HUDSON — Common Council members, past and present, are worried about the scale of the $55 million Bliss Towers development project and the strain it might place on city services.
The concerns were brought up at the Common Council meeting on Monday by former Common Council President Don Moore during the public comment period. He said his comments were in reaction to the City Planning Board meeting held Dec. 13.
“Last month, at the planning board, most of the time at the planning board was not discussing the specifics of the engineering studies, or whether or not it fit the zoning and site-plan issues, but it had to do with the context of which this plan fit and who it would serve,” Moore said.
The project proposed by the Hudson Housing Authority and its co-developer Property Resources Corporation, of White Plains, will include renovating 117 units at Bliss Towers, 41 N. Second St., and construction of two new buildings — one for seniors and one for families and mixed-use — at the corner of State and North Second streets for a total of nearly 150 units, which exceeds the total at Bliss Towers.
But the Hudson Housing Authority confirmed Wednesday there are actually 76 units proposed for the two new buildings. The project is before the city planning board for a site-plan review.
Moore is concerned about the burden the project might suddenly place on the city services, such as police, fire, social and county health services, when it’s completed.
“If you have a $55 million project, it is probably the single largest project in this city,” Moore said. “All of this is being taken on by Hudson, and not by anyone else, because it is located in Hudson. I haven’t heard anyone discuss that someone in the county would have to step up and take some of the responsibility because it is regional.”
The project received an $800,000 award from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative in May 2018, which will be applied to the costs associated with the preliminary stages of the project, which has already begun.
But the original proposal presented to the state included a 40-60 unit, mixed-housing project for residents, but, with the partnership of Property Resources Corporation, the project has expanded to 150 units, Moore said.
“We should be clear that we are not discussing a program that guarantees housing for residents of Hudson, which was the impetus for housing through the DRI,” Moore said.
Moore ended his remarks by saying the city should question what impact the project actually has and is it what residents want.
“When they started, it was a relatively small project that was principally to renovate Bliss and add a little on,” Moore said. “Now the add-on has taken over the project”
The same concerns were first addressed by Common Council President Thomas DePietro at a Hudson Housing Authority meeting held in the Bliss Towers Community Room on Dec. 12.
“I think you would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t agree with you right now,” DePietro said to Moore. “This [project] does seem to be driven by the developers. It just seems to have inflated out of the blue — to all of us.”
Mayor Rick Rector said the proposed project is almost “a complete contradiction” to the Strategic Housing Action Plan, which was presented to the city in 2018.
DePietro has been discussing the issues with city attorney Andy Howard about how to “make it clear to the planning board they have a much wider purview in what they can discuss.”
The Hudson Housing Authority was expected to meet Wednesday at Bliss Towers, 41 N. Second St. The next planning board meeting is set for Thursday at 6 p.m. in City Hall, 520 Warren St.