Sunday, May 29, 2022

The More Things Change . . .

The current discussion of replacing Bliss Towers reminds me of one that took place almost exactly twelve years ago. This post about it, published on June 14, 2010, deserves rereading: "The Future of Bliss Towers." 

At that time, what was being put forward was a four-phase plan. Phase One was the construction of a 37-unit building for seniors. (At that time, 30 percent of the residents of Bliss Towers were senior citizens.) The post from 2010 doesn't indicate where this building was to be constructed, but I seem to recall Columbia Street across from Providence Hall mentioned as a possible site.

Phase Two, which it was suggested could happen concurrently with Phase One, was creating temporary housing for the tenants in the remaining 95 units of Bliss Towers at various locations, none of which was actually identified.

Phase Three was demolishing Bliss Towers, and Phase Four was building 22 duplexes on the site.

The problem then, as it is now, was where to site all those units that had to be built to relocate the tenants before Bliss Towers could be demolished. Then as now, the Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) looked to the properties owned by Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA). In 2009, Jeff First, who was then the executive director of HHA, compiled a "wish list" of properties he had identified as "replacement sites" for Bliss Towers and presented that list to the Common Council in August 2010. It is interesting to take a look at what was on that list.

202, 204, 206, 208 Columbia Street  In 2010, this was a flourishing community garden. Today, only half of the garden remains. The other half is the site of two passive houses build by Habitat for Humanity in 2013. 

What remains of the site, which is once again being used as a community garden, is one of the sites now being sought by HHA.

234, 238, 240, 242-244, 248 Columbia Street  These lots, vacant in 2010, once comprised something familiarly known as "Diamond Park." Some were owned by HCDPA; others were owned by the City of Hudson. In January 2011, the Common Council voted to transfer ownership of the three lots owned by the City to Habitat for Humanity, and today those lots are the site of two duplexes, built by Habitat for Humanity--240-242 completed in 2012 and 244-246 completed in 2013.

The lot at 238 Columbia Street, owned by HCDPA, is still vacant and is one of the parcels HHA hopes to include in the RFP for new development.

444 & 446 Columbia Street  These two parcels were on First's wish list in 2010, but they had, at that time, already been given to Habitat for Humanity. In September 2010, when the picture above was taken, the foundations were being poured for the two houses now on the site.

213 Columbia Street  This lot, considered in the city code to be too narrow to be "buildable," was sold by HCDPA in 2018.

214 Prison Alley  On First's wish list, this was listed as a separate parcel. It abuts 213 Columbia Street and was sold along with that parcel.

16 North Second Street  In December 2009, when Jeff First assembled his wish list, this parcel, which is actually two lots --16 and 18 North Second Street--belonged to HCDPA. Tax records show that in January 2010 both lots were sold to North Second Street LLC for $2,500 each. In November 2009, North Second Street LLC had acquired 20 North Second Street, which was also on First's wish list.

20 North Second Street  This historic house, along with the two vacant lots beside it, were acquired by Digital Fabrication Works in January 2021 for $240,000. The plans for the site involve the demolition of the existing house and the construction of three new single family dwellings. The proposed project went before the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning Board last fall and was approved by both regulatory boards. Because the historic district ends at Prison Alley, the project did not come before the Historic Preservation Commission.

6-10, 10, 12, 14 State Street  This parcel along the lower end of State Street remains one of the parcels owned by HCDPA that HHA is hoping to include in its RFP for new development.

1 Lombard Street  When I took the picture above in 2010, I was guessing at the location, because Lombard Street no longer exists. I don't know if First knew the location or not. This parcel may be contiguous with the lots along lower State Street. If it is, HHA may be interested in this property in addition to the lots along State Street.

Corner of North Front & Dock Streets  Back in 2010, it was believed this parcel belonged to HCDPA. Today, it appears to be owned by Kite's Nest, and it is the site of their new greenhouse.

Mill Street  In 2010, I took the item "Mill Street" on First's list to refer to the former playing field of Charles Williams School, which had been officially designated as parkland in 2007. It turns out HCDPA does own a parcel on Mill Street, which is identified in the tax rolls as 48-54 Mill Street. The actual location of that parcel remains a mystery.

Back in 2010, the need to relocate the tenants in the Housing Authority's 135 units seemed an insurmountable challenge. Today, the challenge seems even greater. Of the eleven parcels on First's wish list, only one, half of another, and about one-fifth of another are still available for development.


  1. Thank you Carole for doing this work. Hudson has little institutional memory so Gossips is often the best place to research the City- a wonderful resource now that will also be window into our near-present for the future. An inventory like this is invaluable to have a conversation about growth and change and both manageable and good.

    1. Indeed, Carole's archives are most valuable.

  2. If a company was hired to renovate a home and they botched the job creating a decrepit and crumbling property, why would any sane person hire them to do it all over again? Are people here delusional? Turning over another square inch of property to the HHA should be prohibited after the mess they made. The housing market is fine in Hudson, these vacant properties should be maintained as open space or if developed sold publicly to whoever wants to buy and build a home there.

    We are a big country, I'm sure the Federal Govt. could find space in other areas to temporarily house the residents of Bliss Towers while the building is demolished and some other more appropriate housing is constructed in it's place. This is a problem of the HHA and the Feds, let them deal with it. It should not be the problem of local govt to provide temporary housing and help expand the footprint of the HHA. It's their mess, make them clean it up. At the drop of a hat they can come up with trillions of dollars to fight unending wars in other countries, surely they can come up with a few bucks to relocate and house US citizens residing in their own apartment complex.

    1. You are right.

      the HHA had a maintenance budget but none of the money maintained anything. In fact, after years of neglect, 25 % of the apts are uninhabitable -- unable to be occupied. That is failure to produce.

      I just do not think they can clean up the mess, or should be allowed to do anything further. why did the hole deeper ?

  3. I am surprised that Carole does not know the location of 48-54 Mill Street, inasmuch as it is right across the "street" from her beloved dog park.