Wednesday, June 15, 2022

HCDPA and Its Properties

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. 

At that time, Betsy Gramkow, then chair of the Planning Board and hence a member of the HCDPA Board, suggested that low-income housing on this parcel might not be "the highest and best use" for the parcel, and the development of a mixed-use building with market rate units would increase the city's tax base.

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.


  1. Just so we're clear, the directors of the HCDPA, a technically bankrupt City agency, are willing to give the HHA an option (that's what they're describing) to purchase unique and highly valuable property at a discount to build public housing that won't contribute to the tax rolls. Can someone, anyone, explain "fiduciary duties" to the board members?

  2. Are there any condo or co-op properties in Hudson?

  3. Totally ridiculous. A valuable property at the entrance to Promenade Hill, where a great deal of money has been spent - to sell that at a reduced price for low income housing makes no sense whatsoever. Can someone please explain the me the necessity of that, of the City not receiving desperately needed property tax income to stuff more subsidized housing in a prime spot. HPCDA board ought to to have their heads examined. And HHA should look somewhere else.

  4. There is a reason that HCDPA and HHA are always teetering on bankruptcy, due to their financial ineptitude as well as what John Friedman brought up, violating their fiduciary responsibilities (yes Members, look it up). Something very fishy going on here with selling valuable property under market value AND the audacity of allowing a developer to decide the outcome of the property use. There should also be a complete moratorium of allowing properties to be developed by not for profits. People, no tax revenue and selling properties for criminally below market rate = the demise of the financial stability of the City. The City must start requiring that at least 2 individuals who are Board Members of these Agencies, have business and financial experience, with the ability to assist in making financially sound decisions (fair market value comps, tax revenue expected, etc.), so that the Agencies are not flying by the seat of their pants?

  5. No more land should be turned over to the HHA, this is a proven dysfunctional organization. They hold a huge parcel of land in the city filled with crumbling poorly constructed buildings.

    Don't count on city govt to be fiscally responsible, there seems to be a resentment of the economic development in Hudson and the idea is to put the brakes on business and expand the hood. Good luck with that.

  6. The low rise is half empty, the unmaintained buildings are not habitable as are parts of Bliss Towers. HHA has a huge swath of property, the space the towers and low rise is on, as well as the land to the north of State St, from 2nd all the way down to Front St. That's a huge amount of property. Why any sane person would sell them more discounted land to build more cheap, tax exempt buildings that they don't properly maintain is beyond me.

    Anyone with a memory who has been here a little while knows that not too long ago lower Warren below 3rd Street, as well as Union and Allen, were full of decrepit buildings and boarded up storefronts. There were slum apartments, garbage in the alleys and rats and roaches ran through the buildings. Almost every night at 2-3 AM police sirens wailed as police rushed to lower Warren St to break up bar fights, stabbings and sometimes shootings. This is the good old Hudson that people are nostalgic for and want to bring back?

    Business and property owners did a huge amount of work and restored the neighborhood on their own, spending their own money without public assistance. These taxpayers shouldn't be asked to sacrifice and finance more tax exempt property and lost tax revenue to build more public housing.

    The city seems to like doing studies for everything else. Where is the subsidized housing study? Before any property is turned over to any non profit for subsidized housing, we need an inventory of existing subsidized and Section 8 housing units in Hudson. Lets see how many units there are and what the ratio is of those units to other housing units in the city. Determine what the actual need is and what the current burden is on the taxpayers compared to other municipalities before expanding housing that might be good for someone relocating from Albany or Poughkeepsie, but does absolutely nothing for local, taxpaying residents except degrade the quality of life and cost them more money.

  7. Why is this city so intent on becoming insolvent, driving out the middle class through property taxes, and squeezing in more low income housing in a two square mile community that already has more low income housing than anywhere else in the county and along the Hudson River?

  8. How can Members of both of these Boards be replaced? Their repetitive display of business incompetence must be addressed by applying a complete moratorium on their ability to sell property, until this is straightened out. Where are the obligations of Board Members spelled out, with remedies available to replace them, while a special Board is formed that is permitted to investigate their handling of real estate transactions? This entire situation with the City and its agencies is out of hand. There are very smart, experienced business owners and residents that show their savvy through some of the comments on this blog. Would love to see some of them replace the incompetent current Board Members of the subject organizations. Enough!

  9. It is disturbing to consider squeezing a building into the corner of Front and Warren Street where now there is a small neighborhood park and bench to rest, reflect and engage in the neighborhood. The lovely Federal building next to the lot, for as long as I can remember, has been a well cared for building with moderately priced, handsome apartments. To shove a building in there will darken the building beside it and remove the space for community engagement; human relationship is key to a positive, healthy environment.