Sunday, December 5, 2021

The Pocketbook Factory and the IDA

The Hudson Industrial Development Agency (IDA) meets this Wednesday, December 8, at 1:00 p.m. The public hearing on the proposed redevelopment of the Pocketbook Factory took place last Tuesday, so it is likely that at Wednesday's meeting the members of the IDA will vote on whether or not to grant the financial benefits sought for the project. The investment being made in the redevelopment is estimated to be $25.6 million. The benefits being requested amount to just over $1.3 million: sales tax exemption on materials used in the project ($800,000); mortgage recording tax exemption ($478,979); PILOT agreement ($112,500).

At the public hearing last Tuesday, Claire Cousin, who identified herself as representing the Hudson/Catskill Housing Coalition, spoke of letter that had been submitted to the IDA by a group calling itself the Community Benefits Alliance of Hudson--a group made up of housing advocates like Cousin and some residents of the neighborhood. Cousin read the letter aloud at the hearing. The following are the "asks" presented in the letter, quoted directly from the letter.

Neighborhood asks (For the neighborhood) (4)
    • Engagement process with neighborhood, separate from city-wide communication; developing clear channels for addressing problems or requests. This includes clear communication to neighbors (not digital) about construction schedule--any anticipated inconveniences re: traffic, noise, dust, roadblocks will be outlined and communicated to neighbors. Problems will be resolved through a formal community accountability system, a Community Advisory Board of 5-7 longtime residents of the adjacent blocks.
    • Commitment to minimize other changes/impact in neighborhood, including withdrawal from parking lot plans across street. The hotel should not become a driver for other adjacent changes. This includes the area across the street. The hotel will commit to preserving the existing neighborhood and/or will campaign for a full environment assessment of toxic dumping/known asbestos issues near 7th street lot.
    • Sound limits/time limits for outdoor PA system
      • [db(A): 7am-7pm=60,  7pm-10pm=55, 10pm-7am=50]
      • Amplified sound off after 10 PM outdoors
    • Help instituting a residential parking permit system
      • Literature provided to guests basically laying out what is residential [and] what is not
      • Co-sign legislation that addresses the permit system

Use of Space asks (Retail, Event space, offices, Yard) (4)
  • Limit on number of large events given the foot/car/catering etc traffic impact in residential neighborhood
  • Tenant applications for retail spaces also go through PBF Community Advisory Board (see above) 
  • Retail businesses must be locally owned and operated
  • Provide indoor or grounded covered outdoor space to campers at Oakdale in the event of avoiding a rain cancellation.

Employment-related asks (3)

  • 50% percent hiring from Hudson city-proper

  • Housing support provided for a certain amount of local hires (direct or subsidized)

  • Protection of workers to organize - unionize

 Initiatives (2)
  • Promote car-free tourism and use of city through shuttle system and networking with other hotels
  • Visitor impact communication with guests and clients - how can PBF educate people staying at their hotel about contemporary housing issues in Hudson?

City Improvements (5)

    • Help make surrounding area more pedestrian friendly: level sidewalks and paths around Oakdale
    • Fund created to offset real estate tax increase for long time home owners in the area
    • Donating money to rebuild the Oakdale playground
    • If the HYC does end up doing paid Oakdale beach passes for tourists, the hotel would purchase a limited number of passes to maintain predominant use of the beach by locals
Cousin concluded that approval of the project was inevitable, there was no point in trying to stop it, but these "asks" were being presented for the IDA's consideration.

Kaya Weidman of Kite's Nest, Suzanne Snider, a neighborhood resident, and Quintin Cross of the Hudson/Catskill Housing Coalition, all expressed their support for the "set of commitments" outlined in the letter. Weidman said it was important "to offset the negative impacts" on the community. She reiterated the request made by Cousin at an earlier IDA meeting that the proposed hotel accept homeless vouchers "to enable homeless people to stay in the community."

The link to the recording of the public hearing, which lasts for 36 minutes, can be found here.


