Sunday, February 26, 2017

Affordable Housing and Hudson

Affordable housing has been a topic of discussion in Hudson for at least twenty years--ever since people started reclaiming the commercial buildings along Warren Street and 19th-century houses that had been converted to low-income apartments during the bleakest days, economically speaking, of Hudson's recent past. Over the past two decades, affordable housing--a blanket term that seems to embrace everything from emergency shelter for the homeless to moderate-income apartments--has been the subject of ad hoc committees, needs analyses, and forums. The most recent needs analysis was done in 2012; the most recent forum took place last Thursday. The Register-Star reported on the event: "Forum energizes drive toward affordable housing in Hudson." Dan Udell videotaped it: "Affordable Housing in Hudson, NY." With all this information available, Gossips will make no attempt to summarize the forum but rather will report just a few important takeaways.

Forum panelists Bill Hughes, Fourth Ward supervisor, and Tiffany Garriga, Second Ward alderman, and moderator Michael Chameides, Hudson City Democratic Committee chair. Not shown is panel member Matthew Nelson, mortgage officer at the Community Preservation Corporation
Although it was acknowledged that ideally a comprehensive housing plan for the entire city should be developed, the City has neither the resources nor the time to undertake a comprehensive plan. Because affordable housing is a priority of the current administration (that's the mayor of Hudson not the president of the United States) and of Hudson Community Development & Planning Agency (HCDPA), because, to paraphrase Sheena Salvino, executive director of HCDPA and the Hudson Development Corporation (HDC), "there is no shortage of developers interested in Hudson," and because, according to Salvino, there is a "basket of resources" available to develop housing across the entire spectrum, from homeless shelters to moderate-income rentals, HCDPA is moving ahead with a "pilot program" that will focus on the 100 and 200 blocks of State Street.

The lots in question are those along the north side of State Street, from the playground on at the corner of Second Street to North Front Street and extending down the slope to what would be Rope Alley, if Rope Alley continued west beyond Second Street. These lots, together with 1 Lombard Street (Lombard Street is a "paper street" today) and the land on the southeast corner of North Front and Dock streets, properties that are contiguous with the lots along State Street, all belong to the City of Hudson.

1 Lombard Street

North Front and Dock Street
Salvino spoke about working with "our neighbors at Kite's Nest," who are looking to redevelop their property on the west side of North Front Street after a tragic fire destroyed the historic building on that site. The Kite's Nest property is just across Front Street from the City-owned parcels.

The map below shows roughly--ever so roughly--the area being discussed as the site for new housing development. It has yet to be determined whether the development will be strictly residential or mixed use residential/commercial, whether it will be low income, moderate income, or mixed income, and whether it will be multistory apartment buildings, "garden apartments," two-family town houses, single-family homes, or any of a number of other configurations.

As Salvino told those assembled on Thursday, it is now time "to identify what the community wants." She did not outline exactly how that will be accomplished, but it will certainly involve public meetings and probably also surveys. 

Also mentioned as potential sites for development were what is left of the community garden on the northeast corner of Second and Columbia streets, a parcel owned by HCDPA, and the lot on the southwest corner of Fourth and State streets, a parcel owned by the City of Hudson and now being used by Columbia County as a parking lot.

Second and Columbia

Fourth and State
Two more bits of information. It was stated by panel member Bill Hughes that it is not possible for a developer to "self-fund" a project, that is, finance it without some kind of subsidies or tax credits, and make the rents affordable. He defined an affordable rent as between $600 and $950 a month.


  1. If there is "no shortage of developers interested in Hudson" why do we give so much in PILOTS, etc to entice them? I'm especially thinking of our waterfront which has to be one of the few remaining undeveloped sites on the Hudson.Developers should be in a bidding war for our water front, let alone the undeveloped building sites the City owns. What am I missing here?

    1. what you are missing is that Hudson does not own much of the waterfront.

      as for the PILOTS, i think that if the land were sold on the auction block with no strings attached, then Hudson would have alot more tax money to support the City.

    2. The City owns the vast majority of the waterfront -- a good portion of it, unfortunately, can't be accessed (at the base of the palisades that are the base of the Hudson Terrace Apartments, etc.). The problem isn't the waterfront. It's the infill development that is required to stabilize and shore up the neighborhoods that haven't (yet) benefitted from Hudson's real estate appreciation -- primarily the areas north of Warren. The developers aren't really interested in building "affordable" housing. They want to build AirBnB apartments to capitalize on Hudson as a millennial "experiential" travel destination. Thus the need to provide PILOTS to those few developers actually interested in developing such infill housing. Notably, Galvan has never raised the issue of PILOTS: as a NFP it has no intention of ever paying property taxes in Hudson and, indeed, its business plan is totally reliant on selling tax breaks to third parties who have no interest in paying Hudson property taxes either. In essence, the Galvan plan has always been beggar thy neighbor in this regard.

  2. There's a problem with the location, "rough" as its depiction is on the map, and it's the same problem the HDC overlooked when it flipped the Bentley Meeker property (after saying that it wouldn't).

    The lot at the corner of Dock Street and North Front Street is identified as the only viable site for green or gray infrastructure, or what the engineers called "storage" in the City's "Combined Sewer Overflow Long-Term Control Plan" (LTCP; 2003-2009).

    An LTCP is like an LWRP, which is to say a comprehensive planning document, only it's for combined sewer systems, and a requirement of Federal policy.

    As stated in the beginning of our LTCP, the plan "builds upon a Combined Sewer Overflow report developed by Cahn Engineers and published in 1981," a report which was emphatic about the significance of the same corner lot for stormwater planning.

    So, despite the brow-beating the HDC has received for years, both for the decision to sell the lot in the first place, and for the HDC's uninterrupted ignorance concerning the infrastructure needs of the City, it comes as no surprise that the HDC is once again completely oblivious to the contents of the State-approved LTCP.

    This is known as BAD PLANNING.

    To my neighbors: let's get rid of the Hudson Development Corporation at the earliest opportunity.

    (And when will someone provide an update about the HDC and Senator Schumer's $25 million deal? Word has it, that's now a failure too.)

    For a City-wide, comprehensive housing study, I understand this is will be a component of the Conservation Advisory Council's "Resource Inventory," which is currently in progress. Was anyone present from Hudson's CAC to shed light on this? (If not, that's not the CAC's fault.)

    Naturally our City is so huge and sprawling that the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing ...

    Another name for this phenomenon: BAD PLANNING.

  3. But there's grant money available for BAD PLANNING...We're being led by the conceptually challenged.