Proposed rehabilitation of the former Empire Knitting Mill, also known as the Pocketbook Factory, on Washington Street in Hudson comes as good news for the city’s economic rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Co-owners and developers Sean Roland and Gabriel Katz, of PBF Hudson, LLC, plan a fusion of public and private spaces, making what they call a “creative campus” called Pocketbook Hudson. It will be a large public courtyard, a hotel with between 35 and 40 rooms, a spa, food and beverage offerings and commercial spaces for retail, the arts and nonprofit uses.
And therein lies the question: Is Hudson focusing too much on lodging for visitors and not enough on affordable housing for its residents?
The St. Charles, The Wick, The Barlow, The Maker, The Howard hotels, as well as the Rivertown Lodge are all in or near the primary business district of Warren Street. At least two new hotel projects have been announced.
Last time we checked, Hudson is in the midst of a housing crisis, not a hotel shortage. Elected officials and housing advocates largely agree that affordable, sustainable housing is in critically short supply and needs to be expanded.
It’s not that the city’s political and community leaders don’t have Hudson’s best interests at heart. They know the need for housing is urgent. But it is easy to be seduced by presentations that play to Hudson’s need for retail and interests in amenities, restaurants and the arts. And, oh, by the way, how about a hotel to go with them?
Hudson, like all other communities in the Twin Counties, is working hard to win back the tourist industry in a post-pandemic world. There is nothing wrong with that. But it should not be at the expense of day-to-day city residents who desperately need an affordable roof over their heads.