Monday, June 25, 2018

The Kaz Site and One Monument Square

At the special meeting held by Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) on June 7 about the redevelopment of the Kaz site, Mark Morgan-Perez cautioned against issuing a new RFP (request for proposals), warning that it "could actually scare away developers." The idea being that this might seem to be a project that would never actually happen. I was reminded of this when I read recently about a three-day design workshop that took place in Troy last week, hosted by the City and conducted by River Street Planning and Development, to gather ideas from residents and business owners about how to redevelopment One Monument Square.

Photo: John Carl D'annibale|Times Union
What struck me was not that Troy was taking a community-driven approach to planning for this critical 1.18 acres on its waterfront but that this would be Troy's fifth attempt to come up with an acceptable plan for redeveloping the site. We're only stalled on our second attempt with the Kaz site.

The first time around, in 2016, Sustainable Community Associates (SCA) was the chosen developer, and the plan was to create a mixed-use development that included residential, retail, co-working office  and live/work spaces, "designed to LEED Gold standards, utilizing geothermal or other high-efficient heating, and maximizing passive solar heating and natural ventilation." Early in 2017, despite a visit from Chuck Schumer in December 2016 to announce his help and support, that plan was put on hold and ultimately abandoned.

A new RFP was issued in early October 2017, and by the end of November 2017, proposals had been received from four developers: SCA (the same proposal submitted before), Redburn Development, Kearney Realty & Development Group, and Bonacio Construction. SCA withdrew its proposal early on, and since November 2017, the HDC Board has been vetting the remaining three developers, assessing their financial security and viability and visiting projects they have completed in other cities. This vetting process, despite a show of little or no confidence from the community, is apparently continuing.

HDC has tried to reassure the community that the selection of a developer will be followed by six months of community-driven planning before a final plan is developed, but people aren't feeling reassured. They want to see up front renderings of what the buildings will actually look like. They want to feel comfortable that the development of this site won't have a negative, character-altering impact on the city. 

HDC seems confident that the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) process produced enough public input to inform the development of this site, but members of the community clearly think otherwise. Perhaps we, like Troy, need a three-day planning workshop to create a plan that will then be presented to developers instead of issuing an RFP that defines "development goals" and leaves it to the developer to come up with the plan.


  1. It was only last month when Troy released its updated Comprehensive Plan:

    It's food for thought that Troy's latest community-driven planning efforts are entirely focused on winning in the next DRI round:

    Whereas Troy finally grasps the proper order of things, it often seems that Hudson's DRI award was a fluke.

  2. A good place to start would be to re-create the old street grid to the extent possible. That will give the development a traditional neighborhood feel, as opposed to a big box suburban look.

  3. A community-based planning process coordinated with professionals in urban planning, tranportation planning, and muncipal/housing finance is ideal. And every effort should be made to solicit proposals from best-in-class partners with proven track records in innovative, sustainable design that also is responsive to Hudson's existing urban fabric. This said, there is a danger in repeatedly reissuing and revising proposals. Political gridlock, NIMBYISM, and other factors create risk that nothing gets built and that no additional housing, jobs or tax revenue will come to Hudson. It's a difficult balance, and not everyone will be satisfied by the result. But we should strive to achieve a result rather than perpetuate an environment in which nothing happens.