Back in the 1980s, when affluence was everywhere and the revival in Hudson was in its most embryonic stage, someone had the idea to build a condominium complex on the hill above the reservoir, at the highest point in Hudson, with commanding views to the east of the city, the river, and the Catskills, and to the west of the cemetery, the quarries, and the Berkshires. Only the first block of three units had been completed when along came Black Monday and the market stock market crash of 1987. Since no one was clamoring to buy the first three units, plans for the rest of the buildings were put on hold.
Moving on to the next decade, in the aftermath of 9/11, the notion that New Yorkers might seek second homes or primary homes in places that were accessible but far beyond ground zero persuaded developers that there was a market for the condominiums first proposed in the 1980s. In 2002, although then city attorney Jack Connor expressed disbelief and some annoyance that a project that had gotten site plan approval almost twenty years earlier could move ahead without a new review, only one thing brought the condo project before the Planning Commission. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation had, in the intervening years, changed its rules about impervious surfaces and storm water management, so the project had to be reviewed again for those considerations only.
In 2003, the construction of the remaining units went forward. Detractors, those who had been drawn to Hudson by its historic architecture and who valued authenticity, dubbed the new complex "Vinyl Village." Defenders of the Olana viewshed were stunned to discover that the condos constituted a greater intrusion into the view from Cosy Cottage than the abandoned Atlas Cement storage silos. People inhabiting the old city below bemoaned the fact that the condos broke the ridge line and spoiled the perfect collar of green that surrounded the city--something that previously was done only by the Oliver Wiswall House on Mount Merino.
|Plans for Phase II|
In a bizarre turn of events, the Rossman Avenue Association's lawyer, Jeff Baker, who had achieved hero status as the attorney for Friends of Hudson during the protracted battle against St. Lawrence Cement, was appointed by the Tracy administration, at the beginning of 2006, to be legal counsel to the Planning Commission, and as a consequence, he could no longer represent the Rossman Avenue residents. At what may have been their first meeting in 2006, the members of the Planning Commission, the majority of whom were Rick Scalera appointees, voted four to three to adopt a negative declaration, thus eliminating a higher level of review, which would have looked at, among other things, the impact of the expanded condo project on the National Register-listed Rossman-Prospect Avenue Historic District and the National Register-eligible Hudson City Cemetery and involved the State Historic Preservation Office. The vote broke similarly on giving site plan approval to Phase II.
As before, not all of the buildings in Phase II were constructed at that time. Only the nine units on the west side of what is called Academy Hill Drive were completed.
The photograph below was taken on Tuesday, July 30, from the cemetery, just beyond the monumental tomb (shown at right) of Fred W. Jones, the man who gave us the railroad through South Bay that evolved into the "causeway."
Either they've decided to contour and landscape the slope between Academy Hill Drive and the cemetery or the construction of Phase II has resumed. If it's the latter, we should probably celebrate the fact that the developers of Mount Ray Estates think the Great Recession of 2009 is over. If they have resumed construction on Phase II, it is not clear at this point if they intend to complete the entire complex or just to build the nine units planned for the east side of Academy Hill Drive--the fourth of what would be a total of five pieces.
COPYRIGHT 2013 CAROLE OSTERINK