Sunday, July 26, 2020

What's Happening with the DRI

The DRI Committee continues its work, with little input or oversight from the public. Granted there was the public meeting on July 13 about plans for Promenade Hill, and this week, on Wednesday, there will be a walking tour and workshop with Arterial and Street Plans about the connectivity project, now being called "Hudson Connects," but when it comes to the Dunn warehouse and the City-owned parcels along Water Street, there is no transparency.

In June, many were blindsided by a resolution passed by the Common Council authorizing a new Request for Expression of Interest (REI) to be issued for the Dunn building that included the three City-owned parcels north of the Dunn site. It will be remembered that Bonacio Construction from Saratoga Springs, best known for their residential development, was the only company that responded to the original REI, and the suggestion that the three parcels be included came from them.     

Today, seeking an update on the planning for transforming the Furgary Boat Club into a city park, I discovered this in the summary of the DRI Committee meeting for July 15, under the item "Call with Bonacio Construction (Larry Novik and Amber Mathias)." There is no information in the summary about who from the DRI Committee was part of that call.
  • Informal discussion with Bonacio on the possibilities for the Dunn Warehouse site, with or without the addition of the north parcels, and the overall vision and implementation plan for the area, including KAZ site status.
  • Ideas about affordable housing, including high-level discussions about Area Median Income (AMI) targets and mixed income opportunities were discussed. City objectives related to the availability of homeownership for all income groups were discussed alongside development approaches that would yield affordable home ownership options. 
  • 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 units can be spread out more across space.
  • It was discussed that the site is subject to an environmental easement, which is discussed in detail in the Feasibility Report by Saratoga Associates. 
  • Potential financing was discussed, including Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) and DRI funding possibilities (e.g. potential financing for infrastructure, site preparation). 
  • A need to understand the City’s desires as it relates to the site goals and development strategy, including potential affordable and market rate housing and rental or ownership structures will help shape a better understanding of price points, tax burden and related financing objectives/needs.
  • No promises or commitments were made and it was understood that KAZ is owned by the Hudson Development Corporation. 
As Gossips has reported before, the public discussion of the best adaptive reuse of the Dunn warehouse has been going on for years. There have been lots of suggestions about what the building could become, but all of them had to do with some public use, something that would benefit and be accessible to everyone in the city. The idea of developing the Dunn warehouse or any part of the area across Water Street from Henry Hudson Riverfront Park as housing was never suggested much less embraced. But now, with no input from the public or even the public's awareness of what is going on, the DRI Committee is discussing, with a developer, devoting all that open and public space to affordable housing. 

There are much better sites for such development. North Fourth between Columbia and State springs to mind. Let's hope the consultant the City hires to create a plan for developing affordable housing recognizes that turning this potential parkland and open space into a site for affordable housing is a bad idea. 


  1. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. Government, since the time of the Revolution (and before), hates transparency, as this little tale so amply demonstrates. We can thank our Founders for the First Amendment and thank Carole for making use of it!

  2. In a legal opinion provided by Jeff Baker to Common Council President and DRI Committee member Tom DePietro, “Baker said ‘The DRI Committee cannot take any action, so it is not subject to open meetings law’" (TGOR, June 17, 2020).

    The claim is nonsense, particularly as the DRI Committee is making – and is expected to make - discretionary decisions on a range of issues such as project budgets and the exercise of spending power on behalf of City government.

    By the definition of the Open Meetings Law, a "Meeting" means “the official convening of a public body for the purpose of conducting public business” (§102. Definitions).

    §100 Legislative declaration [of Open Meeting Law]:

    "It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that the public business be performed in an open and public manner and that the citizens of this state be fully aware of and able to observe the performance of public officials and attend and listen to the deliberations and decisions that go into the making of public policy. The people must be able to remain informed if they are to retain control over those who are their public servants. It is the only climate under which the commonweal will prosper and enable the governmental process to operate for the benefit of those who created it."

  3. With all the recorded hopes and desires of many of the public for an open and accessible public waterfront that have been expressed during the fight against the cement plant (1998-2005), the recommendation at the end by Randy Daniels, Secretary of NYState encouraging the same, the studies by the misbegotten Waterfront Committee, the outpouring still ongoing now over the Colarusso's ignoring the Zoning laws from 2011, and as far back as Hudson's own Comprehensive Plan - so far back I can't remember the date, it is will beunconscionable for Hudson's governing body to allow such a proposal behind closed doors. If something like that ever gets passed I'll really throw up. Wake up people. And thanks for the digging Carole.