Sunday, January 29, 2017

Grant Money for the Dunn

On Friday, January 27, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the award of nearly $40 million in Round 4 of Restore NY Communities Initiative grant funding. Among the recipients of the funding is the City of Hudson, which is to receive $500,000 for the rehabilitation of the Dunn building on the waterfront.

This news would be received with untempered celebration were it not for a specter raised at the last Common Council Economic Development Committee meeting. At that meeting, which took place the week before the grants were announced, committee chair Rick Rector said he had recently learned that "the grant is tied into a developer with a plan in place." This came as a surprise and a great disappointment to those who had supported the grant application because they saw it as a means for the City to stabilize the building and halt its deterioration and in so doing to eliminate the immediate need to pursue development plans for the building. The information Rector shared seemed to contradict that. The grant would not buy time to proceed with the search for a developer and a plan in a measured and careful manner. Instead, it would require the City to proceed immediately to find a developer for the building.

With the help of Sheena Salvino, executive director of the Hudson Development Corporation, Gossips has gathered information that gives some clarity to the situation. The guidelines for Restore NY include two statements that are relevant here.
Rehabilitation of municipal building and properties for municipal reuse is not eligible for Restore NY funding.
The goal of Restore NY is to revitalize urban centers. It is anticipated that upon completion, the projects funded by Restore NY grants will attract individuals, families, industry and commercial enterprises to the municipality. It is further anticipated that the improved community and business climate will result in an increased tax base thereby improving municipal finances and the wherewithal to further grow the municipality's tax and resource base and lessen its dependence on state aid.
Based on these statements, it is clear that the City of Hudson cannot use the $500,000 to stabilize the building and then keep it for its own use and off the tax rolls, but there is no indication that there must be a developer wanting to partner with the City lined up before the stabilization, funded by the Restore NY grant, can begin.

The application submitted for the grant outlines the proposed sequence of events: the $500,000 will be spent to stabilize the building before an RFP (request for proposals) is issued.
. . . the city of Hudson recognizes that its role, prior to the issuance of an RFP for redevelopment, is to undertake the necessary measures to secure, stabilize and undertake basic rehabilitation activities within the structure. . . .
Need for short-term investment prior to the issuance of a Request For Proposals--based upon the structural analysis and accompanying cost estimates, approximately $500,000 is necessary to undertake the very basic measures needed to secure, stabilize and rehabilitate the building in the relatively short term. Without this funding, the building risks further decay, including structural failure, and simply cannot be rehabilitated to even the most basic standards necessary to solicit proposals from private developers.
Elsewhere in the application, however, it is revealed just how much (or how little) time the Restore NY grant will buy.
. . . the Dunn Building rehabilitation process can be effectively divided into two discrete phases: [1] Initial stabilization/rehabilitation; and [2] Private-sector redevelopment.
The City of Hudson, through its Superintendent of Public Works, and with the assistance of the Hudson Development Corporation, will oversee the first phase. The DPW Superintendent and the Executive Director of HDC will issue a request for proposals for professional services (architectural, etc.) and oversee the bidding process to engage contractors to secure, stabilize and undertake basic rehabilitation of the Dunn Building. . . . 
In 2017, the City of Hudson will issue a Request For Proposals for the redevelopment of the Dunn building by a private developer. Obviously, the identity of that entity is unknown at this time. However, the City [through the Economic Development Committee of the Common Council] has already been formulating concepts for that RFP.
There's the promise: the RFP will be issued in 2017--in the eleven months remaining in this year. The timing is unfortunate for those who want to see a revised LRWP in place before the redevelopment of the Dunn building begins. Nick Zachos, who now chairs the Waterfront Advisory Committee, has speculated that the revised document will be ready for review by the Department of State in 2018.

The grant application goes on to detail the work to be funded by the Restore NY grant.
The utilization of the Restore New York funding is intended to undertake the necessary improvements to: [1] Address immediate issues affecting building condition and stability; and, [2] Undertake necessary rehabilitation activities--improvements that are generic in nature and that would contribute to any type of adaptive reuse--that make the building both ready for and attractive to a developer to be selected under a Request For Proposal (RFP) process. The project, and accompanying scope of work, can be organized into two categories:
Phase I–Urgent Repair: involves work that should be conducted as soon as possible.
Phase I work consists of repair issues that are required to maintain the stability of the structure to prevent possible collapse, and items necessary to reduce an active deterioration conditions.
Phase II–Short Term Repair: involves work that should be completed within the next 6-10 months.
1. Removal of saplings along east elevation.
2. Installation of temporary supports below (3) trusses within North Section.
3. Removal of loose bricks along east side parapet of North Section and covering of parapet with waterproof membrane.
4. Installation of pvc membrane, or other means, to cover portion of North Section’s roof and gutter line at intersection of North and South Sections. It is anticipated that the membrane will be installed by a professional roofer to ensure that it can last until corrective work can be conducted.
1. Repair of timber roof trusses and eliminate of temporary shoring.
2. Repair of corroded steel header at entry way to east addition
3. Removal of existing roof and replacement of 50% of decking for North Section.
4. Reroofing the entire building.
5. Full repair of masonry, excluding south wall of South Section.
6. Bracing of south wall of South Section.
7. Installation of Perimeter drain and ground gutter system.
8. Tree removal along south elevation.
So, that's the situation. Those worried about the imminent collapse of the building can breathe a little easier. Those worried about a possibly inappropriate adaptive reuse of the building must remain vigilant.


  1. On September 13, 2016, answering whether or not the Restore NY grant is tied to the RFP, the City's grant-writer Bill Roehr answered "it's not."

    "What it is is a means of stabilizing the building, adding a little value to the building, and so forth, but what I really want to emphasize is that anything that's done there is in no way going to direct or determine any future uses. That'll just be generic improvements."*

    On October 2nd, in an application with several specific questions about the structure's future commercial occupant, Sheena Salvino assured the Restore NY grantors that "In 2017, the City of Hudson will issue a Request For Proposals for the redevelopment of the Dunn building by a private developer."

    Were these people knowingly lying two weeks earlier?

    *At 1:07:04:

  2. Can the space in the building be "carved up," so to speak? In other words, a private developer uses part of the building for a waterfront restaurant or a boat rental business, while not-for-profits such as Kite's Nest and the Hudson Sloop Club occupy a portion of the building?

    1. An excellent question. Also, can a non-profit be considered "commercial"? Does it matter who rents the boats?

      Of course these things should have been discussed before we were misled into supporting the grant, but when you think of anything associated with HDC, think "sneaky."

      If our questions are not answered promptly, residents who wrote letters of support can go directly to Restore NY and reverse their support. Goodbye grant.

  3. Someone had better make a good argument why those of us who wrote letters of support and now feel they were manipulated shouldn't contact Restore NY to rescind that support before funds are released.

    Unless we get some explanation, and fast, that's what we must do. Otherwise, we knowingly tolerate being manipulated, which only invites further manipulation.