Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Saga of a Corner

Another resolution to be introduced at the informal Common Council meeting tonight is one to sell the vacant lot on the southwest corner of Third and Columbia streets to the Hudson Islamic Center for $25,561.

This is not the first time in the past twenty years the City of Hudson has owned this property. The City owned it in 2002, when there was a building on the site, a building constructed in the late 1950s or 1960s to be the Colored Citizens Club.

In 2002, in an RFP like auction of City-owned properties meant to ensure the best outcomes for the properties and the community, 255-257 Columbia Street was acquired by Overcomers Ministries for $5,000. The plan was to turn the building into a Family Life Center, but the plan was never realized. In 2011, the City, in the persons of then mayor Rick Scalera and then code enforcement officer Peter Wurster, determined the building was unstable and needed to come down, and in December of that year, it did--to the great frustration of those who had gathered evidence that entombed beneath the characterless mid-century building were two 19th-century buildings, one of them, beneath the part of the building with the gable roof, being the original St. John's Methodist Episcopal Church.

It cost the City around $60,000 to demolish the building, a cost that was passed along to the property owner--Overcomers Ministries--in property taxes. Those taxes went unpaid, and in 2017, the City foreclosed on the property. In November 2017, 255-257 Columbia was one of the properties offered for sale in the City's tax foreclosure auction. The minimum bid was set at $90,750.47--the amount owed to the City in unpaid taxes and the expense of demolishing the building. What's being offered now is less than a third of that.

Over the years, 255-257 Columbia Street has been identified as a possible site for new affordable housing, despite its unfortunate location on a truck route. In 2010, when there was talk of demolishing Bliss Towers and building new housing units to replace it, 255-257 Columbia Street was on then Fourth Ward supervisor Bill Hughes' list of sites where new units could be built. In March 2017, 255-257 Columbia Street was one of the thirteen properties Sheena Salvino recommended HCDPA (Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency) acquire to develop new affordable housing using funding from the NYS HOME Local Program Small Rental Development Initiative (SRDI). It's possible that the Hudson Islamic Center, which is building a mosque across street, intends to build affordable housing at 255-257 Columbia Street, but it doesn't seem likely.



    it has plenty of both "affordable" and unaffordable housing -- but it is sorely lacking in taxable property.

    its not an Iron Curtain country is it ???

  2. Agree. Also, given all the National Grid gas infrastructure installed in summer of 2015 that surrounds the property, short of a community garden or park, one would question the ability to cost effectively do much of anything on that site.

  3. I agree with whomever "j kay" is: it is the nadir of creativity to propose to take a viable lot and give it to a not for profit that will, if history is any guide, take a decade to break ground and then years to complete the construction (I believe the foundation work at the mosque is going on close to a year now).

    The City should include a second, "springing" mortgage equal to the full market price of the lot on the date of sale that becomes effective if the lot is ever sold to a not-for-profit entity within 20 years. That parcel has cost and cost and cost the City for nearly 25 years. It's high time it was back on the rolls.