As Gossips predicted, the four parcels owned by Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA) and sought by the Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) were a topic of discussion at yesterday's HCDPA meeting. The meeting started out with a discussion of the agency's finances, which involved deciding which invoices to pay and which to wait on because there wasn't enough money in hand to pay them all. With that in mind, when the meeting got to the discussion of HCDPA properties, Mayor Kamal Johnson suggested, "The conversation should start with what property we intend to sell." Johnson went on to say that he supported allowing the remaining properties to be included in HHA's RFP (request for proposals) for a developer. Revonda Smith, chair of the HHA Board of Commissioners, objected. "We want all of the properties," she insisted and suggested that HHA could make a down payment "to keep HCDPA going." It was estimated that $25,000 would be sufficient to ensure HCDPA's existence for another year.
The four parcels in question are 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 at the western end of Warren Street, now a kind of Urban Renewal era park).
Smith wants to offer all of these parcels as potential building sites in HHA's RFP and let developers decide which would be most appropriate. HCDPA would agree not to sell any of the parcels in exchange for a nonrefundable payment from HHA of $25,000. HCDPA anticipates selling the parcels HHA decides it wants at below market value. At the end of the discussion, Johnson outlined the next steps as "the attorneys speak and present some options for agreements" between HCDPA and HHA regarding the disposition of the parcels.
Of the four parcels, 2-4 Warren Street presents something of a dilemma. In the tax rolls, full market value of the parcel is set at $14,117, but given its location at the end of Warren Street, across from the newly redesigned entrance to Promenade Hill, it could probably fetch a lot more on the open market. An appraisal done in 2018 set the value at $120,000.
Up until 2018, what is now considered two lots--2 and 4 Warren Street--was actually four parcels. Two belonged to the City of Hudson; the other two belonged to HCDPA. In the summer of 2018, the Common Council approved a land swap. The City gave HCDPA its part of the property at the end of Warren Street in exchange for Thurston Park, the pocket park in the 200 block which had been the property of HCDPA. The intention of the swap, along with making Thurston Park an official city park, was to create a single lot on which to build something to replace the buildings, visible in the photograph below, that once stood there and complete the streetwall.
In 2020, when Arterial first started showing its designs for the intersection of Warren and Front streets, designs that perpetuated the lot as a public space, members of the HCDPA Board had to be reminded that the agency owned the property.
Now, HCDPA and HHA want to leave it up to a developer to decide the use of this parcel, but given its location, its effect on the character of the city, and its potential for producing tax revenue, deciding the use of this parcel should be a larger conversation. HCDPA seems content to forgo significant income and sell the property to HHA at a reduced price, but given the larger ramifications of this decision, more voices need to be heard. It is not just HCDPA's capital gain that is at stake. As the site of subsidized housing, this lot and whatever structure is built on it would be exempt from property tax. The City would have to forgo significant potential income--income needed to pay for the city services everyone expects--in perpetuity. In the past, there have been people on the HCDPA Board who would appreciate the importance to the entire city of what happens with this site. In the single-minded determination to create low-income housing, that doesn't seem to be the case anymore.
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