Thursday, December 9, 2021

PBF Hudson and the IDA: Update

This morning, the Hudson Industrial Development Agency (IDA) announced it would be holding a special meeting "for the purpose of discussing the PBF Hudson LLC project" on Wednesday, December 15, at 2:00 p.m. 

The plan for the redevelopment of the Pocketbook Factory was also a topic of discussion at yesterday's IDA meeting. The discussion began with Mike Tucker reporting that the applicant had provided a written response to the requests presented at the public hearing by the group calling itself the Community Benefits Alliance of Hudson. The written response, which addresses each ask made by the group, begins with this statement from Sean Roland and Gabriel Katz, the principals in the project:
Thank you for your letter, and for taking the time to share your concerns and asks of us at Pocketbook Hudson. Given our goal is to restore Pocketbook and transform it into a vibrant and inclusive space that creates positive social and economic impacts, we are very much looking forward to continuing a dialog with this group, in addition to the many ongoing conversations that we as locals are also having with area residents, community and business leaders, and elected officials.
In the spirit of openness, we have responded to each item addressed in the letter below, providing answers, context and highlighting potential areas for collaboration. Several of the requests have already been addressed by the City of Hudson Planning Board, while others are outside the scope of the IDA’s authority as the criteria for evaluating IDA applications are limited in scope and clearly defined by state law. For some of those items we have noted that we are open to continuing the conversation as members of the greater community who do want to work together collaboratively to find viable solutions.
The letter goes on to respond to every ask. Most of the responses were positive, often referring to the conditions already imposed in the Planning Board approval. A couple of responses are of interest.  
Ask: Provide indoor or grounded covered outdoor space to campers at Oakdale in the event of avoiding a rain cancellation.
ResponseIt is not feasible for us to provide “rain day” space for summer day or overnight campers due to logistics and liability considerations. However, in addition to provi[di]ng access for passive daytime recreational use of the courtyard, there will be flexible space available for local organizations to schedule in advance to book and utilize the “garden room” which will be a multi-purpose educational space on the ground floor.

Ask: 10% of income from hotel and restaurant goes towards the Hudson Housing Trust Fund
ResponseIt is not a realistic ask given that 10% of income is likely equal to or above the entire net operating income for the project, which would make it economically not feasible. We are investigating alternate methods that we can support the Hudson Housing Trust Fund. For example, the placement of a small percentage surcharge on guests’ checks, which could then go towards the fund. In addition, the project is estimated to generate over $100,000 a year from the 4% Hotel Occupancy tax, and with the lobbying efforts of constituents, the City Council could choose to allocate a portion of the revenue to housing or other identified needs. 
Tucker told the IDA that he was setting up a meeting with the applicant and members of the "alliance."

They then reviewed the criteria the IDA must use to make its decision about the project. These seven criteria apply to all categories of projects. (The relevant project information in provided in parentheses.)
  1. Extent to which a project will create or retain jobs (65 construction jobs; 63 direct hires)
  2. Estimated value of tax exemptions (calculated at just over $1.3 million, an amount that is shared with Columbia County and Hudson City School District)
  3. Amount of private sector investment ($25 million)
  4. Likelihood of project being accomplished in a timely fashion (completion is expected in 2024)
  5. Extent of new revenue provided to local taxing jurisdictions (anticipated property tax revenue over next 10 years with no development is $292,000; tax revenue under proposed PILOT is $1 million) 
  6. Any additional public benefits
  7. Extend to which a project will provide local labor construction jobs.
In discussing the commitment to hire Hudson residents, Roland said the commitment being proposed was "in the same parameters as 620 Union"--the hotel project approved by the IDA for financial benefits in 2020. Rebecca Wolff told him, "That was a major corporate developer coming from Nowheresville, but you should do better."

There are nine additional criteria to the considered for commercial projects:
  1. Regional wealth creation (% of sales/customers outside of the City)
  2. Located in a highly distressed census tract
  3. Alignment with local planning and development efforts
  4. Promotes walkable community areas
  5. Elimination or reduction of blight
  6. Proximity/support of regional tourism attractions/facilities
  7. City official support
  8. Building or site has historic designation
  9. Provides brownfield remediation
Taking up a theme introduced by Quintin Cross at the public hearing, Tiffany Garriga, who chairs the IDA, spoke of enforcement, saying she wanted to create a committee to monitor the project to make sure they are meeting the requirements they agreed to. Christine Chale, counsel to the IDA, told her the IDA is responsible for doing this, adding, "In your policies, you have a process to do this."

The IDA is likely to vote on approving the PBF Hudson project at the special meeting scheduled for Wednesday, December 15, at 2:00 p.m.


  1. It doesn't bode well for the agency that the board members don't understand how the agency functions. We can do better, Hudson. We should do better.

  2. Who will be enforcing rules that the PB wrote into the approval of this project? Rules regarding parking for construction workers, employees, hotel and spa guests, and event guests. Rules regarding noise from the courtyard, volume and when amplified music etc must stop at night. Code Enforcement? No. DPW? Not their responsibility. That leaves HPD. Let's hope HPD has the time, personnel, knowledge and will to deal with parking and noise issues that will surely come. I doubt it.
    I wonder if Chief Moore has been approached about what HPD will be required to deal with at and around the PBF, also known as a predominantly residential neighborhood. B Huston

  3. I'm waiting for the IDA to start enforcing similar guidelines on Galvan projects.

  4. Reads very much like a shake down.Pay the protection or we will F--k up your project.

  5. So pleased to see this project unfold! The team this group has assembled are extraordinarily well suited to shepherd this fine building into the future.The timing could not be better.

    1. Eleanor - I'm thinking that you don't live anywhere near 6th and Washington in Hudson. Would that be accurate? B Huston

    2. Eleanor Ambos, who owned the Pocket Book Factory and saved it from falling down with a very good restoration way back, is dead, hence her foundation. I wish the new owners good luck, I don't live near the Pocket Book Factory but I do live near the new hotel project on Union Street and am looking forward to seeing them fulfilled. Their PILOTS are small and their benefits big compared to Galvan's projects.

  6. The Pocketbook project will produce a hell of a lot more jobs and economic upside than any of the various Galvan initiatives.