At the last meeting of the Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA), which took place this past Wednesday, Nick Zachos, interim director for Hudson Housing Authority, and Brian Lawlor, attorney for HHA, were present to make the case for HCDPA allowing HHA to include its properties in an RFP for new development. Zachos told the HCDPA board that the housing authority was "undergoing a pivot." Zachos said the plan to maintain Bliss Towers for another 10 to 20 years was not viable, and they were moving forward on looking for developers. Zachos then turned the floor over to Lawlor, the attorney.
Lawlor asserted that "in order to truly replace Bliss, we need additional sites." Those additional sites are the parcels owned by HCDPA. Lawlor spoke of a "comprehensive plan to address Bliss" which would "deconcentrate poverty" and "expand the supply of affordable housing" in Hudson. He stressed the "critical importance of having these sites as part of the plan."
There are four parcels owned by HCDPA that have been under discussion: 238 Columbia Street (a single building lot), 202-206 Columbia Street (what remains of the Community Garden), 2 to 12 State Street (land that has a steep drop-off), and 2-4 Warren Street (a vacant lot now used as a kind of park).
In March, Zachos talked about the need to "maximize every property around them" in order to carry out a relocation plan. At that time, 202-206 Columbia Street and 2 to 12 State Street seemed to be the parcels that were most desirable to HHA, and there was little interest in 2-4 Warren Street. On Wednesday, Revonda Smith, who chairs the HHA Board, declared, as she has many times before, that HHA wanted to include all the HCDPA parcels in the RFP and "let the developer decide which they want."
Lawlor, from the firm of Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna, only recently became the attorney for the Hudson Housing Authority. The firm's website provides this information about him:
Brian Lawlor's practice focuses on affordable housing and housing finance to which he offers deep industry knowledge and contacts as well as firsthand government experience. He has advised and represented private developers, not for profit organizations, state and local governments across the nation. . . . Previously, Mr. Lawlor was the Commissioner/CEO of all New York State's housing agencies, collectively known as New York State Homes and Community Renewal. He successfully designed and led the initiative to consolidate all housing finance, development and regulatory agencies and policies under a single management structure in order to align resources and streamline the delivery of housing services and financing throughout the State.
At Wednesday's meeting, Lawlor spoke of the plan to deconcentrate and expand low-income housing in Hudson as a "collaboration of the Hudson Housing Authority, the Common Council, the mayor's office, and the State."
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