Thursday, September 7, 2017

Following Up with the Dunn

Last Friday evening, Historic Hudson had a fundraiser in the yard outside the Dunn warehouse on the Hudson waterfront. More than two hundred people turned out to sample Central European wines from Hudson Wine Merchants paired with delectable food from Talbott & Arding Cheese and Provisions. Jamie Larson covered the event for Rural Intelligence.

Photo: Kelly A. Thompson

Photo: Kelly A. Thompson
The choice of venue for the event was in keeping with Historic Hudson's mission to promote the appreciation and preservation of Hudson's historic architecture and its history. The Dunn warehouse, which was built around 1850 as the Hudson and Boston Railroad Shop, is one of the last industrial buildings that survive on Hudson's waterfront, and Historic Hudson wants to raise people's awareness of the building and engage their interest in its future.

The event inspired Gossips to wonder about the status of things related to the building. The adaptive reuse of the Dunn warehouse was designated one of the five priority projects in the Hudson's Downtown Revitalization Initiative proposal. The DRI application proposes devoting $2.8 million of the $10 million to "Dunn & Warehouse & Environs," but that isn't the only grant money earmarked for the Dunn building. At the beginning of this year, the City was awarded a $500,000 Restore NY grant to stabilize the building and halt its deterioration. The grant application outlined how the $500,000 would be used:
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 with the next 6-10 months.
The award was announced on January 27. More than seven months later, no remedial work on the building has begun. The application also committed the City to issuing an RFP for a developer in 2017. That will no doubt happen. Almost four months remain to do that.

There was also a question of whether or not the building was included in the National Register-listed Hudson Historic District. In November 2016, Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton received a letter from Weston Davey at the State Historic Preservation Office explaining the building's situation: "Documentation for the Hudson MRA (Multiple Resource Area) was completed in 1985, but the Hudson and Boston Railroad Shop was not listed at that time due to property owner objections." Since the building has already been documented and determined to be eligible for listing, actually getting it listed in the National Register of Historic Places should not be a difficult undertaking. Being listed in the National Register will be make it more attractive to a developer who wanted to undertake its adaptive reuse, because it would be qualify for historic preservation tax incentives. Still, almost ten months after learning the status of the building, the NR listing, according to Gossips' information, has not been pursued.

Gossips did learn from Sheena Salvino, executive director of HDC (Hudson Development Corporation) that the Dunn building will be on the agenda for the next Common Council Economic Development Committee meeting, which takes place on Thursday, September 21, at 6 p.m., at City Hall.


  1. I've held my tongue until now, but I had planned to attend the fundraiser until I met the latest President of Historic Hudson. In my first and hopefully last conversation with the fellow we discussed the future of the Dunn building. Rather, he discussed it aloud while no additional input was required.

    I was told four times! that there's nowhere on this side of the river where you can enjoy a glass of wine and watch the sunset. I asked whether or not this was code for "restaurant," because if it that's what he was promoting then I couldn't support the idea.

    To my question he simply repeated, "There's nowhere on this side of the river where you can have a glass of wine and watch the sunset."

    I realized that I would not get a word in edgewise, nor were my views of any interest to the fellow. I knew then and there that I would not attend the fundraiser.

    Either some people's money is greener than others, or all of the attendees left the event humming the same mantra: There's no place on this side of the river .... there's no place like home ...

    So I'll ask the same question here which the President would not condescend to answer. Is Historic Hudson actively promoting a restaurant at the former Dunn building?

    1. Interesting that you came to this conclusion, unheimlich. I am on the board of Historic Hudson, and I recall telling, as a horror story, in conversation with some folks at the event last Friday, how in 2010 Eric Galloway was all set to buy the building (and the Common Council all set to sell it to him) and turn it into a giant restaurant, with 200 tables as it was explained at the time: Fortunately, that deal didn’t happen, either because (depending on who tells it) the City put too many performance clauses in the contract of sale or Galloway couldn’t find a restaurateur willing to undertake a project of that magnitude.

      Historic Hudson is not promoting any particular use for the Dunn building, although I admit to sharing Alan Neumann’s desire to enjoy a glass of wine while watching the sun set over the river—without having to become a member of the Hudson Power Boat Association. The Saratoga Associates feasibility study demonstrates that the building could accommodate several different uses. My own preference would be that the southern part of the building be maintained as some kind of public assembly space that could be used year-round for the Hudson Farmers’ Market. The study proposed dividing the northern part of the building into three retail spaces. In my fantasy—my personal fantasy—one of those would be a kayak rental, another a take-out food concession selling affordable food (burgers, hotdogs, the locally famous fish fry, pepperoni sandwiches, ice cream cones, etc.), and the third—with lots of outdoor seating—would be a wine bar. Of course, turning the southern part of the building into a aquarium and maritime museum isn't a bad idea either, but I still want the kayak rental, the snack bar, and the wine bar.

    2. You've got it right, Gossips, that that was a close call several years back. Perhaps I'd give a little more credit to some of our previous Aldermen who overcame the weighted vote system to keep the building in the City's possession:



      But we're not in the clear yet, seeing as the latest batch of self-entitled, modesty-wanting, tin-eared newcomers will go on and on about wine and restaurants. Who do they think they are?!

      I'm just saying that if the current President of Historic Hudson is able to entertain the possibility that people other than Annie Leibovitz have a right to exist, then he'd better keep an open mind and listen to those who preceded him in this place.

      I never want to encounter this individual again, and I request that Historic Hudson remove me from its mailing list at the earliest opportunity.

      Is that really what HH wants? It can't be! Ditch him.