Toward the end of the meeting of the HDC (Hudson Development Corporation) Board on Tuesday, board member Nick Haddad reported on a meeting he and other board members had with representatives of Empire State Development (ESD) regarding the $486,000 awarded to HDC in the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) for the remediation of the Kaz warehouse site. Haddad described the meeting as a "come to Jesus moment" and reported that the message from ESD was: "You better get your act together, or the money might not be there." ESD wanted HDC to get back on track and develop a timeline for a new RFP process. They wanted a "game plan" within sixty days. It was suggested that HDC talk to the developers who made proposals in 2018--Bonacio Construction, Kearney Realty & Development, and Redburn Development--and see if, two years later, they were still interested.
Bob Rasner, president of the HDC Board, proposed appointing a small group to start the process of planning, a group that would include someone from the Planning Board. He suggested they consider how the 80-unit apartment building being proposed by Galvan Initiatives Foundation might affect the development of the Kaz site. He also shared what he had been told by a developer recently that "people cannot make residential properties work [financially] with only three stories." Board member Steve Dunn observed that HDC would need the City's cooperation with zoning changes. Haddad indicated that Mike Yevoli of ESD had made the point that "a group of volunteers cannot do this." Martha Lane suggested hiring a consultant.
When Rasner said he would be "chatting with people he hopes will serve on the ad hoc committee," Mayor Kamal Johnson, who is an ex officio member of the HDC Board, volunteered. He said he had been talking with Darren Scott of NYS Homes and Community Renewal about hiring Joe Czajka of Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress to create a master plan for development. As Gossips reported on February 14, Council president Tom DePietro said at the last HCDPA (Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency) meeting there was a plan to make Czajka the housing commissioner for Hudson. Now it seems the plan is to hire Czajka as a consultant, and Johnson proposed that HDC chip in $5,000 of Czajka's $25,000 fee. Responding to the proposal, Rasner said, "We need more conversation before committing to the Czajka plan."
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