Thursday, September 19, 2013

What's a Dwelling Unit?

Last night, Per Blomquist appeared before the Zoning Board of Appeals to request an area variance. He plans to demolish the buildings that now stand at 248 and 250 Columbia Street (shown below) and build a new building that will contain five one-bedroom apartments.

Blomquist sees a need for small, affordable apartments for young people--singles and couples--who are coming to Hudson, and his plan would provide five such apartments. When he appeared before the Planning Commission in August, however, he was told by city attorney Cheryl Roberts, counsel to the Planning Commission and the ZBA, that the minimum size for a "dwelling unit," which Roberts interpreted to be an apartment, was 1,500 square feet. The apartments in the proposed building would be just 700 square feet.

Thinking that 1,500 square feet is pretty big for an apartment, Gossips did a little online research this morning to find out about the size of apartments in Hudson. Among the apartments currently available in Hudson are a 700 square foot apartment on State Street and an 800 square foot apartment on Robinson Street--both in the same R-4 Zone as the site of the proposed building. On Warren Street, which is zoned Central Commercial and may have more modest bulk requirements for apartments, there is an 800 square foot apartment in the 400 block and an 850 square foot apartment in the 200 block. On Harry Howard Avenue, in an area that is zoned R-1 One-Family Residential, there is a 900 square foot apartment for rent. The rental space now available that is 1,500 square feet or more is either commercial space or a whole house.

At last night's meeting, the ZBA determined that the application for an area variance was complete and scheduled a public hearing on the project for Wednesday, October 16, at 6 p.m.


  1. When I lived in NYC, I had an apartment that was about 800 square feet. It seemed huge. I was the envy of friends.

  2. Slack-jawed. Does Per understand what hath brought the young people here to begin with? It sure as hell isn't newly built apartments on a truck route.

    The shame wagon continues unabated.

  3. 1500 square feet was the size of our house in Chatham Center.

    LRw/fp, DR, K, BR, Bath, Family room. 2nd.flr; 2Brs, full bath.

    1500s/f - A ridiculous requirement for apartments where tenants would have to pay for heat, hotwater and electricity.

    1. Agreed, Ruth. My house in Hudson has about 1200 square feet of living space and it feels immense. 1.5 baths, what a luxury! Though I guess in the US of A today this is considered the right amount of space for one or two people.

  4. Wow! I don't think "dwelling" should represent "apartment". I've lived in many apartments in my life, and 1,500 square feet of living space can be huge. Cheryl and I lived in a 425 square foot studio apartment for over 20 years together. Cozy, and doable!

  5. My studio apt in NYC was 500 sq ft, and our 1st house on Rossman Avenue was 900 sq ft originally.

  6. David, I don't believe 248-250 Columbia Street is on the truck route, which turns south at 3rd St. Also, the young people may as likely to have be born here as to have 'come here'.

    Blomquist has, I would imagine, researched the feasibility of building 700 sq ft 1 bedroom apts, which seems large enough for 1-2 people.

    1500 sq. ft + restriction seems arbitrary.

    1. Judy: You're right that it is not on the state truck route (although it's very close to it), but it is on the route of the gravel trucks going to and from the Holcim dock on the waterfront. They continue on Columbia Street to Front Street and then go across Front to Broad Street, across the railroad tracks, and into the Holcim facility. They are a real scourge in these post-SLC days.

    2. Judy,

      First, the young people specifically addressed in this post were those "coming here", so my comment should be read within that context.

      Second, when this tax parcel is within feet of the semi-trailer turn onto Third, you're splitting hairs to say it’s not on the truck route; furthermore, gravel trucks.

      But finally, my bigger point here, and really my only point: I find the continued destruction of our architectural heritage shameful.

      In a city with countless vacant parcels, why should we be sacrificing two of the last Early American row houses on Columbia St to something that could be located just about anywhere in our city?

      There isn't a good reason, and highlighting the fact that Location is certainly not the overriding concern for building on this site, illustrates the low expectations our community has for itself, as well as the sustained disconnect we have with the profound role preservation has played in our revival.