  1. And where was this absurd list of requirements for Galvan's Bliss Towers north housing project on 7th Street? Once again, the same small group of ant-business agitators trying to block economic advancements in the city. If this building was to be a low income housing project what would we hear from these folks, not a peep. Ridiculous.

    1. EXACTLY ! Why is it that people are capable of requiring adjustments (however strange) for this project but nothing for Galvan's monstrosity? Outrageous and a good reason not to deal with the cast of characters in Hudson.

  2. I can't believe that amplified music is going to be allowed outside in that courtyard. It is a really dumb idea which is going to make many of us neighbors really upset. That, together with the parking nightmare and things will get ugly. B huston

  3. Legally, the City, the County and the State, have the authority to apply taxes, and collect them. the City would have to administer these requirements i think. i may be wrong. Perhaps John Friedman could advise us, or another local lawyer.

    Columbia County has an unemployment rate of 3.3 percent as of September of 2021.

    Requiring staff to be local may be a problem if the rate of unemployment is so low.
    Requiring a labor union for a wide range of jobs would also be a problem. the records show that there are few unemployed people here.

    The world is complicated enough. All of Hudson is an Opportunity Zone designated by the governments to create jobs in the standard ways that jobs are created in the United States at this time.

    I do not think it is legal to "ask" and get all of these requirements from investors who have to risk money to provide businesses that will create employment the normal way. The Opportunity Zone was created to do it the normal way, a way that is already fraught with risks.

    what if the economy tanks ?

    People in Hudson have benefited from jobs created here. the City has been a well managed place to live for the poorest and the more well off.

    Looking at cities like Chicago, St Louis, and Baltimore tell a different story, a story of rampant shootings, extreme violence, and rampant crime everywhere.

    Hudson is safe, stable, with access to health care a few blocks away.

    These projects like the Pocket Book Factory are good for the city, and fostered by the State and the Federal government to provide real jobs to this location.

  4. The unabashed entitlement in Cousins' letter, echoed by the usual cast of Red characters, is stunning in its depth and breadth, and I hope the sponsors of the project shred that letter as soon as they receive it. That's not to say that they shouldn't continue to work towards a community-friendly project and outcome -- but they should feel confident enough in their plans to ignore the demands of those who offer nothing in return except another set of demands.

    Investors should be able to operate within the law without having to spend their time dealing with childish demands from those who don't contribute to the city in any meaningful way. This is especially true given the complete train wreck the Planning Board has become in most instances. Having survived the Planning Board, these investors should be given a cookie, not a series of demands from the entitled.

    1. It will be a challenge for these developers to hold onto any goodwill towards Hudson after being treated like this --- especially if they have any awareness of how Galvan is treated. Sad!

  5. Homeless people can reside is a $23.5 million hotel. Be sure and give a big thumbs up.

  6. P. Winslow makes a good point above-- where were the "housing advocates" when Galvan projects were being proposed, including generous PILOT programs?

    The danger here is that good private investment is discouraged and we become a town full of low income housing projects. Not only is that bad economics-- there is also a social justice case to be made against the concentration of too many economically challenged people in one place.

  7. What a shakedown. You’d think they think it’s called the “Pickpocket Factory.”

    I think it’s only fair they get the same tax benefits and community stipulations that Galvan got for its mega project. At least this project will probably generate taxes and not be a drain like the Galvan project. Personally, I don’t think any of them should get Pilots. Hudson is not lacking in people wanting to invest. But fair is fair. It’s so funny seeing the Galvan shills on the council and the adjacent astroturfing “community” groups do a 180 between these two mega projects, arguing the opposite points, depending on which.

    1. The s project, at least, has the potential to bring in revenue, and utilizes an existing property in need of some TLC.

  8. There is also an employment aspect that the social justice warriors are not taking into consideration. The renovation of the Pocketbook Factory will generate a significant number of good-paying jobs, and once it's up and running there will also be permanent jobs. The same cannot be said for Galvan projects.

    1. Please don't call them social justice warriors. Social justice isn't their goal-creating a patronage system they control is their goal.

      Having said that, I'm not sure how many 'good-paying' jobs this project will actually create, or what number you feel determines 'good-paying.'