Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The Council's Choice

Two resolutions were introduced at the informal Common Council meeting last night. The first resolution would accept $100,000 from the Galvan Foundation for a feasibility study on relocating City Hall to 400 State Street. The second resolution would authorize the issuance of bonds not to exceed $475,000 for alterations to 520 Warren Street, the current City Hall, to achieve universal access. Both resolutions were motivated by the City's need to demonstrate progress in satisfying the terms of its settlement agreement with the Department of Justice.

It will be remembered that the Galvan Foundation has offered to give 400 State Street to the City for use as City Hall. Along with the gift of the building itself, Galvan offered $100,000 for the feasibility study and another $1.4 million toward the renovation of the building. The resolution now before the Council would accept the $100,000 for the feasibility study but would not obligate the City to pursue the project.

Regarding the second resolution, in October 2019, the architectural firm of Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson presented four plans to make 520 Warren Street ADA compliant. The plan the City has chosen to pursue is Plan 3, the least expensive one, which Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson estimated would cost $131,000. Sadly, the City is not considering pursuing the most expensive and most desirable of the four plans for 520 Warren Street--the one that would expose the building's glorious stained glass laylight. The estimated cost of that plan is less than what it would cost to renovate 400 State Street for use as City Hall.

In the discussion about the two resolutions, Alderman John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward) expressed the opinion that, given the need to move quickly, "the $475,000 bonding seems like a no-brainer." He said he had been told that the Galvan Foundation had received New Markets Tax Credits for 400 State Street, and the NMTC program mandates that they do renovations to the building before it is transferred to anyone. He opined that 400 State Street would be a "massive undertaking and incredibly expensive for the City to do." This picture, which Gossips took yesterday of the back of the building suggests how massive an undertaking it might be.

Rosenthal suggested that Galvan use the $100,000 to provide rent relief for people who are rent distressed or use it for Galvan Housing Resources "rather than wasting it on a study for us about a building that we won't be able to afford to move into."

Both resolutions were introduced. It will be decided which one the Council will proceed with at its meeting next Tuesday.

Addendum: Since this post was published, Dan Kent, of the Galvan Foundation, contacted me to provide this information: "Your post today regarding 400 State Street contained a factually incorrect statement from John Rosenthal. Galvan has not received any financing from the New Market Tax Credit program, or any other development financing, for 400 State Street."


  1. Is John Rosenthal the only council member that gets it. He has Galvan at la pegged for what it is. N.F.G.for Hudson aka Gallowayville. Hudson future is like a novelty candle ,2 yrs from now nobody will want it ..

  2. Mr. Rosenthal does appear to be the only member of the current Council who applies critical thinking to complex issues -- a skill the other members seem to have in short or no supply. Galvan isn't generous; it's a tax dodge. The "gift" might as well be shaped like a hollow horse.

  3. Just as an observer, I can't help but notice a number of things that if not a conflict of interest, certainly have the appearance of a conflict of interest.... How is it that entities with so much business before the city, like Galvan and Colarusso are also donors of so many items, like the work at Promenade Park, or in the instance of Galvan, the donation offered here, as well as the donation used for minority business grants in 2020... I am all for public giving, but it concerns me that the line between pay to play and generous benefactor can easily become muddied in the current circumstances.... Just one observation.

    1. Galvan trying to practically hand the city an ancient building that no one else wants or would ever want, no doubt. They are so generous.

  4. You don't need an advanced degree in structural engineering to realize that 400 State St. is an absolute mess. It wouldn't be surprising if $10 million is required to do an adequate renovation of that building. Galvan is stuck with it now, so maybe the City should enforce its 'derelict buildings' law and force them to bear the cost of doing it right, rather than foisting it off onto we the taxpayers.

  5. Addendum,Kent might be correct in his facts.Perhaps he should have said "has not received any financing, ( YET ) .