Before that happened, there was much discussion on the topic that makes people obsessed about wanting to attend HDC meetings: the Kaz redevelopment project. The conversation started with Don Moore, who chaired the committee that was reviewing the proposals for the site, reporting that he was contacting the three developers--Bonacio Construction, Kearney Realty & Development, and Redburn Development--to "make sure they understood we are in a holding pattern." He indicated he was telling them HDC would be issuing another RFP, but it is not known when. He noted that one of the developers cautioned him that new tariffs being imposed on imported materials would change the bids.
John Gilstrap suggested "the Waterfront Development Committee could take over the site." Since there is no Waterfront Development Committee, it's not clear what body he had in mind. Later he said, "I do worry that we could be here two years from now in the same place." Dunn spoke of the concern about how the new development "relates to the rest of the city and the waterfront" and called for more community input. He advised, "Through a committee or some process, we need to figure out our options."
Walter Chatham offered this assessment of the mistakes of the past: "What went wrong was the process wasn't ready for physical design, but people had the very strong impression that they understood what they would get." He concluded, "HDC went too fast." He cited the process being followed by Hudson Housing Authority, which he said is "focusing on non-design details," as one that HDC should have followed.
The final word on the subject came from Gilstrap, who said, "We really need to form a Kaz committee to look at the possibilities. . . . At some point the RFP needs to be rejiggered and reissued."
At the end of the meeting, when public comment was invited, Matthew Frederick urged the board to do an urban design study. He cited Warren Street as Hudson's best urban design feature, where buildings are three to four stories high and lots are 26 feet wide. He noted that if the site were developed by a single developer, rental income from the property would leave the city and urged, "We must figure out a way to keep income in the community." He suggested that dividing the site into smaller lots could achieve that goal, as well as ensuring that new development would be compatible with the rest of the city.
Reacting to Frederick's suggestion, Morgan-Perez declared, "You will not get one dollar for affordable housing. . . . just extremely wealthy people buying up the property." He did suggest that the state should come up with programs that could make the model suggested by Frederick feasible. Frederick acknowledged it was "a very complex thing" but protested, "To brush it off the table with one concern is unfair."
Clark Wieman asserted that "the process of an urban design plan has been ignored," noting that the process leading up to such a plan is a public process. He urged that a planner be hired to undertake the task of creating an urban design plan for the site.
During the discussion, some interesting information was revealed. Moore indicated that DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) funding for the project was initially $2.5 million, but it had been reduced to slightly less half a million, "because the project stalled." Now, according to Moore, "We have to figure out what we're going to do with [the money]."
Moore also revealed that, of the three proposals HDC had been considering, the Kearney proposal "was almost all public funding." The other two proposals--from Redburn and Bonacio--used no public funding.
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