Monday, January 30, 2017

Contemplating RFPs

Now that the City of Hudson has won a Restore NY grant for $500,000 to stabilize the Dunn building, and it has been disclosed that the application for the grant indicates the City will issue a request for proposals (RFP) for further development of the building in this calendar year, 2017, there is concern that the City will rush into some bad development plan that will ruin the waterfront.

Let's not forget that in 2010 the City was poised to sell the building to Eric Galloway for $250,000. The plan was to turn the entire building into a "bistro styled" restaurant and bar, with 200 tables on two floors and in a glass enclosed atrium. Then mayor Rick Scalera thought it would be "the ideal catalyst to future development" on the waterfront. Don Moore, who was then Common Council president, declared, "Even before we have gotten completion of the LWRP, we are making the kind of progress we want to make."

Rendering of Dunn building re-imagined as bistro
Mercifully, the plan for the giant bistro was never pursued. Galloway withdrew. Word was that he could not find a restaurateur willing to take on such a huge project. It's important to note that this plan was conceived without benefit of an RFP. It was apparently just three men in a room--Galloway, Scalera, and Moore. The RFP process now being proposed is a step in the right direction.

There are a few things to remember about the RFP process for the Dunn building, which follow in more or less chronological order: 
  • Last August, when the discussion of an RFP first began, the Common Council Economic Development Committee, which will be managing the process, agreed to have a public hearing on the RFP before it is issued to allow the community to critique the document and provide input.
  • Although the application for the Restore NY grant indicates an RFP will be issued in 2017, it doesn't have to be issued until the end of 2017. Proposals can be received and reviewed in 2018.
  • If an RFP is issued, there is no obligation to accept any of the proposals submitted. 
  • Even if a proposal is accepted, it is no guarantee that the project will ever happen.
We're seeing the last item in the list playing out with the Kaz warehouses. In December 2015, after several months of work, the Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) issued an RFP for the redevelopment of the site. Proposals were due in March 2016, but it wasn't until April that it was made known to the public that HDC had decided to move forward with the proposal submitted by Sustainable Community Associates for a mixed-use development that would include residential, retail, co-working office, and live/work spaces.

The proposed timeline for the project started with a six-month planning period that involved working "with neighbors and community stakeholders to develop a plan for the central waterfront district." That was in April, but nothing more was heard about the project until December, when Senator Charles Schumer showed up in Hudson, on his last stop in a sixty-two county tour of the state, to declare his support for the $25 million redevelopment project and announce that he was sending a letter to the CEO of CSX asking the railroad to give up the land it owns between the Kaz warehouses and South Front Street, land that is critical to the proposed redevelopment of the site. (It's interesting to note that the parcel CSX now occupies is one the City swapped with CSX a decade or so ago for the waterfront parcel that is now Rick's Point.) In an interview with Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton on @Issue two weeks ago, we learned that the project is also looking to acquire the front part of the City's Amtrak parking lot and extend the parking lot farther back in order to get more street frontage.

The latest news about the project, however, emerged from the HDC meeting last Tuesday. Gossips has learned that the discussion of the $25 million redevelopment project seems to have broken down. SCA is allegedly being "unresponsive," and Duncan Calhoun, president of the HDC Board, has his own proposal for redeveloping the site: turn the Kaz warehouses into a giant covered parking garage.


  1. A multi-level parking garage on one of the most important parcels on our waterfront? Wow! That's some real vision. Tell me more Robert Moses.

    1. Not multi-level, as I understand it, single-level! Just open the doors and let people park.

    2. A parking lot on any kind on that parcel is ludicrous. Duncan Calhoun is totally conflicted. His own hotel and B & B business has always come first. Time for new leadership at HDC.

    3. Perhaps it's time that you, or someone, explain why the ever-troublesome, corruption-inducing HDC is so indispensable to Hudson.

      I'm still smarting about the Bentley Meeker gift to the City which the City swore up and down it would not sell, but which the HDC then turned around and sold almost without warning. Or how about the sale of the riverfront between the State boat launch and Dock Street? Some vision there. And all of this property laundering done behind closed doors. New leadership ain't gonna fix nuthin!

      If we already have an IDA, explain why we need a development corporation too?

    4. p.s. I'm not piling on in regard to Mr. Calhoun. It's the institution itself that's a perennial problem, no matter who's in charge.

      As VM says, it's "always been sketchy." The way it's set up must invite that, or even elicit it, from normal human nature.

      To think that the City nearly dissolved the IDA! Instead, it's time for the IDA to justify itself, and without any input from interested HDC members. (Just watch, they'll be the first to explain the difference.)

  2. There is such an apparent and clear conflict of interest in Duncan's being anywhere near anything that has to do with competitive lodging in this city. I believe he should be recusing himself from all the HDC discussions and votes as to the waterfront given his antipathy towards the Wick from the moment it was proposed. The best course of action, of course, is for him to remove himself from the HDC; barring that, the balance of the board should do their fiduciary duty and remove him on their own. This is laughable.

    1. Even better, let's remove the HDC, forever.

      It would be invaluable to get a full rundown of the many potential overlaps between a development corporation and an Industrial Development Agency (which the City also has).

      Considering the temptations involved, which always go hand in hand with cronyism, Hudson is too small a municipality to justify a development corporation.

  3. A parking garage on that plot of land is a ridiculous idea. I was hoping that Hudson had evolved beyond that kind of thinking.

  4. The HDC has always been sketchy and should always be suspect.

  5. Regarding the Kaz warehouses, perhaps the idea of turning the structure into a convention center should be explored. When I lived in Philadelphia, Mayor Rendell proposed building the Pennsylvania Convention Center to create jobs. Here's a link to an article describing the economic impact:

  6. The de-evolution of Hudson, New York is becoming a reality.