Before the Planning Board heard from the public on Tuesday about the two buildings proposed by the Galvan Foundation for North Seventh Street, it was announced that the project had received thirty-five letters of support. Those letters can be viewed here.
To address concerns about disrupting the neighborhood during construction, Galvan presented a construction sequencing schedule and said there would a "hotline" for residents to report any problems. Regarding parking, they maintained that they had met the demand for parking that would be created by the new buildings; asserted, using Bliss Towers as evidence, that the parking demand for affordable housing is lower than the national average; and announced that "in the last couple of days" they had acquired the parcel at the corner of North Sixth and Washington streets, where an auto repair shop is now located, and would be creating a parking lot for tenants there with forty spaces.
encouraged its supporters to attend, the majority of the public comments were in favor of the project. Quintin Cross, who said his family has lived in Hudson for more than five generations, lamented, "We just continue to be displaced," and asked the Planning Board, "Give us a win for a change." Sara Black declared, "We absolutely need this development," but questioned why there were so many one-bedroom units. Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) said, "As we've been watching gentrification take over . . . we have no more buts, because we have people who are losing their homes." She also expressed a desire for more affordable units and units with more bedrooms.
Displacement was a common theme in the public comments in support of the project. Claire Cousin said, "We are breaking our backs to help people who are being displaced." Joan Hunt of Promise Neighborhoods urged, "There is no more time to be lost as people continue to be displaced." Tina Sharpe of Columbia Opportunities, a tenant of the Galvan Foundation, attested that affordable housing was the "biggest, most pressing need" of her clients and spoke of families having to move out of Hudson. Greg Williams, who described himself as a "third-generation Hudsonite," told the Planning Board, "We have to take a chance. We have nothing else on the table." Randall Martin, who currently lives in one of the Galvan houses that will be demolished to build 75 North Seventh Street, also, in a video submitted to the board, voiced his support for the project.
The public comments were not entirely favorable. Margaret Morris noted that 138 new units would bring significant cost to the City and the school district, and the PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) being proposed were not sufficient to provide services for the tenants. The tax burden would be on homeowners. Morris also stressed that the majority of the 138 units would be market rate. According to the information presented previously by Galvan, 54 of the 75 units in the building proposed for 75 North Seventh Street would be affordable—34 for households with annual incomes between $23,000 and $42,000; 20 for households with annual incomes between $45,000 and $65,000.
Alderman John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward) alluded to the Galvan Foundation's extensive acquisition of properties in Hudson, many of which are now being warehoused, when he stated, "They have contributed to the housing crisis they now want to solve." He spoke of "large-scale, complicatedly financed projects" and said he wanted to see "developers work in a transparent manner," adding, "We haven't seen this from this developer." Alderman Rebecca Wolff (First Ward), who earlier in the hearing said she supported the project and "the need to make it the best project it can be," advised that "a discussion of financing should take place at the IDA meeting." Wolff and Garriga, as minority and majority leaders of the Common Council respectively, are members of the IDA (Industrial Development Agency), which is currently considering Galvan's request for PILOTs for the buildings.
Bill Huston, who described himself as "one of the few who are against this development," adding, "I live in the neighborhood; those supporting it don't," expressed concern about traffic and parking. He noted that the parking study which found 176 parking spaces available at night did not take into account alternate side of the street parking. He implored the Planning Board to take a closer look at parking and traffic. Planning Board member Larry Bowne said the board was "looking at bringing in an independent consultant to do a traffic study." A woman identified only as Lauren commented, "Spaces for people are a priority over spaces for cars."
The public hearing on the Depot District proposal will continue at the Planning Board's next meeting, which takes place on Tuesday, April 13, at 6:00 p.m. The next meeting of the IDA will place on Tuesday, April 6, at 1:00 p.m.
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