Saturday, March 3, 2018

I Is for Initiative: DRI and GIF

At the DRI Local Planning Committee meeting on January 26, it became known that the Galvan Initiatives Foundation had submitted five proposals for DRI funding. Two were new projects: restoring the Robert Taylor House as a restaurant and tavern; restoring the Charles Alger House, 59 Allen Street, as a B&B.

The other three were projects Galvan had already announced it was undertaking: restoring 260 Warren Street, part of it for affordable housing; restoring 22-24 Warren Street for affordable housing; creating a kitchen for the Salvation Army at 11 Warren Street. 

By February 8, the date of the last public meeting in the DRI planning process, 260 Warren Street had been dropped from the list for an obvious reason: it was out of the BRIDGE District; but the other four remained. After the LPC Project Development Subcommittee met on February 16 to determine the projects to be included in the draft DRI Investment Plan, those four projects continued to be part of the plan: three--the Robert Taylor House, 22-24 Warren Street, the Salvation Army kitchen--recommended to receive DRI funding; the fourth--59 Allen Street--recommended to be part of the DRI Investment Plan but not to receive DRI funding.

The public outcry over awarding DRI funds to the Galvan Foundation began last Tuesday, when, at the Hudson Development Corporation board meeting, Julie Metz demanded to know "why Galvan is being encouraged to apply for DRI money." She told the board that Galvan had been "founded by two extraordinarily wealthy people" and declared that it was "beyond the pale that they would get money from the DRI." Duncan Calhoun, HDC board president, denied that HDC had anything to do with the DRI process. Board member Don Moore told Metz that no one had encouraged them, but there was "no prohibition to them applying." When Metz asked Sheena Salvino, HDC executive director, if HDC had written a letter of support for the Galvan projects, Salvino said there had been no such letter.

At the final DRI Local Planning Committee meeting on Thursday, LPC member Colin Stair voiced the opinion that "taking public money to award Galvan is wrong." When the public was allowed to speak, Victor Mendolia told the LPC that he was appalled at the possible funding of the Galvan projects. He pointed out that the board of the Galvan Foundation consisted of just two people--one of whom was one of the richest people in America--and called them "bad actors in the community," attributing a significant portion of Hudson's population loss between 2000 and 2010 to Eric Galloway's "obsessive acquisition" of buildings. Mendolia's entire statement can be viewed in the video of the meeting, beginning at 2:12:21.

Gossips reported on Friday that the LPC did not vote on adopting the DRI Investment Plan at its final meeting because not all of the members were present. The members of the LPC are to submit their votes--indicating yes or no to the full list and disclosing any conflicts of interest with particular projects--by Monday, March 5. Gossips has learned that there may be a possibility that the Galvan projects--recommended to receive $842,570 in DRI funds--could be pulled from the draft DRI Investment Plan being submitted to the Department of State and comments on the issue can be submitted to the LPC before Monday. A reader shared his letter to the LPC in a comment on a Gossips post. To submit a comment to the LPC, click here.    


  1. It would be interesting to review the actual business plan for the conversion of 59 Allen Street to a "B&B." A "Bed and Breakfast" is defined under NYS law as a (state-licensed) single family home with a resident owner, who serves at least one meal per day (typically breakfast), and rents out not more than five individual rooms, with bedroom rentals above the second floor forbidden for reasons of fire safety. If the Galvan Foundation is submitting such a plan, fascinating questions arise: first, is it even legal in NYS for a Foundation to operate a B&B? Second, who would be the resident owner? T. Eric Galloway? Or Henry Van Ameringen? Hope they can cook - they'd be getting reviewed by their guests, and bad reviews are the kiss of death for B&B owners (was that considered in the DRI plan review?). Or third, would they actually be proposing to rent through (shudder) transient rental platforms, providing competition for all those beleaguered Hudson homeowners doing the same to help pay their ever-escalating property taxes, which rise with each additional property warehoused by the Galvan Foundation and its associated entities? Inquiring minds want to know.

  2. I have asked ,and received NO RESPONSE. How much does Galvin pat to the city of HUDSON intakes on 25 million dollars worth o Realestate??

  3. Go to the City assessments and see for yourself. In my neighborhood of lower Warren, 11 Warren Street is assessed at $2,800,000 and is wholly tax exempt.
    201 Warren,assessed $541,000, wholly exempt.

  4. If Galvan is a non-profit does it therefore pay no property tax? Asking not telling.

    1. On 25 million $ worth of property ,it can not ALL be exempt.IF it is, something is wrong with our town fathers.

    2. The final assessment roll for 2017, pages 416-418, indicates that all of the properties owned by Galvan Asset Management (there are 11) are wholly exempt from property tax. Those are the properties whose ownership was transferred from Housing Resources of Columbia County to Galvan Asset Management. Also wholly exempt are the two properties owned by Galvan Civic I: the armory and 40 South Third Street, the Salvation Army building. Also exempt is 11 Warren Street, owned by Galvan Initiatives Foundation. The rest, so far as I can tell from the tax roll, are subject to property tax.

