On Friday, the Historic Preservation Commission held a public hearing on the two apartment buildings proposed by the Galvan Foundation for North Seventh Street, the area of the city Galvan has dubbed "The Depot District." The public hearing was prefaced by a presentation by Walter Chatham, architect for the project, which provided additional visuals to show the buildings in their context. The following images are screen captures from an animated "fly through" created to show the mass and scale of the buildings in relation to other buildings, real and contemplated, in the neighborhood.
—the replicated Orphan Asylum and the flatiron building—were not actually being proposed at this time, lest Galvan be accused of segmentation.
Needless to say, the public hearing brought out the housing advocates to speak in support of the project. Former First Ward councilmember Rebecca Wolff, reading a prepared statement, called upon the HPC to demonstrate how it can collaborate with developers and show "how the city's various communities and actors can work together." Quintin Cross told the HPC that he, as a member of the Common Council, had voted in support of the preservation ordinance that created the commission back in 2003. He said of the project, "This will allow people like me to stay here and visit their grandparents in the cemetery" instead of being displaced to Albany or Schenectady. He appealed to the HPC to "think about people who look like me and have the same socioeconomic background that I do."
Mayor Kamal Johnson spoke of the city's housing crisis. "Schools can't find tutors and coaches," he told the HPC, "because there are not enough full-time residents." He also mentioned, as he has before, the loss of the birthing center at Columbia Memorial Hospital. Responding to the HPC's concern with the compatibility of the buildings with the city's architectural fabric, he declared, "Nothing is less Hudson than not having Hudson people live here."
Michelle Tullo, Hudson's housing justice director, expressed the opinion that the buildings fit architecturally with the rest of the city. Kaya Weidman, executive director at Kite's Nest, declared that the development is "absolutely critical" and shared the opinion that it "fits with the character of Hudson." She continued, "The people we are losing are families and young people. We cannot afford to put this off," and argued, "We cannot fuss with little elements of design."
Someone named Eddie Taylor told the HPC he had recently been offered a job as chief diversity officer with a major employer in Hudson but had to turn it down because he could not find a house in Hudson for his family. He surmised, "It's about growing the city and maintaining the city."
In support of the HPC and its concern for the architectural character of the city, Kristal Heinz stated, "The character and design of the city are what draws people here," and asserted, "Without tourism, we don't have anything." Matt McGhee talked about aesthetics, declaring that "aesthetics are part of our lives." He said of the proposed buildings, "They can be lived in, but they can also be beautiful," maintaining that that everyone benefits from living in an environment that is aesthetically pleasing.
When the HPC began its discussion of the project, it became clear that changes had been made, in response to comments from the HPC, to the design of the storefronts on the building proposed for the east side of the street, once identified as 708 State Street and now being identified at 76 North Seventh Street.
The original plan for the facade of the commercial ground floor had a uniformity in the storefronts that the HPC considered to be "too suburban" and not reminiscent of the variety found in the storefronts on the 19th-century buildings along Warren Street.
The revised design extends the brick down to street level and introduces a variety of materials and awnings into the storefronts.
Chatham said that he "heartily supports the goals of the HPC." He told the HPC, "We don't want to wreck the city. . . . You don't want a slapdash building. Neither to we." He went on to suggest, "Maybe we could get the overall buildings approved and come back for the storefronts."
In the revised design, it is not just the storefronts that were altered. All of the fenestration was changed. On the upper floors, there are fewer windows, spaced farther apart, which appear to be smaller than they were in the original elevation. Originally, there were 22 windows in the facade on each floor; in the revised design, there are only 15. It was undoubtedly this that prompted Chip Bohl, architect member of the HPC to urge that "the proportion of the windows and the relationship of solid and void should have some more attention." He noted that the windows above the commercial space were all the same, and, owing to an optical illusion, the windows in the mansard roof appear to be larger than the others. Typically, as evidenced by this 1893 image of 501 Union Street, the windows in the mansard roof are smaller than those on lower floors in a building.
