Sunday, March 28, 2021

News from the HPC

Gossips already reported the biggest news from Friday's meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission--the "scaled back" plans for the entrance to Promenade Hill--but there were two other projects before the HPC on Friday that merit mention. The first is 59 Allen Street, the Charles Alger House.

Photo: Matt McGhee
Walter Chatham, representing the Galvan Foundation, began by saying that they were withdrawing the request to introduce windows in the tower on the east side of the house and to add a window perceived to be missing on the north side of the house. Chatham presented these revised elevation drawings for those two sides of the house.

Chatham also said that physical evidence had been discovered to indicate that there had been a tripartite window in the smaller gable on the south side of the house, similar to the one that appears on the east side of the house in the 1858 engraving, and Chatham is proposing reinstating that window. 

Chip Bohl, architect member of the HPC, commented, "Following physical evidence should be primary," and recommended, "When there questions, pause, take a deep breath, and look for more." Chatham suggested that they have an "agreement in principle" that, as they move forward, they keep the HPC informed "every step of the way." 

Phil Forman, chair of the HPC, said he would draft a certificate of appropriateness that would focus on the fenestration and would include nothing "that is in contention." Chatham reported the work on the roof would begin in earnest this week. The building is to have a new slate roof, which was approved by the HPC several months ago. 

Photo: Matt McGhee

Also of interest is 107 Union Street. The house is one of six houses that started out being identical--examples of late 19th-century infill housing. There is a trio of houses on either side of a much older house, 101 Union Street. 

The center house in the trio of houses east of 101 Union, 107 is the only house whose facade has been significantly altered. That was a project done during Urban Renewal in the early 1970s. The people who bought the house then have lived there ever since--up until a few months ago, when they sold the house. 

The house first came before the Historic Preservation Commission in November 2020. Its new owner has seeking a certificate of appropriateness to restore the house to its original appearance. Chip Bohl, the architect member of the HPC, hailed the proposed changes as "honorable and considerable" and added, "Hallelujah!" 

There were some questions about the width of the windows in the bay, and it was agreed the width would be the same as that found on the houses on either side, and the trim around the windows would match that found on the adjacent houses as well. The question that brought the applicant back to the HPC several times was that of the siding. The house had vinyl siding, and the HPC encouraged the applicant to discover if the original siding could still be found beneath it. That turned out not to be the case, and the resolution reached at Friday's HPC meeting was that the siding the applicant wants to use will to installed at the back of the house; the HPC will check it out and decide if it is appropriate for the front of the house.

The reason for giving attention to this house, the restoration of which is not controversial or problematic in any way, is that the house was the subject of the Facebook post by Alderman Rebecca Wolff, warning about "flippers on the loose in Hudson." The post appeared on March 14.

The purpose of Wolff's post is to encourage homeowners "struggling to hold on to your house or to find funds to do necessary repair" to contact her for information and resources. In the process of providing this information, however, Wolff states that the house "was sold for less than its asking price . . . then gutted--not renovated but gutted--and put on the market for more than 3 times what the new owners paid in February." I don't know what the original asking price was. In the 2019 reval, the full market was set at $434,000. Information available online indicates the house sold for $260,000. 

It is true that the current owner intends to sell the house and the new asking price is three times what it was purchased for, but it is not true that it is to be sold in its current gutted state. As the repeated appearances before the HPC indicate, investment is being made in the house. This information, which appears in the property listing on Trulia, provides insight into why the house is being marketed before the restoration/renovation is complete:
Are you ready to make your upstate NY dream a reality? 107 Union St. will have it all. It's currently undergoing a renovation inside and out and we want YOU to be a part of it. We are keeping beautiful original details like the plaster arch over the front bay  of windows and the stunning fireplace that anchors the dining/living space and goes into the bedroom above and updating the space for modern living. We are working with the Historical Committee to bring the exterior back to its former glory, too! If you're interested in picking your finishes and making this spectacular home on coveted Union St. yours, then please reach out. . . . If you want to create a unique, historical space without the headache of getting bids, permits, etc. this is the home for you!
It appears that the house is being marketed in a manner that, in my experience, is typical for newly constructed condos.  


  1. I don't understand the "red flag to homeowners". What is the danger to a homeowner of someone gutting and then selling a house. If anything, someone renovating a house, or gutting it and selling it for a higher price, raises the values of surrounding homes and has no bearing on the ability of someone to fix up their own house or obtain the funds to repair it.

    I understand there is a bit of unease and discontent among some residents with the changes to the city resulting from Hudson's increasing desirability as a residential/second home/tourist location, but for someone who owns a property here there are not a lot of downsides, except perhaps for increasing taxes. It seems that regardless of tourism, taxes are going up everywhere and the days of low rural undervalued taxes are long gone in the Hudson Valley. To enjoy a low cost hipster lifestyle, the thing to do would be to take advantage of the increased values, collect the profits and move to Maine, West Virginia, Detroit, or some other low tourist, low tax location.

    A second homeowner, or upscale new resident is actually beneficial to the homeowners. They increase property values, spend money locally helping businesses and contributing to sales tax while placing a lower burden on city infrastructure and resources. A second homer pays full tax but uses less water, creates less sewage and garbage, do not require free daycare or youth services and in general put more into the city than they take away.

    1. Amen! The constant need for some to criticize any sort of progress in Hudson is getting stale. Are we supposed to let all these old homes on Union Street deteriorate and crumble over fear of flippers coming in and making a profit? At what point does this NIMBY-ism stop new people, along with their money and tax revenue, from coming?