Friday, December 4, 2015

News from the Planning Board

Seven projects came before the Planning Board on Thursday night, the board's last meeting of 2015. Three of them, each of different reasons, merit attention.

67 Green Street  Anyone struggling to imagine the convenience store at the corner of Green Street and McKinstry Place with a second story perched on top can now stop trying.

Citing prohibitive costs, the owner of the building and the business told the Planning Board last night that the plan to add a second story, with three apartments, has been abandoned, along with the proposed changes to the parking lot. The expansion at the rear and side of the building, however, will be pursued as planned.

255-257 Union Street  This is the address of what is now a parking lot next to Ör. Proposed for this site by the Galvan Foundation, owner of the property, is a garden, "like a little park."

Planning Board chair Cappy Pierro introduced the proposal by saying, "This is an entrance to the city, and they want to clean it up." Pierro seemed to think eliminating the parking lot would not be problematic because there were "three spots on Partition Street" and a municipal parking lot was "right there." Daniel Kent of the Galvan Foundation also stressed the proximity of the municipal lot, saying it was "right around the corner." He also stated there were three spaces on Union Street along the north side of the property.

Seemingly puzzled by Pierro's apparent lack of concern about parking, Planning Board member Laura Margolis commented, "We used to have people show us that there were enough parking spaces."

The loss of parking as a consequence of turning the space into a garden wasn't the only concern. It soon became clear that the proposed garden wasn't meant to be a public park but rather expanded outdoor seating capacity for Ör. Several people who live on Union Street within a half block of the site were concerned about noise. Karen Smith complained, "When the bar closes at 2 in the morning, it's like a party on the street." Bob Rasner recalled that it was originally promised that the gallery cum coffee shop/bar wine would close at 12 midnight, but it is now staying open until 2 a.m. First Ward supervisor Sarah Sterling observed that a park, which is how the plan was being described, is "very different from a garden for a restaurant."

No decision was made on the proposal, which will not be pursued until April, but a public hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, January 13, 2016, when the Planning Board should have a new chair and three new members.

41 Cross Street  Tom Rossi and John Blackburn, both RPI graduates and principals of Redburn Development, made an initial appearance before the Planning Board on Thursday to talk about their plans to turn the Stageworks building on Cross Street into a hotel with 50 to 55 rooms. Redburn Development specializes in the adaptive reuse of historic buildings, specifically in turning historic industrial buildings into residential buildings. Their projects so far have been River Street Lofts in Troy and Tilley Lofts in Watervliet. Both projects are apartment buildings, but Rossi explained to the Planning Board that the market in Hudson inspired them to do a hotel instead of apartments.

The earliest use of the building that is now Stageworks was a candle and soap manufactory. Rossi and Blackburn promise a SHPO-approved rehab of the building, using green energy technology, to create a hotel that "embodies the character of Hudson."

There was much discussion about parking and plans for re-configuring the sidewalk on Cross Street to create a "drop-off area," but code enforcement officer Craig Haigh declared that "parking is the least of the challenges." His concerns were with infrastructure--water and sewer--and with maintaining access to Tanners Lane for fire apparatus. And then there is the matter of projected sea level rise along the Hudson River and its impact on the site, which wasn't really touched upon at all.

City attorney Carl Whitbeck, who was serving as counsel to the Planning Board for this project, advised that it was "premature for the board to give any indication." Gossips, unfettered by such constraints, celebrates Rossi and Blackburn for their vision and wishes them well.


  1. And housing for people who live (or would like to live) in Hudson. Soon, Hudson will be filled with hotels and B&B's and the rental market will have vanished. This gap in the market must be addressed by the in-coming administration. Actually, I would love to know how many rentals we had five years ago, and how many we have now. My guess, our decline in population will continue apace.

  2. How can the incoming administration help with affordable housing. Unless they want to have city run housing. Or give big tax breaks to those who do it. What can they try to do to stop private landowners from doing what they want to house or charging what they want for an apartment

  3. Signifier;
    In a city governed by grant there is plenty of room being reserved for the newly diagnosed or recently released.

    Perhaps the quickest way to find a place in the City of Grant and Graft is to do six months in the county lockup.

  4. The outfit that so many love to hate, the Galvan Foundation, is now beginning to bring more affordable housing on line, and more is in the works, including fixing up existing units that are in deplorable condition at the moment, and should probably have been red tagged long ago. But yes, overall, I think the cheaper rental housing stock is declining, along with Hudson's population, which I would guess has dropped since 2010 by maybe 300 people. I know the population on my block has declined dramatically. So it is an issue to be addressed. Galvan is using federal tax credits to make some of its projects pencil.