HUDSON — A 50-room hotel could be coming to 7th and Union streets in the old McKinstry Mansion. Plans were presented to the Columbia County Industrial Development Agency and city Planning Board on Tuesday.
The building was originally constructed in the 1830s, with an 1870s addition, and is located in a historic district. Representatives of 620 Hudson House LLC will present their plans to the Hudson Historic Preservation Committee at its Feb. 28 meeting to obtain a certificate of appropriateness.
Once the Home for the Aged for nearly a century, 620 Union has been vacant since. It is across 7th Street from Governor’s Tavern and Iron Horse Cigar Depot, and located diagonally across the train tracks from the Hudson Police Station. To the west, the property adjoins a church, and backs up to Cherry Alley.
The group approached the IDA on Tuesday afternoon in hopes of securing a straight lease transaction.
While the group is not looking for bond financing, it means the IDA would take an interest in the property and lease it back to 620 Hudson House LLC. The company would have all of the obligations of ownership.
Since the IDA is a tax-exempt organization, it would exempt construction materials from the 8.5 percent sales tax.
“What we’re looking for is exemption from New York State sales and use tax, and we have estimated that amount to be $250,000,” 620 Hudson House LLC counsel Joe Scott said.
The group would make payments in lieu of taxes, payments made to compensate a government for property tax revenue lost due to tax-exempt ownership of real property.
The property is also located in a Federal Opportunity Zone, which was created in 2017 to provide tax incentives designed to spur economic development in economically distressed communities. They are designated by the state and certified by the IRS.
F. Michael Tucker, president and CEO of the Columbia Economic Development Corporation said that in recent years, the IDA has not received any projects. This project would help the IDA get “back on track” after the Wick Hotel project in 2016.
“We wouldn’t be pursuing it but for the IDA’s assistance,” David Kessler, the project’s developer, said. “We are extremely excited about it and I think the market needs more hotel rooms. There’s a huge demand for hotel rooms in this area and we’re trying to solve that and we want to do something that the local community will embrace.”
The existing building is 15,000 square feet, but the final project will be about double that size.
The goal is to restore the facade to its 1830s condition, but the new addition will be a “modern sister” to the historic building. The original parlor and dining room will serve as event space and a cafe.
The current mean existing height of the building is 44.7 feet, and the mean height of the addition would be 38.8 feet.
“We see space being an area where a lot of guests will congregate and socialize, and then if you want to rent out a room or rent a whole area for a special event, you could,” Phinney said. “It’s really going to serve as a lobby, social center of the resort.”
The previous owner started renovating it back into a single-family home, but stopped construction and sold it. Phinney said it “needs a lot of love.”
The one-story addition will be removed, as well as the elevator shaft that “interrupts the facade,” Phinney said.
IDA Chair Tiffany Garriga asked if there would be jobs for local residents, or if the company would hire outsiders.
“Between the employees that will be working for the hotel, the restaurant and the bar combined, 30. Thirty new jobs,” Kesssler said. “New jobs, from this area.”
He said he wants to see the general manager and head chef hired locally, and while he will not be doing the hiring himself, he will be choosing the management company that does.
First Ward Alderwoman Rebecca Wolff said she is concerned about a lack of available local skilled workers to fill the new jobs and asked about their willingness to train people.
“What we want to see is some really serious commitment to employing people who live in this community, no matter what, or like whatever it takes,” Wolfe said.
Kessler said they want the final product to be accessible and welcoming to tourists and locals alike. A special IDA meeting is scheduled for Feb. 28 at 10 a.m.
Also Tuesday, 620 Hudson House LLC presented its project to the planning board at the Central Station Firehouse at 77 N. 7th St.
“The reason for the site plan approval is as per city code section 325-35A-1 C, an expansion of an existing commercial building by 25 percent or more requires site plan approval by the planning board,” according to a letter from Code Enforcement Officer Craig Haigh attached to the site plan application.
The site plan notes additional uses such as a restaurant, bar, fitness center and cafe. At the planning board meeting, landscape architect Dale Schafer laid out the plans for a historic garden, outdoor dining area and landscape lighting. He also noted they plan to save two large trees and a pear tree on the half-acre lot.
The planning board was concerned with the parking situation, as well as how it will affect traffic in the city.
“That is a busy corner,” board member Theresa Joyner said of Union and 7th. She asked if a traffic study could be done, and was also concerned about guests arriving at the same time and causing congestion. The board requested more than a trip generation number, such as research on traffic congestion and potential conflicts with loading and unloading.
There is no off-street parking in the site plan. Andy Didio from Taconic Engineering in Chatham said, “I think the train is going to be a major factor concerning the patronage, but another thing, I think it’s that loading, unloading zone, the parking spaces there.”
There is no requirement for off-street parking in the commercial zone. There is a municipal lot across the street two lots down, and there is metered street parking on both 7th Street and Union Street, aside from two reserved loading zone spots in front of the building.
The site plans shared at the planning board meeting raised concern from Larry Bowne, who asked if there was an encroachment into the setback on the side yard.
Didio said the building is in the commercial district, which does not have setback requirements, but since it is within 25 feet of a residential district, there has to be 10 feet on both sides. The building plans are about 23 feet from a residential district. The original building hangs over the property line, but the new addition will not. They are going before the city Zoning Board at a Feb. 19 meeting.
“This is a permitted use of this building,” Didio reminded the board citing noise levels and potential traffic.
The planning board passed a resolution to be lead agency for the state environmental review and will set a public hearing at its next meeting in March.