Officials plan city hall feasibility study

The Historic Hudson Area Library on State Street. File photo

HUDSON — City officials are taking the first steps to determine the feasibility of transforming the old Hudson Area library into the new city hall.

The city published a draft request for proposals for public comment, and interested vendors will be able to submit proposals of the costs of a feasibility study, not designs or plans.

Officials are looking to consolidate its offices into one building, as the current city hall does not have the space to accommodate all its departments and is also not compliant with the Americans with Disabalities Act.

The former Historic Hudson Area Library, at 400 State St., is owned by the Galvan Foundation and would be donated to the city, according to the draft proposal.

Galvan initially offered a land swap for the building, asking for the city’s Washington Street lot. But when the city turned down the land-swap option, Galvan’s offer to gift a new city hall and donate $100,000 to a study continued to stand.

The foundation also offered a $1 million development grant for the project and estimated in February that renovations for full ADA compliance would cost $2,758,070 and take a year to complete.

“People will know who respond to this that there is that other study out there but what I’m trying to get is unique, individual, independent views of, ‘Take a look at this building, tell us if it’s feasible to become city hall, with the idea of moving all the offices that are in this building, plus code enforcement there,” Peter Bujanow, commissioner of public works, said at a Hudson Common Council meeting Sept. 13.

Galvan offered to donate its 400 State St. building, the former Hudson Area Library, to the city if the council makes it the new city hall. The Warren Street building does not comply with the ADA and the city reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice in October 2019 to ensure the building is compliant.

The building was constructed in 1818 as the almshouse — or charitable housing — but it was also used as the Hudson Lunatic Asylum, Hudson Orphan and Relief Association and Hudson Area Association Library, according to the draft proposal.

Consisting of a three-story central area and two-story wings on either side, the building also had a rear addition attached between 1884 and 1889, according to the draft proposal. It served as the library from 1959 to 2016, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008 and was sold to Eric Galloway of the Galvan Foundation in 2011.

Interested parties will meet for a one-hour tour of the building at a date and time to be determined. The services the city is looking for include assessing the existing condition of the building as well as any costs for improvements or corrections and if the proposed use of the building is appropriate, according to the draft proposal.

“We want somebody to tell us how this feasibility can be accomplished: What pockets of money, what sources of revenue, what sources of funds are available to accomplish the cost that they’re going to come back with. They’re going to say, ‘Hey, this building is historic. It has all these deficiencies to code today, this is what we need to bring it up in code. This is what we proposed. This is now how we can finance it,” Bujanow said.

Bujanow said it will take 30 days to receive responses to the requests.

“We’ll get proposals in terms of how much it’s going to cost. This is just how much it’s going to cost to do the study,” Bujanow said. “That result four weeks from the date of release will tell us that and give us a calendar, will give us a schedule on how long it will take to get that feasibility done.”

A second option

The city also has the option to renovate the existing city hall. The city commissioned a feasibility study of renovating city hall in August 2019, which was revised in August 2020 and offered four options to renovate city hall to make it compliant, but two of the options were insufficient because they do not provide access to bathrooms, former Mayoral Aide and ADA Coordinator Michael Chameides said in May.

Fourth Ward Alderman John Rosenthal reiterated his past sentiments in May against Galvan’s proposed arrangement, urging the council to focus on the study the city had done for City Hall.

“Since we have our own options and we studied our own options, it’s my recommendation that we go with something that is already on the table rather than waiting a year and a half to find out that we’re going to try to get nowhere renovating an albatross of a building,” he said. “Meaning, 400 State St., would be a massive undertaking and incredibly expensive for the city to do and that $100,000 they’re proposing, I would say the Galvan Foundation would be better served putting that money to a rent relief fund for people who are rent-distressed or using it for Galvan housing resources or any of their other organizations that deal with the immediate housing needs of this community rather than wasting it on a study for us about a building that we won’t be able to afford to move into.”

Common Council President Thomas DePietro said the bond resolution would not cover compliance for full accessibility.

“It’s a move, and I’m not sure if it’s better,” he said. “It doesn’t make the building fully ADA compliant is one of the down sides of it.”

The Common Council moved forward in exploring both options in May, according to meeting minutes. While the bond resolution for updates to the existing city hall passed unanimously, the resolution exploring the proposed Galvan option passed 6-4 with one abstaining.

“In terms of the Department of Justice, doing both projects would show the Department of Justice that A. we’re dealing with the immediate need for city hall, which by the way doesn’t make all of city hall compliant and then we’re just looking at a potential use of an existing building,” DePietro said.

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