Tuesday, February 16, 2021

News from the Planning Board: Part 2

Last Tuesday, at the Planning Board meeting, Brian Cohen and Michael Charles, the principals of Benchmark Development in Great Barrington, made a preliminary presentation to the Planning Board to get initial feedback. The project being proposed is for 11 Warren Street, property owned by the Galvan Foundation. Benchmark is planning to develop the property in partnership with Galvan.

Before looking at what's being proposed, it's worth remembering what was once there. The buildings that were on the east end of the block appear from the center and to the right of this late 19th-century photograph.

This is the building that stood at the southwest corner of Warren and First.



The screen capture below, from the 1959 film Odds Against Tomorrow, shows the first block of Warren Street in the late 1950s--intact on both north and south sides. 
 
Here's another picture of the block taken in 1973. 

Not long after the picture above was taken, all the buildings on the south side of this block of Warren Street were demolished as part of Urban Renewal in Hudson. The one building that was spared was 1 Warren Street, where Kasuri is now located. What was constructed in place of these buildings in 1975 was a strip mall called Parkview Plaza. Complete with off-street parking, it was meant to lure shoppers back from the malls of Greenport. In 1978, three years after it was built, without a single store ever having opened in the ill-fated mall, the bank foreclosed and took possession of the building.

In introducing their presentation, Cohen and Charles called the site an "iconic location" and talked about the use of traditional materials and the desire to design a building that "mixed in" with the architecture of Hudson. Their presentation included many renderings of the proposed building, including a cross section that shows parking below, retail on the first floor, and three stories of residential apartments above.










The apartments in the building--it is anticipated there will be 75 to 80--are to be market rate rental apartments. The parking garage at the bottom of the building, to be accessed from Cherry Alley, will contain 90 parking spaces. The last five renderings above, which don't present the context of the proposed building with great accuracy, were, Cohen and Charles explained, created to demonstrate that the structures on the roof, which are "mezzanines" that are part of third floor apartments, are set back in such a way as to be not visible from the street.

Reacting to the plans presented, Planning Board member Laura Margolis said, "I like this project," and spoke of the "intent to honor the historic integrity of Hudson. Steve Steim said the idea of "activating the space is exciting," but expressed concern that "mixed use developments can feel kind of artificial." He asked about the quality of the materials that would make the building "feel a little less artificial." Larry Bowne commented, "There's a way to honor scale and proportion and integrity of materials without engaging in a kind of Disneyesque, ersatz thing. . . . My own bias would be not to imitate the past."

Theresa Joyner asked who the tenants of the building would be. "My biggest concern is the need. Will it benefit the citizens?" She was told that this was a mid-market project to meet a significant demand for rental housing of all types in Hudson.

In his comments, Clark Wieman returned to the topic of design, commenting that "Hudson has a predilection towards historicism." He went on to say there is a kind of "faux historicism in development that people seem to know and like and approve." He argued there was a way "of referencing historic stuff without having to replicate it." It is of interest that Wieman, as director of planning and capital projects for Cooper Union, worked with Morphosis Architects to design and build the academic building at 41 Cooper Square, which was completed in 2009.

Wieman also expressed concern about the setbacks in the proposed design, saying that in an urban area setbacks can be unused and dangerous.

It will be interesting to watch how this project, proposed for one of Hudson's most significant locations, develops.
COPYRIGHT 2021 CAROLE OSTERINK

18 comments:

  1. The proposed plan offers a positive improvement on many levels as to the present state of the block.
    Now we need our City Gov’t to step up and provide a plan of action to accommodate the influx of visitors to our Great City. That would include parking, crosswalk safety and signage.
    The City should install traffic lights on Warren at Front, 1st and 2nd St. intersections.

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    1. Positive improvement? 90 cars, traffic lights on 1st and 2nd? You think that is positive? If people are nostalgic for NYC or Long Island they should move back there.

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  2. Looks like another oversized monstrosity that would permanently alter the neighborhood in a negative way. The illustration is deceptive and intended to make the buildings look smaller. This is a historic neighborhood, not a good site for an apartment complex and 90 more cars. Seems to me the best thing to build there would be a replica of the original buildings.

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    1. the current strip mall is "historic", representing the historic destruction of an authentic city.

      We now have a good design to replace the dead strip mall that seems to fit into the the rest of Warren St and gives a current dead zone some renewed life.

      Hudson needs these kinds of more sensitive developments, ones that add to the tax base but also keep the spirit of the city alive. Also, the developer is known to keep the rents fair and accessible, a key factor to consider.

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  3. What's the point of a historic neighborhood if there is no one around to enjoy it? Octogenarians have such hardened arteries in the brain that they cannot fathom the limited housing and lack of good paying jobs. Instead they focus on keeping things EXACTLY AS THEY WERE, FOREVER.

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    1. if your slack-jawed ageism wasn't so banal the irony of your nom de guerre coming from a novel thats over 50 years old might be worth laughing at.

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  4. I wish they would reconsider their massing along Warren Street. Walking around Hudson it is pretty evident that a continuous street wall is a defining features of the pedestrians experience and contributes to Hudson's sense of place. The historic image document such was the case here in the past. This project should fit with the character of hudson's urban fabric, and should be reconsidered to incorporate a continuous street wall.

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    1. Couldn't agree more, strange considering the architect of record on this project does bally hoo his CNU credentials. Unfortunately, the project seems to be centering the ersatz historicism of that congress, than its urban principals.

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    2. I would take it one step further. The destruction of the original streetscape was criminal. The correction would be to rebuild the original buildings and restore the street exactly as it was.

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  7. A small amount to pay for the safety of all people crossing the streets of our fair city.
    If Hudson is one of the best 11 small towns in America and continues to receive praises from all forms of communications than it is our obligation to insure that all residents and visitors have safe streets and intersection crossings.
    It’s not about now, it’s about what we can expect to be in the near future.
    And add crossing as in walk don’t walk to the list too.
    Thank you all for your very narrow minded opinions.
    The onrush of visitors is forthcoming and their safety is worth any amount of money.
    I forgot, what about the new traffic light and crossing signs recently installed near jiffy lube for pedestrian/bikers safety?

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    1. The traffic lights make crossing more dangerous, not less. The pedestrians can not easily see the light when standing at the corner making crossing difficult and dangerous. A four way stop is much better for safety as the drivers are required to stop and let the pedestrians cross. Eliminating traffic lights does not disrupt traffic, it moves along quite well without them.

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  8. I notice this market rate project has 90 underground parking spaces. It feels like this part of town is being treated with far more respect than the Depot District proposal with literally 6 parking spots and mixed market rate and affordable apartments. Is this going to be condos? Doubtless Galvan can cite design site issues or some such but it just feels like PARKING HYPOCRISY to me. Not that this is an approved final design....

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  10. Make certain the new buildings are actually in scale with the surrounding remaining structures - Galvan has a reputation of hiding facts - some things never change.

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  11. Those renderings don't look like faux historicism to me. They look like nice solid buildings rooted in tradition, and respectful of Hudson's existing architecture without a Disneyland vibe.

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