anticipate that no more than seven spaces will be needed for the tenants, one for the superintendent, and 53 for people employed in the remainder of the building, the use of which has yet to be determined. They concluded, therefore, that there was ample space on the street for parking. 

When Planning Commission member Laura Margolis asked why it was assumed that the people living in the building would not have cars and questioned how they could be expected to find employment and better their lot without a car, Galvan attorney Mark Greenberg explained, "If they get to the point where they have a car, they will want a bigger apartment." 

The Planning Commission determined that this project required a public hearing and tentatively scheduled a joint hearing with the Zoning Board of Appeals for August 15.


  1. Seems that the lack of on-site services (counseling, etc.) is in contradiction to the CARES study recently released which investigated the root causes of chronic homelessness in the county and specifically calls for collocation of on-site services with such housing as this plan (as described) calls for. It's flawed if this is the case and they should be clear, call it transitional housing and apply for a variance. Otherwise it's just a money-making business that warehouses the chronic homeless without the services they need to be mainstreamed.

  2. If this housing is aimed at high cost Medicaid users (as in chronically homeless due to mental illness, drug addiction, alcoholism) then it doesn't meet the criteria for onsite supportive services. On the other hand, the housing may be intended for homeless singles who are not chronically homeless and who meet the criteria for housing stability. The potential tenant would go from shelter or a doubled up situation into permanent subsidized housing. Having developed and managed about 1,500 units of the latter the biggest problem encountered was the single tenant moving someone else in with them which then caused lease and management problems.

  3. With the bottom two floors still unspoken for - allegedly the real purpose for this building - requiring parking and height variances - OF COURSE - this doesn't bode well for positive economic growth for Hudson.

  4. I am suffering from Galvan fatigue. In a major way.

    This is a battle on many fronts, and people with any sense and a brain in Hudson just don't seem to have enough troops to muster up to fend off this serious threat. Hudson is under a serious blitzkrieg-like siege. Such an event historically leads to denial and paralysis and helplessness among the population that is to suffer from such an assault. There now exists a collective apathy which rests on the logic that no matter what this group does or does not do, Hudson is charging forward despite the activities of this very strange, mercurial and unfriendly group. Are we all supposed to surrender, kowtow, fakely smile, agree to disagree, all that horsesh**, just because this group is connected, powerful, organized and very rich?

    What do Lantern, Galvan, Galloway, his partner, and his minions want? Do they want to improve Hudson? Restore it? Gentrify it? Or do they want to bring in more social services and more volatile, at-risk people who need the rest of us to bail them out? Is this supposed to help the businesses on and near Warren Street which simply did not exist fifteen years ago? Do these people want to ruin Hudson and bring it back to the dire days of the late '80s and early to mid '90s? Is there more money to be made by doing that, than by allowing Hudson to organically flourish without more anti-growth impediments? Nothing makes any sense, unless you allow yourself to let your mind drift to the worst possible conclusions.

    The introduction of two new government housing projects in our city by people, who are concurrently building new private residences and restoring some of our most important historic buildings in our city (perhaps beautifully, perhaps not so great/accurately historically) flies in the face of logic and normalcy. (Side note--the roof of the old Jewish community center, which Galvan just restored and upon which Gossips commented on in another post, is expensive slate (well done) but the color evokes an Escalade or a high end spa in central Long Island).

    Except for a radio show appearance and some grants to a wide variety of Hudson organizations, I have never witnessed Lantern, Galvan, the principals of such entities, or their representatives, engaging with the community to see what the rest of us want, or have to say. Is there a game-changing economic benefit that Galvan and Lantern will reap by constructing addditional government housing? Are Swope and Scalera compensated for their efforts? If so, is that compensation so compelling, that they, too, will sell out the rest of us? Will we ever know?

    Doesn't Hudson already have its fair share of government housing and social service agencies? Or, are we supposed to provide every bread and circus for Columbia County by allowing further construction and introduction of very debatable facilities? Would Kinderhook or Germantown or Spencertown or Old Chatham accept the construction of transitional housing or "supportive" housing for homeless and formerly homeless people within their boundaries? Is Hudson just a dumping ground for the entire county?

    But since I am suffering from Galvan fatigue, I too just throw up my arms and sigh like the rest of you.