Bohl argued, "If we don't make good housing that is attractive, the project will not be sustainable. We have to ask ourselves, 'Is this a place where people will want to live in 25, 50, 75 years?'" He spoke of the Pocketbook Factory and the now lost Gifford-Wood building, calling them "handsome buildings that were built for the long haul."
He urged his colleagues to consider "handsome" as a goal for the building's design and argued that, in addition to the functional aspect, the proposed buildings needed to be "a place that will sustain housing for many, many generations."
Chatham told the HPC, "We cannot move forward to get construction documents done without a certificate of appropriateness from the HPC." HPC member John Schobel responded to this appeal by saying, "This is by far the largest thing that has come before the HPC. We do need to pause. If it is difficult, it is because it is gargantuan in scope." HPC member Paul Barrett concurred with Schobel, saying, "This is an enormous project, and the devil is in the details."
HPC member Hugh Biber opined, "The look harkens back to an earlier era with a modern sense. As it stands, I think this is a great project, and we have enough to move it forward."
In the end, it was decided to approve the project conceptually but not grant a certificate of appropriateness until more granular design issues were resolved. Although Biber commented, "If fenestration remains an issue, we can deal with it," fenestration was one of the elements included in the list of things HPC chair Phil Forman named in the resolution to give conceptual approval passed by the HPC, along with scale, roof, storefront design and structure, and massing.
COPYRIGHT 2022 CAROLE OSTERINK
The rendering looks like a prison, or some insane, gargantuan, Soviet era housing complex. Totally out of place and inappropriate for Hudson. How can a "certificate of appropriateness" be granted for something that is inappropriate? Once again, being pushed through by the same few actors who do not even live in Hudson. Put it to a referendum of the voters.ReplyDelete
Socialist Chic I guess, Hudson now to become an Eastern bloc country. it is a great way to make money, the Industry of Poverty.Delete
In your report you characterize Crystal Heinz's stale and shallow comments regarding what brings people to Hudson and why the City needs to make decisions based on pandering to what might easily be construed as the lowest and least sustainable form of human consumption, ie, tourism, as "in support of the HPC." This seems a grave underestimation of the talents and capacities of the HPC members to understand Hudson (and all cities) as places which evolve in order to best serve their residents. REBECCA WOLFFReplyDelete
Whew ... really out thereDelete
Rebecca you seem to be one profiting from the lowly insufferable tourists who stay in your Air BNB or buy real estate, perhaps from you, you capitalist in socialistic clothing.Delete
This comment was submitted by John Friedman:ReplyDelete
Carole, can you speak to the height limitations in the district (zoning district, not self-styled marketing district) and how these buildings can be 5 stories tall? As I recall, 45' is the limit in the city -- 9' (gross) per story?
I just had a conversation with Craig Haigh, our code enforcement officer, about this. He reminded me that he had initially determined that these buildings would have to go before the ZBA for a number of area variances--setback, lot coverage, and height. Jeff Baker, then city attorney and counsel to the Planning Board, opined that Haigh was misinterpreting the code and the project did not require the variances Haigh thought it did.Delete
Specifically regarding height, the 45', four story limit applies to the Central Commercial District, which is primarily Warren Street, but these buildings are proposed for the General Commercial Transitional District, which according to a careful reading of the code, has no bulk regulations.
