Last night's informal meeting of the Common Council went on for three and a half hours and attracted, at its high point, forty-nine attendees. Predictably, the topic that inspired the most and most heated discussion was the resolution relating to the requests before the IDA (Industrial Development Agency) for PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) for the two buildings the Galvan Foundation wants to construct on North Seventh Street, in the "Depot District."
One of the buildings being proposed--75 North Seventh Street--will have "permanently affordable" apartments for low- and moderate-income households. The other--708 State Street--will be all market rate apartments. Galvan is seeking a PILOT for each of the buildings.
At last night's informal Council meeting we learned that the resolution had been drafted by aldermen John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward) and Jane Trombley (First Ward). The resolution makes these two recommendations:
- The Common Council encourages the IDA to decline the application for a PILOT tax abatement for the market rate rental housing development proposed for 708 State Street, Hudson, NY.
- The Common Council agrees with the PILOT tax abatement for the mixed-used rental housing development and encourages the IDA to stipulate that there will be NO involvement from Galvan Partners LLC, or any other for-profit subsidiary associated with any member of the Galvan Foundation, for any building management or construction management of either of the proposed building properties.
Everyone is probably familiar with the crew of Galvan Partners, often seen around town in T-shirts or hoodies with the Galvan Foundation logo or driving trucks with the Galvan logo on the door.
Last night, Rosenthal observed that Galvan was slow to rehab its inventory of properties--many of which have stood vacant for more than ten years--and make them habitable "because they only use Galvan Partners LLC to do the work." Aside from the contribution these vacant properties make to the city's housing shortage, there seem to be other questions surrounding Galvan Partners LLC, among them its relationship to Galvan Initiatives Foundation and other Galvan entities.
In October 2019, Galvan Initiatives Foundation sought and received a Rural Community Investment award of up to $1.15 million from New York State Homes and Community Renewal to renovate the basement at the Galvan Armory for use by the COARC daycare center, Starting Place. The documentation of the award (the relevant information begins on page 80) identifies the following "Project Team":
The document found on the Homes and Community Renewal website provides this description of Galvan Partners LLC, the general contractor for the daycare center project:
T. Eric Galloway, the Gal of Galvan, is identified as the principal of Galvan Partners LLC, but strangely, his role as as co-founder and president of the Galvan Initiatives Foundation is not in the description of the developer found in the same document:
Financing projects that have a public benefit with public money is a complicated process, one that seems to require the skill and expertise of lawyers to orchestrate. To the nonlawyer, though, it appears that, by hiring his own for-profit construction company to do work funded all or in part with public funds, Galloway may be funneling public money into his own coffers. That may not be the case, but, as Rosenthal stated at the Council meeting last night, "transparency about [the Galvan] operation has to be addressed."
The resolution introduced to the Council last night begins with this unequivocal statement:
WHEREAS, the Common Council fully and without reservation supports the development of Affordable and Workforce housing within the City of Hudson.
At the outset of the discussion of the resolution, Trombley stressed, "I want to underscore that the Council fully supports affordable housing." Still, the resolution brought criticism from some members of the Common Council, in particular Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward), who as majority leader chairs the IDA. Garriga protested, "People need housing," apparently ignoring the fact that separate PILOTs are being requested for the two buildings and the resolution was only recommending that the IDA deny a PILOT to the market rate building. When Rebecca Wolff read aloud portions of the resolution to illustrate that it was not recommending denying a PILOT to the building proposed for 75 North Seventh Street--the one with low- and moderate-income apartments--Garriga sniped she was capable of reading for herself.
Later, when public comment was invited, David Marston, who served as a First Ward alderman from 2012 to 2015, noted there were "dozens of vacant buildings in the First Ward" that are owned by Galvan and spoke of "dozens and dozens of families who were thrown out of affordable housing" as a consequence of Galvan acquisition. He concluded, "Now we are asked to give PILOTs to a developer to solve a problem he has created." Garriga countered by saying, "All I hear are attacks on Galvan," claiming she "didn't hear anything when [Phil] Gellert" was a major owner of rental property in Hudson. Responding to a comment made earlier by Trombley that the PILOTs Galvan was requesting were too long (the PILOT requested for 75 North Seventh Street is 30 years; the PILOT requested for 708 State Street is 25 years), Garriga stated, "Thirty years is the amount of time people live in their homes." Garriga went on to say, "The proposal is there now, and we cannot wait any longer."
As Council president Tom DePietro pointed out, the resolution is only a recommendation to the IDA; it is not binding. The resolution, which was introduced last night, will be voted on at the Council's regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, April 20, at 7:00 p.m.
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