The Hudson Housing Authority is planning to demolish Bliss Towers and Columbia Apartments, constructed in the early 1970s during Urban Renewal, and build new housing, doubling their inventory of subsidized apartments. Needless to say, the plans are of great interest to the citizens of Hudson, but those plans are being kept very close to the vest.
At the September meeting of HHA Board of Commissioners, John Madeo of Mountco, HHA's development partner, and the architects from Alexander Gorlin Architects said they would return in October with the completed preliminary plan. At the September meeting, they had boards showing what they called a "springboard proposal," which they displayed for the people in the room but only fleetingly turned once to the Owl for the benefit of people attending the meeting on Zoom. Needless to say, it was too fleetingly to take in what the board showed.
So, last night Gossips made the effort to go to Bliss Towers for the meeting, curious to see what was being proposed, but I was disappointed. There were no boards showing what was being proposed, only ledger-sized sheets which were distributed to the Board of Commissioners but which the architect making the presentation clearly did not want me to see. In fact, when she did hold up one of the sheets, and I tried to take a picture, she put it down to prevent me from doing so. The picture below is a screen capture from the Zoom video just before she realized I was trying to take a picture.
The new proposal was developed in response to Commissioner Claire Cousin's concern, expressed at the last meeting, that seven-story buildings were too tall. In the revised proposal, none of the buildings exceeds five stories. The board, however, expressed the desire to go for maximum build, because, as Commissioner Nick Zachos said, "The need is great." Revonda Smith, who chairs the Board of Commissioners, mentioned, as she has before, 280 North Pearl Street in Albany, which is an eight-story building. Cousin, who was attending the meeting on Zoom, said she had seen the building Smith was talking about and had changed her mind. Presumably she now supports buildings of greater height.
|280 North Pearl Street Photo: Dave Lucas | WAMC|
Mary Decker, who is a resident commissioner on the board, expressed concern about elevators and plumbing in a taller building. Her particular worry was for people living on the upper floors when the elevators weren't working, which apparently happens frequently in Bliss Towers. Jeffrey Dodson, HHA executive director, noted that the elevators in Bliss Towers were the original elevators, installed when the building was built in 1973, and he assured Decker that the new buildings would have new elevators. Smith commented, "I feel like during Urban Renewal they didn't even care, they didn't think about the structure of the building, they didn't care about the elevator. . . . They just popped this over top of this dump." Zachos expressed the opinion that the issues with the current building "are the result of serious neglect."
A couple of things were learned from last night's meeting. First, I managed to get enough of a look at the drawings to confirm that the plan is to build not only on what is currently HHA property but also on all three sites HHA has an option to buy from HCDPA (Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency). Also, the first building to be constructed, the one on the north side of State Street, where the gazebo and the basketball courts now are, will have 101 units, enough to accommodate all the current tenants of Bliss Towers and Columbia Apartments.