In the previous Council, when Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) chaired the Legal Committee, initiatives tended to come from that committee. Now the role of originator seems to have shifted to the Economic Development Committee, chaired by Alderman Rick Rector (First Ward). At that committee's meeting on Thursday, the pursuit of two goals were discussed.
The first was the development of the Dunn building at the waterfront. Rector made the point that a year has passed since Saratoga Associates had completed its study on the adaptive reuse of the building. He concluded, "It's time to act. The building is crumbling."
Friedman, a member of the Economic Development Committee, said of the Saratoga study, "It's a good plan. It will bring people down there [to the waterfront] in the middle of day." He proposed that the City "lease the whole space to a developer, with adequate covenants." The right developer, he posited, "can preserve the building for us." He originally suggested a 99-year lease but conceded that a 30-year lease would be long enough.
Rector proposed "making it part of historic preservation"--presumably getting it listed in the National Register of Historic Places as well as designating it as a local landmark. It was agreed that the committee would use the adaptive reuse study as the basis for preparing a request for proposals. They spoke of holding a special meeting of the committee to work on the RFP.
Rector introduced the second issue by telling the committee that the fears expressed by some that the hotel proposed for 41 Cross Street could end up becoming a Holiday Inn Express had inspired him to think about the need to ban "formula businesses" from Hudson. He cited San Francisco and the Village of Red Hook as municipalities (along with 25 to 30 others in the United States) where such businesses are prohibited in order to maintain the unique character of the place. Friedman observed that formula businesses, whose store designs are homogeneous, are "antithetical to the value this community places on its architecture." He also suggested that such an ordinance might "dampen the enthusiasm for escalating rents if people knew there was a class of tenant you couldn't have."
The committee considered briefly if a ban on chain stores would apply only to certain districts--for example, historic districts--or to the entire city. They spoke of how the homogeneity of storefronts contributed to the "geography of nowhere." The committee, made up of Rector, Friedman, Henry Haddad (Third Ward), and Alexis Keith (Fourth Ward), was unanimous in its support for banning chain stores and other "formula businesses" from Hudson.
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