Thursday, July 30, 2020

About the Kaz Site

On Sunday, Gossips published an excerpt from the DRI Committee meeting summary for July 15, which reported on a phone conversation between unnamed committee members and representatives of Bonacio Construction. Bonacio, it will be remembered, was one of three developers that submitted a proposal for the Kaz site in 2018 and the only developer to respond to a request for expression of interest for the Dunn warehouse earlier this year. It was Bonacio apparently that persuaded the DRI Committee to add the three City-owned parcels north of the Dunn warehouse to what was being offered for development. In June, the Common Council passed a resolution to that effect.

Now, judging from what was reported in the meeting summary, Bonacio is suggesting that the Kaz site be added to the plan. The following is quoted from that meeting summary:   
By including more parcels--and combining KAZ, Dunn, and the two parcels north of Dunn, a project could have less density. The development needs to have a minimum number of units to achieve economy of scale for development and property maintenance. With more parcels, the unit can be spread out more across space.
A stumbling block for the master plan Bonacio may have in mind is the fact that Hudson Development Corporation, not the City of Hudson, owns and controls the Kaz site. On Tuesday, the Kaz site was an agenda item under "Old Business" at the HDC Board's monthly meeting.

The discussion started with board chair Bob Rasner reminding the board, once again, that the agency is "real estate rich and cash poor," HDC owns a large and valuable parcel that is off the tax rolls, and they need to take a serious look at "the disposition of the Montgomery Street property," a.k.a. the Kaz site, which now includes the parcel acquired from CSX in October 2019. 

In the matter of the Kaz site, HDC doesn't seem to have moved much beyond where they were last month. Nick Haddad reported that the Kaz Committee had not met since the beginning of the pandemic. The options, however, seem to have been narrowed to selling the whole thing to a developer and expecting the developer to "sell their vision" to the community, or subdividing the parcel and selling the individual lots. Haddad suggested that subdivision would result in "a more robust tax base." Haddad also expressed the hope that "what we do down there is representative of the whole city." Phil Forman, who, in addition to serving on the HDC Board, chairs the Historic Preservation Commission, opined, "We can help shape that upfront." Steve Dunn suggested, "We should reach out to the Planning Board and the city to get a sense of what they are looking for." If by "city" Dunn meant elected officials, the answer is probably predictable: affordable housing.

Back in early 2019, when Walter Chatham and Mark Morgan-Perez were on the HDC Board, it seemed the notion of establishing a street grid in that area to replicate the pattern of streets in the rest of the city was an idea with legs. Determining a basic format for development was thought by some to be more responsible than just turning a sizable tract of land over to a developer. It's not clear if this idea still has supporters on the HDC Board. Even if it does, it's not clear how the street grid would be designed or carried out. It seems to be a perfect job for the Zoning and Planning Task Force, the creation of which was announced by Tom DePietro in August 2018. Unfortunately, if memory serves, that group met only once, a year later in September 2019, and, according to the resolution that created it, ceased to exist in December 2019.

What should be avoided is a course of action someone articulated at Tuesday's meeting: "Turn it all over to a Bonacio, and let them plan it." It seems that the DRI Committee may be contemplating just that, not only for the Kaz site but for the Dunn warehouse and the parcels along Water Street as well.           


  1. To give context to what I said and the "should" word, is that the only development allowed as a matter of right on the KAZ site is housing (well part of the KAZ site - the CSX parcel portion of the "KAZ site" has a covenant running with the land prohibiting housing). Any other use, and also including subdividing, and installation of a street to connect Front and Montgomery Streets. (which I favor - off with my head for that), requires one or more of: a zoning change or variance, or both, an ordinance adding a street, and/or Planning Board approval, and the odds are asymptotically close to 100% that any purchase contract will have conditions precedent in it to the duty of the buyer to close to secure such entitlements of its choice. If what the buyer wants is unlikely to be secured, then the contract fails and we are all back to square one. Thus it is my opinion based on experience, and indeed warning: the HDC coordinate with the other parties that will be decision makers in this, as to what is feasibly calculated to be feasible, and what is not. We already have had one failed contract that tied up the property for over a year, with the buyer essentially having no money put up (skin in the game), before the buyer exercised its right to terminate the contract, or allow it to terminate, with no further liability. Once is enough. If folks think that the other decision makers' demands or requirements on this matter, are not in the best interests of Hudson, well, hey, that is what elections are about, and it would be nice if Hudson had more elections more focused on issues, rather than personalities, and tribalism, and mutual rivalries, suspicions, hatreds, and well. ... OK Steve enough already. It's time to stop pounding the keyboard. Less is more.

  2. I support the grid concept, and agree with Steve Dunn that zoning changes are required to make this a reality. Those changes could incorporate the ability to include affordable housing either in % of units or acreage (fractionally, too -- small city). Require development within a reasonable timeframe of purchase to prevent speculation, and a holding period of x years after purchase subject to springing secondary mortgages. It's not unheard of, it's a path to ownership and rental housing, enlarges the City's tax base naturally (without increasing rates) and could easily be an overall benefit for the city.

  3. To echo both Steve and John’s comments, I too strongly favor the grid concept as a starting point, with requisite zoning changes. The idea of housing mix, importantly with a path to ownership, need to be our true north as we consider all options. One more guiding principle as plans evolve: recognition of climate change and its impact on this vulnerable location.

  4. How many times is this can gonna get kicked down the road? Let's face it: nothing is going to happen with this site in our lifetimes. Good luck to the next generation!

  5. Why aren’t our local aldermen passionate about this grid idea instead of being so passionate about that awful plan for 7th Street?

    1. Holst- Jane Trombley is a first ward alderperson, and commented in this thread her support for the grid. She also voted against the GalVan grift. Thank you, Jane.