  5. @ Observer.I have been writing and warning and living with this threat..and now its here.It will stay here.Why isn't Helsinki ,and Etsy weighing in,Musica.? River Studio? I know why TSL isn't.Another Galloway shill.,but the Elementary school?The neighbors?The buissness people working hard to improve 7th street Park? The New Preformane Center at the old Tennis Club,that the County menatlly Ill shelter is directly behind,separated only by Long Alley.?Have those people been given a heads up?Is it just sheer overwhelment and deer in the headlight syndrome as you describe?Don't people get these are 30 yr deals that Lantern makes to get tax breaks and grants. .Galloway is obsessed. He was told NO on Warren & 5th with his Starboard project and apparently ,he doesn't like that.He has been hell bent on shoving this disaster on so many levels,down the throats of the citizens of Hudson ever since.Try after try after try,til he finally did it.
    The only way now to stop him ,is to block the Zoning and Variances Hard to do ,when the whole damn city is in his pocket ,in one way or another,or just relieved it did not get built next to their house or business..Do they think these troubled imported SRO homeless inhabitants ,will be on leashes?
    I find it evil,especially because this "helping the Homeless crap,is supposed to make anyone who opposes this ,some inhumane Nimby.
    So NIMBY about that empty apt.buiding on 5th and Union that Galloway owns.Why not there? Its allready built.Think that would fly? Not a chance on the Southside . How about on Michael Court where Scalera and his crew live in the 5th ward.? What BOS from any other town is going to vote no,don't build this in Hudson,come destroy our little town?
    A family shelter for women and children at the top of Warren was shot down so fast ,as the worries for new property owners and new resturants ,was the main concern.Oh Yeah,3rd Ward.

    but the Northside,well just look what they have already done to the Northside.No big voting block there.the poor and those on the dole.Immigrants ,afraid to cause any waves at all.Ex-cons.Clueless new homeowners from civilized places?
    The Hiring of ex headchair of Historic preservation,Art dealer and realestate broker for Galloway,Tom "handle " 'those kind of folks'"and the second hire ex -multiterm Mayor Scalera -who is currently on BOS as 5th ward rep .to"handle '"City Hall' and strong arm the rest,was an effective and transparent team to run this goat rodeo.
    Didn't BOS 2nd ward Hughes rep and minority leader ,just smile for the camera's excepting a check from Galvan?Didn't Scalera ,no conflict of interest there,just tell Common Council to sell the parking lot that wasn't for sale to his employer's at GalVan at State St and Long alley,for their suggested price of 150k?that would mean GalVan would own right to the street,and their little parking problem solved?
    Of course homeless ,unless they have been living in their cars -don't have one.
    And like Galvan lawyers say-if the get well enough to own a car ~it's time to move on. These shelters"apt" are for permeant single homeless that are mentally ill/and or ,chemically dependent/and or HIV/ qualify for Lantern's highest pay pre head from government~that would be our money~programs. .You get better -you will be replaced by the most desperate again.
    parking problem solved.

  6. My worst fears for Hudson,I'm afraid are about to come true.
    This is an excerpt I wrote here on Gossips right before I had to leave town on June 27th.

    "Now this diversion of Furgary,is just what GalVan needs.They are steps away from signing a 30 yr deal for possibly over 70,imported, permanent,single Homeless with major issues brought into the North side,if GalVan gets both sites approved.First up,looks like with the County,Mentally Ill, Homeless on State St. directly behind ,new performance space at Tennis Club and 7th St.Park and BOS Scalera, also employee of GalVan,no conflicts of interest there,will no doubt be coaxing that along.People can not keep track of all this.My eyes are on Galloway.This is my home.He is a real threat,financially and to quality of life."

  7. I agree with Observer that "collective apathy" does seem to have set in. I laughed out loud when I read that Galvan was giving out grants to local nonprofits at the same time an ad hoc committee appears to have rubber stamped Galvan efforts to provide housing and services to the homeless. Slick timing. Mind you, I don't doubt that Galloway and Van Amerigen want to provide housing and services to the less fortunate among us. Galloway does that in NYC and VanAmerigen makes grants to nonprofits which do that. That is a good thing. But doing good and being a smooth operator who knows how to work the system can often cause tension. While a former Mayor of Hudson who works for Galloway and the present Mayor of Hudson who says he would give Galloway the key to the City of Hudson (think about it) appear to go out of their way to ease Galvan's entry into the social services world in Hudson/Columbia County there are also citizens who are troubled by Galvan proposals. Why are they troubled? Could it be that Galloway has made a number of missteps along the way, that his representatives are often publicly uninformed, flip, arrogant, and thin skinned in the face of criticism? Could it be that Galloway, who owns numerous properties in Hudson and, therefore, is a major player, has not been clear about his intentions except through pat mission statements? Could it be that done deals in Hudson are also pretty standard? Probably a combination of local politics and people with money and/or personal wealth riding into town with big dreams. This can work for good but the lack of transparency and the arrogance on the part of people attached to Galloway turn citizens off and leads to "collective apathy" for what appears to be a done deal. The homeless should not be the issue here. Keep your eye on the dogooders.