Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Circling Back to the Dunn

The two climate adaptive designs proposed for the Hudson waterfront that were on display in riverfront park on Saturday both showed Water Street either rerouted or replaced by a reinstated Franklin Street to allow the site of the Dunn warehouse to be contiguous with Henry Hudson Riverfront Park.

That fact, and hearing a member of the design team explain they were anticipating the building being put to some public use, made me wonder what was happening with the Dunn warehouse. 

In 2017, the City received a $500,000 Restore NY grant for the Dunn building, and $1 million in DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) funds has been earmarked for the Dunn building, with the contingency that the City have a development partner. In April 2020, a repair was made to the roof of the building, meant to stabilize the building until further restoration could take place.

The last information Gossips had about the Dunn building was reported this past January, when the Common Council passed a resolution authorizing an RFP (request for proposals) for the restoration and redevelopment of the building. There has been no word since about that RFP, so I decided find out what I could.

It turns out there were no responses to the RFP that was issued in January. According to the mayor's office, because there have been two unsuccessful RFPs, the City can now pursue a negotiated sale of the property. That doesn't seem quite right. There have not actually been two RFPs. 

In March 2020, the DRI Committee issued a request for expressions of interest (RFEI) for the redevelopment of the Dunn building. That appeal solicited one response, from Bonacio Construction in Saratoga Springs. At that time, Bonacio expressed interest in the Kaz site (which since then has been sold to South Front Street Holdings LLC) and the three parcels along Water Street north of the Dunn warehouse. Bonacio maintained that "the additional parcels would be needed to round out the Dunn redevelopment site and make a potential investment viable." 

In June 2020, the Common Council passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to issue a new RFEI that included the three City-owned parcels north of the Dunn building. It is not known, at least not by Gossips, if that new RFEI was ever drafted or released. The RFP (request for proposals) that was issued in January 2022 did not include the three adjacent parcels. That RFP stated that the city intends to "maintain long-term control/ownership of the site" but intends to "sell the building itself to the successful respondent." Now, apparently, it is believed that the City can pursue a negotiated sale of the building, which is one of the last surviving historic buildings on the waterfront. 

Selling the building, though, seems to run counter to what most people want for it. Recently, Councilmember Ryan Wallace (Third Ward) told Gossips, "Anything that we do with that building, I would love to see it made for public access. Riverfront concessions, bike rentals, kayak rentals, etc. It can serve as a gathering place." Add to Wallace's aspirations for the building a wine bar, a snack bar offering hot dogs and lobster rolls, and an all-season farmers' market, and you have what most people over the years have imagined for the Dunn warehouse. Somehow none of that seems likely if the building is sold to some for-profit enterprise.

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