The buildings are definitely out of scale for the neighborhood and for Hudson, even considering 25, 50, 75 years ahead. Are we planning tall buildings all over Hudson - I don't think so.ReplyDelete
We should remember that when Galvan first proposed this mega-development on little 7th street without any on-site/off-street parking, they touted the amount of greenspace that would be included on the property and which was going to be open to the public. Looking at the Revised Site Plan submitted to the PB last May, the area where Galvan now plans to place the flatiron building (at the corner of 7th and State, perhaps the most high profile spot on the plot) consists of the following greenery: a lawn, a raingarden and at least 7 trees. You can read it in Galvan's letters to the PB and their comments at meetings: "There will be much needed greenspace instead of a parking lot (Which the the city is not requiring of us anyway), which anyone from the public can utilise." The old bait and switch. The old "look at how much we care" crap. Such respect. Nobody does it with such brazenness as Galvan, it seems. What I don't understand is why Galvan can propose all these fairly significant changes AFTER the proposal was approved by the PB. Shouldn't they have to go back in front of the PB to get these changes approved? It sets a horrible precedent, doesn't it? You promised us trees and lawns and a rain garden and instead you want to build something made of concrete? Please explain! But to whom? Not the planning board!ReplyDelete
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Carole -- please be careful using Galvan's "depot district" term, which they created and is in no way an official name of the area of 7th and State, whatever its parameters are. When it isn't in quotes or said as "the so-called Depot District" (or not said at all) it only gives them more of a stranglehold on this city. Please ask yourself when writing posts about Galvan's developments in my neighborhood -- "Do I need to use that term depot district? Can I use something else or nothing at all?" Using the term only emboldens Galvan and encourages their entitled, disrespectful behavior. Give the term legitimacy and they (or other developers) will "name" another neighborhood... and another... until Hudson is no longer. Please be careful with the term they have foisted on us -- it is sinister, a well-chosen sneaky way of creating a dominion and all the benefits that fosters. It's subtle but effective. As we all know nowdays, repeat something often enough and it becomes true.ReplyDelete
Anyway, it's not Galvan's neighborhood to chose a name for, even if our Mayor is okay with it.
Knocking down a row of houses on a quiet residential side street and transforming a whole block into very urbanized apartment complex is not something that anyone should take lightly. This not only transforms the character of the neighborhood, it sets a precedent that will be eyed and followed by other developers in other parts of the city. Allowing this sets a wheel in motion that could have very negative consequences. If it was up to me I would send them back to the drawing board to come up with a plan that preserves the existing houses on the west side of the street and scales the buildings on the east side back to three stories. If there are no rules that limit the scale of buildings outside of the Central Commercial District it is only because in the past there was no perceived need for them. The conditions have obviously changed and the size limits for buildings should be expanded to include the entire city. In the residential areas, stricter rules may be needed to preserve the character of those areas and to restrict this type of development.ReplyDelete
None of those voicing support for this sure-to-be disaster live in the neighborhood, I guarantee that. They don't live in the 3 houses to be razed, having to be relocated. They rarely if ever enjoy the relative quiet of 7th Street on a walk to the nearby woods. They won't hear, smell, see or breathe the years of construction and all the additional truck traffic. Then dealing with the lack of parking because the city paved the way for a local developer to build 140 apartments with no on-site parking. No, they can only see the benefits.ReplyDelete
No. Just 'NO' to the whole damned thing. As usual, it's a Galvan boondoggle. We don't need this sort of housing. What we need is to get rid of the houses that are empty most of the time - the Airbnb short term rental housing. PLUS all of the empty housing that Galvan has been sitting on in excess of 10 years. No one seems to remember that he is warehousing properties that could ease the housing shortage. Cynthia LambertReplyDelete
Why are the usual Galvan adjacent astroturfing groups coming out in full force for an HPC hearing? This project has been approved by the Planning Board and they got their PILOT. All this is, as put by the Housing Justice Director, is "fuss with little elements of design." They seem to be arguing to keep things simple and cheaper for Galvan, which has nothing to do with the stated goals of their respective community focused organizations. Makes you wonder who's working for who here...ReplyDelete
You are right, they approved it. As was expected since 7 members of the Planning Board, Zoning Board and Historic Preservation Commission are all appointed by the Mayor. So as your little city is trashed there is really only one person at the top to blame, or the stupidity and political apathy of the voters.Delete