Friday, May 3, 2019

Nine Not to Ignore: No. 5

Gossips again takes up Nine Not to Ignore, the series intended to highlight at-risk buildings in Hudson. Having thus far featured the Robert Taylor House, the Charles Alger House, Hudson Upper Depot, and 432 Warren Street, we turn our attention to the next at-risk historic site.

5  402-404 Warren Street and 10-12 North Fourth Street

This sitea major eyesore on a significant corner in the citystarted out as five buildings: the principal building, 402-404 Warren Street; three Greek Revival townhouses along North Fourth Street; and a building, believed to have dated from the late 18th century, which stood at 406 Warren Street. They were/are owned by one person, who years ago, when lodging was scarce in Hudson, planned to convert the buildings into a hotel. The following are images of a model presented to the Historic Preservation Commission back in 2006.

In late December 2006between Christmas and New Year's Day, when many members of the HPC were away for the holidaysthe building at 406 Warren Street was demolished. Peter Wurster, who was then the code enforcement officer, issued a demolition permit without a certificate of appropriateness from the HPC and without the claim that the building was an imminent threat to public safety. The design for the hotel that was before the HPC required the demolition of the building at 406 Warren Street, to make way for the new construction of the accordion design entrance to the hotel, but the design had never been approved.

The preservation law (Chapter 169-8.B) is clear about what should have happened: "In no case shall the time between demolition and commencement of new construction or lot improvement exceed six months." Yet, thirteen years later, the only "lot improvement" undertaken was the installation of a "mural" fence to mask the gaping hole in the streetscape and hide the gaping hole in the ground.

And then there are the town houses on North Fourth Street. The picture below shows this block of houses (at the right) as it once was.

Today, one of them is gone, demolished in September 2013. Again, the demolition was done without a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission, but this time at least the code enforcement officer, now Craig Haigh, determined it had to be demolished in the interest of public safety.

In August 2014, Richard Cohen, the owner of the buildings, was called before the Common Council Legal Committee. John Friedman, then Third Ward alderman and chair of the Legal Committee, was inspired to take this action by two things: a report that a brick had fallen from the site of the demolished building, narrowly missing someone walking on the sidewalk; and word that someone had expressed interest in acquiring the property and actually following through on developing it as a hotel.

When he appeared before the Legal Committee, Cohen said that the stabilization process, which at that point had taken five years, was "almost complete," and it would be done by the end of the following month. The following month was September 2014. At the Legal Committee meeting in August 2014, Dan Tuczinski, who was then the assistant city attorney, reported that the City had requested a letter from a structural engineer attesting that the site was safe. Presumably, such a letter was received, but five years later, there are no plans for the building that have been approved by the Historic Preservation Commission or the Planning Board. Five years ago, Tuczinski told Cohen he had to present the "ultimate plans" for the site to the appropriate City regulatory agencies, admonishing him, "Time is of the essence." It is not known if plans were ever filed with the code enforcement office, but in the ensuing years they have never been presented to the Planning Board or the Historic Preservation Office. 
COPYRIGHT 2019 CAROLE OSTERINK

3 comments:

  1. The City should force Cohen to sell the building to someone who will proceed with reconstruction. He is a deadbeat property owner, and an embarrassment to the City.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sad for the 400 block.
    The two corners on 5th street are vacant.
    One a parking lot and the other a Galvan "keep off the grass" lot.
    then on the corner of 5th street is this dump.

    Only FACE exists as a viable honored corner now.

    ReplyDelete
  3. 4th corner - not 5th - dump

    ReplyDelete