Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Future of Fourth and State Streets

Up until 1994, the Fourth Street School stood at the corner of Fourth and State streets.

Now the space once occupied by the school is owned by the City of Hudson and is used by Columbia County as a parking lot.

More than ten years ago, the City was willing to let the County use the space in exchange for "developing" it as a parking lot--asphalt, landscaping, that sort of thing. Although no development of any sort has ever occurred, the County is still using the space as a parking lot, and it isn't clear if the County is compensating the City in any way for the use of the space.

Back in November 2012, the Common Council decided to close a gap in the 2013 city budget with "anticipated revenue" from the sale of this property and the Dunn building on the waterfront. For better or worse, neither of those properties was sold in 2013. The City seems to have closed the budget gap in some other way.

At last night's informal Common Council meeting, a resolution was introduced to sell the property at Fourth and State streets. The resolution was the initiative of the mayor, who outlined the reason and goal for selling the property in this way:
WHEREAS, the subject real property at the corner of 4th Street and State Street is surplus property that is no longer needed or desired for any public purpose of the City of Hudson, and
WHEREAS, there is a need for quality housing in the City of Hudson for those seeking to remain and/or relocate to the City of Hudson, and
WHEREAS, sale of the subject surplus real property at the corner of 4th Street and State Street, with a condition that the highest bidder at public auction be required to complete construction of housing on the subject parcel within 18 months of delivery of the deed, will promote access to housing with the City of Hudson. . . .
In the discussion of the resolution, the aldermen's concerns seemed mostly that the language of the resolution lacked the specificity needed to achieve the desired goal. Alderman Nick Haddad (First Ward) pointed out that someone could buy the property and build a single-family home there. Alderman Bart Delaney (Fifth Ward) asked if the mayor was "looking for multiple dwellings." There was also concern about the City's liability for possible contamination, since the school building was demolished by the City, and legend has it that the demolition was done by bulldozing the structure into its own cellar and fuel oil tanks were left in the ground. The entire discussion is ably recounted by John Mason in today's Register-Star: "Plan to sell parking lot raises eyebrows."  In the end, Council president Don Moore referred the resolution to the Economic Development Committee.

On the issue of selling the property for development, it does seem odd that, in a city that frets about its shrinking population, lack of affordable housing, and limited development potential, the entire west side of North Fourth Street, from Columbia to State stands vacant. Before any decisions are made about if or how to develop it, however, it would be a good thing to extend the local historic district designation, which now stops at Columbia Street, to include the block between Columbia and State and make the link between the Warren Street Historic District and the individually designated 400 State Street complete. 


  1. whatever happened with the sale of the property at Spring St. and Fairview, the "snake house"? where is that money? the buyer was "in the wings". well? it cost 37K to demolish the place. what happened? city hall had better stick to selling trash bags.

  2. Register Star.
    Lantern eyes city parking lot
    Posted: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 1:00 am
    By Tom Casey Hudson-Catskill Newspapers | 0 comments
    HUDSON — Eric Galloway’s Lantern Group has requested to purchase property adjacent to the 401 State Street building from the city of Hudson, Mayor Bill Hallenbeck announced at the Common Council’s Finance Committee meeting Tuesday.

    The group sent a letter to the Mayor’s Office, Hallenbeck said, offering $150,000 to purchase the land which is currently used as a parking lot.
    “I just got this letter today at (3 p.m.) and tomorrow there could be another,” he said. “I just want you to know it’s out there, it exists, and it’s real.”

    The land sits in front of the area where Lantern had proposed to build the Civic Hudson police, court and housing complex. Fifth Ward Supervisor Rick Scalera, who works as an associate for Galloway’s GalVan Initiatives, said the city should move on the offer.

    “The lot at Fourth and State would still be parking provided at no cost and it is on the tax rolls,” he said. “That is a win.”

    Common Council President Don Moore had a brief argument with Scalera over whether the city should take its time with the decision.

    “The council will have to be cautious about this,” said Moore. “We still don’t know about the status of the Civic Hudson Building, there is no need to rush into that.”
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. .
    GalVan(Lantern) owns 400 State(current Library) with no parking across the street and the lot(s) of equal size below Rope Alley and Columbia. Since GalVan is in need of parking for their present and future projects,if indeed the land is unbuildable without very costly remediation,I believe that org. won't care ,as the least costly remediation,results in a sealed parking lot.
    I would guess,that is what they have wanted it for , for a while now.
    Personally, I feel we should not be giving away our decreasing amount of central land for peanuts, and hold on to it. People already have forgotten it seems ,about Galvan's C. C. approved "Civic Hudson Building"" plan for Columbia and State ,for Police / Courts and 2 floors of homeless SRO's, that the Police Union stopped, which CC Pres.Moore refers to at end of this Reg Star article.

  3. How many empty buildings do these guys own? Why not make some anti warehousing rules, that would solve the housing problem. Then this nice piece of property, right next to the elementary school that has only a shredded rubber tire play area, could be developed into a public park, with trees, benches and a play area for the kids.

    Why is it whenever there is an empty space the only idea anyone comes up with is another building? Open space is important for the health and well being of the people. A city with no green space is a desolate, depressing place to live.

    1. Exactly. If they are willing to use this language - "with a condition that the highest bidder at public auction be required to complete construction of housing on the subject parcel within 18 months of delivery of the deed" - why can't they use the same conditions for other property sales, i.e. every property Galvan owns?

    2. there should be a limit on how many unfinished projects for any one person or corporation or shell corporation

  4. “It’s been two years that we all sat and waited,” said the exasperated mayor.

    And there we have the return of Hudson's favorite winning argument, the one that can eventually reduce every obstacle all on its own.

    Never mind the merits or lack thereof, we have waited long enough! Case closed.

    When the premature Draft LWRP was finally accepted by the Common Council in 2009, the last hold-outs gave in for a single reason, because the process had taken so long.

    When the unauthorizable LWRP was accepted as Final in 2011, it crossed the finish line thanks to that old refrain "we've waited long enough!" (some aldermen actually shouted it on that occasion).

    Is there a clever word or phrase that captures this distant approximation of reasoning? I guess "sophistry" will have to do for now.

  5. Sounds like another sweet inside deal for GalVan via his connection with Scalera.

    This is what happens when a town has no vision.

    We are constantly at the mercy of carpetbaggers instead of actually looking to attract reliable tax paying businesses.

    1. You are correct in many ways.
      The galvan/scalera connection is one of self service

    2. Tricky Rick must have sighed in relief when Attorney General Preet Bharara skipped over Hudson on his way to Albany.

  6. "This is what happens when a town has no vision.

    "We are constantly at the mercy of carpetbaggers instead of actually looking to attract reliable tax paying businesses."

    I love these sentences (heh).

  7. Who betrays us, GalVan or Governor Guillermo? GalVan isn't obligated to serve us, Mayor Memo is.