    3. While the bulk of properties owned by the Galvan entities may be on the tax roll, those properties have often been grieved at the Board of Assessment Review, which may grant Galvan entities large reductions in assessment (thus lowering their property taxes), perhaps based on either condition or the purchase price(s) paid by said entities. And as we know, the Galvan entities in some cases acquire properties that have never been on the open market. However, if the properties they've acquired (particularly residential ones in need of upgrades) had been purchased by buyers actually intending to promptly improve and occupy them (1) chances are those buyers wouldn't get the assessment reductions frequently granted to Galvan entities (especially post-improvement), and hence more property tax would be paid into City coffers by these properties, lowering the amount paid by other homeowners; and (2) the properties would actually be occupied, and house individuals who would spend money locally, improving the economy. Then of course there's the issue of evictions by the Galvan entities post-building acquisition, which has been mentioned in a number of meetings.

      It would be interesting to know how Galvan entities would reconcile building restaurants and B&Bs (as opposed to investing those funds in renovating buildings in its portfolio for affordable housing) with its "mission." The response would probably be that all revenues pour into the general coffers, to support NFP activities. However, given the many years for which some of these properties have been boarded up, one can’t help wondering whether the warehousing activity may be akin to the speculation going on now in Detroit, where well heeled entities with no pretension to any NFP mission are buying up large groups of distressed properties, warehousing them while paying steeply discounted property taxes, and will eventually sell them off at a spectacular profit as the local economy recovers.

  5. To consider the problematic Galvan proposals only (and not the pier proposal for once), I maintain that the greater share of culpability for this mess is due to the process itself.

    If our assigned DRI administrators wish for Hudson's success, then they erred magnificently by disallowing public comments at the February 8 meeting, which is still mistakenly referred to as a "public meeting."

    In retrospect, what a colossal misnomer!

    Consider that February 8 was the only official LPC meeting between the news of Galvan's proposals, on January 26, and last week's final meeting on March 1.

    The February 8 meeting was held 13 days after Galvan's intentions became known to the public, and the alarm had since spread rapidly among residents.

    I personally knew of a half-dozen residents attending the February 8 meeting prepared to air their concerns, and later learned of a good number more who intended to speak.

    But there was no opportunity to make a public comment at the February 8 meeting. Moreover, judging by the meeting's Agenda and its timeline, both of which were satisfied to perfection, there was never any intention to allow the public to speak.

    And yet, here's how the March 1 meeting was introduced:

    "February 8 [was] the date of the last public meeting ... This [tonight] is the last official meeting ... We will conduct this meeting as with all other meetings with a formal session of the Planning Committee and then a public session to follow, so keep your comments and thoughts on the ready for when we get to that part of the Agenda."


    At the February 8 meeting I sat beside Julie Metz who'd prepared a concise statement of her objections to the Galvan proposals. It was entirely reasonable that she and others had expected to read their statements aloud. But when the "public meeting" ended with no public session, we were bewildered. As people stood to leave a few approached the DRI Planners to register at least some concern about the 13-day-old Galvan news. I kept my own statement uncharacteristically brief: "It's obscene."

    To complete the picture of how a normal-sized "oversight" for Hudson - denying the public an opportunity to comment - can assume enormous proportions in a consequential, fast-paced process such as this, Ms. Metz had to wait 19 days after the touted "last public meeting" to register an official statement of her own outrage at the February 27 meeting of the HDC. That was 4 days before the present Gossips post.

    I'm personally grateful for the tireless efforts of the DRI Planners, but this stumble and its consequent dilemma are entirely their fault.

  6. Which of the following categories of public participation apply to Hudson's "DRI Public Meeting #3," held February 8?


    "Will the public be able to participate in LPC meetings?

    "The extent that the public will be able to actively participate in a meeting will depend on the purpose and structure of the meeting. In general, meetings will fall into three categories:

    "• Open House – These sessions will be largely conducted by consultants for the purpose of educating the public and getting the public’s reactions to information and ideas. LPC members may also be present.

    "• LPC Meeting – These sessions are working meetings conducted by the LPC co-chairs for the purpose of discussion among the LPC members and presentations on scheduled topics. At the discretion of the LPC, meeting agendas may include time for public comment or other engagement exercises.

    "• Workshop – These sessions will be held to solicit ideas from the public, and comments on various planning topics. These public engagement workshops are intended to be very interactive, with participation by both the public and LPC members."

    Source: "Round 2 "Frequently Asked Questions"