Saturday, August 2, 2014

Public Hearing Prep

The Historic Preservation Commission has scheduled a rare public hearing on the proposal to introduce a second storefront into the building at 134-136 Warren Street. The public hearing will take place next Friday, August 8, at 10 a.m., at City Hall. In the run up to that public hearing, Ferol Barton Blake, the designer of the proposed storefront, is circulating an email appeal, encouraging people to attend the public hearing and arguing for the appropriateness of the proposed alteration. The message, which reproduced below, is accompanied by this rendering of the building.

Dear Neighbor/1st Ward Resident: 
I am writing in hope that you can be present at a public hearing on *August 8th @ 10am concerning 134/136 Warren Street. 
This property is already zoned commercial, the only thing in question is whether to allow the alteration to the structure to allow the proposed storefront design.
The structure has been altered several times since it was built in 1820, in 1860 the Mansard roof was added and 2 over 2 windows & portico, later a storefront was added on  the 136 side and that storefront has been altered several times over the years.
The structure is need of repair / and the tenants rented to have been problematic over the years, the property owner has finally decided to step and repair/update/upgrade the structure. Part of that plan was to add a storefront to help offset the cost of the restoration/renovation.
I realize the Historic Preservation Commissions mission is to decide what structures should remain "intact" as they are, however I do not believe that this structure is of such "Historical Importance" given that it has already been compromised/altered over the years.
As our city grows, how do we balance economic growth with preservation? I think I designed a compromise with respect to existing architecture while allowing the property owner to offset cost by potential storefront and support economic growth of the city.
The proposed Storefront is sympathetic to the style of the structure and what 1860 Storefronts would appear, with setback entrance and flanking windows.
I hope that you can attend and let your voice be heard, whether for or against, but I would ask you to consider how do we grow as a city, create and foster a "thriving community" while respecting our architectural heritage?
In a city like Hudson, where the architecture is remarkable for its palimpsest quality, making decisions about appropriateness is a difficult and delicate thing--much more so than many people who have served and who currently serve on the HPC appreciate. Tom Swope, who chaired the HPC from 2008 until the beginning of 2012, once said, matter-of-factly, that it was always appropriate to return a building to its earliest configuration--even when there is no pictorial documentation and the original configuration could only be deduced. A consequence of such an attitude is usually the elimination of elements that are themselves historic, having been part of the building for more than a century. 

Similar to the attitude that condones stripping away historic fabric to return a building to its original design is the opinion that once a building has been altered, it no longer has "historic importance," and there should be no impediments to further alteration. That sets the bar for historic preservation impossibly high. By this argument, only buildings that have survived through time meticulously preserved and unaltered deserve the protection of historic preservation. Few buildings in Hudson--indeed, few buildings in the United States--meet that criteria.

The question of whether 134-136 Warren Street is or is not of historic significance, however, is really not open for discussion--at least not as far as the law and the Historic Preservation Commission are concerned. In April 2006, the Common Council passed a resolution creating the Warren Street Historic District, and 134-136 Warren Street is a contributing structure in that district. Prior to that, in 1985, the Hudson Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and 134-136 Warren Street is a contributing structure in that district as well. As a contributing structure in a historic district at the local, state, and national levels, 134-136 Warren Street has the protection of the Historic Preservation Commission from inappropriate development. 


  1. The request for growth / alterations is understandable.
    However, visually the proposed store front clashes with the present design of what exists.
    So I would suggest that if a store front is to be proposed it should match the commercial instillation of Vico.
    Or Vico needs to change their facade to match the proposal.
    The present drawing is offensive in its lack of continuity and sensitivity to the majority of this handsome building still in existence.
    Has a 'mall mentality' unsettling edge.

  2. The proposed design is ungapatsch.

  3. It seems to me if the restaurant facade was allowed with its distortion of the original, this attempt to introduce something classical/symmetrical into the mix is kind of interesting ... if they get the details correct.

    1. Just to be clear. In 2002, when the facade for what is now Vico was created, there was no preservation ordinance in Hudson and no Historic Preservation Commission. It was not an issue of it being "allowed': it was just done.

    2. Carol ... I kinda knew my comment would bring out a correction ...

  4. My little thought is to suggest whether the applicants might consider divided light windows for their storefront windows, which would still allow light and visibility, but harmonize better with the balance of the divided light windows, and indeed the facade of the other store with the red doors, that I find quite attractive myself. Just a suggestion.

  5. Please everyone, revisit a similar request by the owner(s) of 103? Warren in the recent past regarding frontage change request.
    I believe that it is most important to take notice of one of Hudson's largest building & street changes ever to occur other than being caused by fire. That was the 1960's-1970's urban renewal of lower Hudson.
    At that time it was decided & designed, amen, that the 100 block of Warren will maintain its HISTORIC character of existing buildings. Basically, the frontage of those bldgs. have unchanged. Many of the street or 1st floor levels of the 100 block are now retail (art galleries, etc.) and the character of the block remains.
    134 retail, yes. New frontage, no. It's that easy.
    It is common sense. It is HISTORIC.