Saturday, July 14, 2012

More Galvan Projects Before the HPC

On Friday morning, the Historic Preservation Commission received four applications for certificates of appropriateness--three of them were from the Galvan Foundation. The first, presented by preservation contractor Ward Hamilton, was for 501 Union Street, the former "Apartments of Distinction."

Hamilton began his presentation by displaying a blowup of the 1893 image of the building shown below, explaining that he had been asked by the owner to restore the cornice and the mansard roof of the building to the way they are appear in the historic picture. He indicated that the chimneys of the original building would be re-created. 

Architect member of the HPC, Jack Alvarez raised questions about the plans for the dormers on the top floor of the building, which are set into the mansard roof. Hamilton explained that many of the questions could not be answered before the work actually began, so it was determined that HPC would give conditional approval, and Alvarez would work with the applicant to make a list of the important details that needed to be included as conditions in the certificate of appropriateness.

The next project, also presented by Hamilton, was 356 Union Street. Again, the work for which a certificate of appropriateness was sought involved replacing the mansard roof. Hamilton indicated that the original slate roof, which he described as a "fish gill pattern," would be replaced with charcoal gray slates, similar to those used on the C. H. Evans House on Warren Street. He explained that the original roof was Chapman slate from Pennsylvania, a type of slate no longer available. Hamilton said the slates now on the mansard roof will have to be removed in order to repair nonvisible flashing, and too much of the slate will be lost in the process, since Chapman slate breaks down after about 80 years.

When HPC member Scott Baldinger asked if the original pattern of the slates, which is a significant design element of the house, could be replicated, Hamilton indicated that the red slate which was used for the rosettes in the roof was still available from Granville, New York, in Washington County, which, according to Wikipedia, has been called the "Colored Slate Capital of the World." A comment from Tom Swope, executive director of the Galvan Initiatives Foundation, disclosed that it was personal preference--that of Eric Galloway--not availability that was driving the decision to use all charcoal gray slate.

The HPC voted to grant the project a certificate of appropriateness "conditional on the strong preference that the decorative elements [of the slate pattern] be retained."

The third Galvan project to come before the HPC was 620 State Street, the former Hudson Orphan Asylum which the collaboration of the Galvan Initiatives Foundation (or is it the Lantern Organization?) and the Mental Health Association of Columbia and Greene Counties is proposing to the Columbia County Board of Supervisors as an emergency and transitional housing facility. Swope sought a certificate of appropriateness to restore the brickwork and to infill the southeast corner of the building, where a diagonal entrance had been added decades ago when that part of the building, Rick Scalera reminisced, had been a candy store he frequented in his childhood. Legal counsel Roberts advised the HPC that they could accept the application as complete, but they could not to rule on it, because the project was subject to the SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act)  process and therefore required a coordinated review by the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals, as well as the HPC. To do otherwise would constitute segmentation. Roberts suggested that Galvan withdraw the application, which they did.

Scalera, presumably in this role as special adviser to the Galvan Initiatives Foundation, outlined the schedule for the project going forward. On Wednesday, July 18, the proposal from CHETH (Civic Hudson Emergency and Transitional Housing) will be presented to the Human Services Committee of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors. If it is accepted by the committee, it will move on to the full Board of Supervisors for consideration. As Scalera summed up the situation, "If it doesn't make the grade on the county level, they're not doing it anyway."

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