It has taken a week, but we have finally arrived at the final report about last Monday's informal Common Council meeting. This post deals with the Galvan Foundation's proposal to move City Hall to 400 State Street, the centuries old building that was constructed in 1818 to be the City of Hudson's almshouse.
The deal presented to the Council was a little different from the one announced on January 29. The land swap is off the table. Galvan originally wanted the vacant land across Washington Street from the Central Fire Station, but the Register-Star reported that Mayor Kamal Johnson was "wary of the city relinquishing ownership" of the lot. Dan Kent, Galvan's vice president of initiatives, explained on Monday, "If the swap is an impediment, we are willing to withdraw the request." Galvan would be "donating the building to the City and not asking anything in return."
Galvan has also upped the amount of the construction grant offered to the City from $1 million to $1.4 million, and the estimated construction cost has increased from $2.75 million to $3.3 million. In addition, Galvan is offering the City to up $100,000 "to explore the project." The Galvan Foundation would also donate the construction drawings and environmental reports.
Walter Chatham, who appears now to be the architect for all Galvan projects, presented the plan for adapting the building for use as City Hall. The plan includes an annex to be constructed behind the building which would house an elevator and restrooms. Departments visited by the public would be on the first floor. The offices of the mayor and the Common Council, as well as the Council Chamber, would be located on the second floor. The code enforcement office would be on the third floor, which offers a commanding view of the city.
Alderman John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward) pointed out that the most expensive plan for making the current City Hall universally accessible was estimated to cost less than $4 million and suggested that in moving City Hall, "We will be taking on debt beyond what you are proposing." Rosenthal was referring to Plan 4, which was presented by Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson in October 2019. That plan for 520 Warren Street involved an addition at the back of the building, with an elevator giving access to all floors, including the basement storage area. The building would be completely accessible from both Warren Street and Prison Alley. There would be additional office space, an improved Council Chamber, and the atrium that was part of the interior design of the original bank building would be opened up once again, and the glorious stained glass laylight would be visible from the main floor.
As he has in the past, Council president Tom DePietro questioned if the plans proposed by Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson for 520 Warren Street would satisfy the DOJ (Department of Justice). He was referring to the settlement agreement Hudson reached with the federal government after being sued for lack of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. His concern seems specious since the architects who devised the plan--the same architectural firm that did the feasibility study for John L. Edwards School, which he seemed to accept without skepticism--were specifically tasked with proposing "improvements necessary to provide access to City Hall consistent with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)."
Alderman Dominic Merante (Fifth Ward) asked about the library's plans to renovate the building. In 2005, the Hudson Area Library acquired the building in which it had been located since 1959 from the Hudson City School District. The intention was to restore the building and reconfigure the interior to improve its functionality as a library. Architects were hired, grants were pursued and awarded, a capital campaign was launched. The following is taken from a brochure prepared in 2007 or 2008 for that capital campaign.
What was planned was a phased restoration, doing work over time as funding was secured, much like the restoration of the Hudson Opera House, which happened over a period of almost twenty years. The costs assigned to each of the phases add up to $8,870,000. The first thing on the list, replacing the roof, was already accomplished when the library abandoned its plans and sold the building to Galvan. There are other things on the list--for example, "Exterior Masonry, metals, woodwork, chimneys" and "Windows & Exterior Doors," considered critical first steps in the restoration of an old building--that are not part of what Galvan is proposing for the building. Those two items added up to close to $2 million in the library's plan. Similarly, "Foundation Underpinning & Structural Repairs" for another $1.2 million is not part of what Galvan is proposing, nor is geothermal heating and cooling, part of a $1.7 million item in the library's plan.
It was suggested that the proceeds from the sale of 520 Warren Street, the current City Hall, and 429 Warren Street, now the location of the Code Enforcement Office, would be sufficient, along with the $1.4 million construction grant from Galvan, to finance relocating City Hall to 400 State Street. City treasurer Heather Campbell pointed out that the sale of buildings had been talked about as a means to build back the City's depleted fund balance.
DePietro concluded that discussion by saying, "We are going to pursue this more, in public."
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