A nonprofit developer attempting to build an affordable apartment building in Hudson has made several changes to its proposal since it was dramatically voted down by the city’s Common Council July 21.
The proposed development is meant to ameliorate the affordable housing crisis in the city, which has rapidly displaced long-term residents as Hudson gentrifies.
The developer, the Galvan Foundation, was seeking a Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) for the 77-unit mixed-income building. PILOTs allow developers to forgo normal property taxes, instead making annual payments far below what they would normally pay.
Since the July vote, the proposed annual PILOT payment has been increased from $80,000 to $100,000. It had been increased from $77,000 to $80,000 prior to the vote. The annual payment would increase to $177,000 by year 30, according to Galvan.
The length of the PILOT has also been decreased, from 40 years to 30 years. After this point, Galvan has committed to either negotiate a new PILOT agreement with payments equal to or greater than the original, or pay property taxes normally, according to Galvan Vice-President for Initiatives Dan Kent, the face of Galvan for the project.
Several Common Council members expressed concerns Galvan would register the development as a non-profit at the end of the PILOT agreement, which would allow Galvan to pay no property taxes on the large building.
Additionally, Galvan committed to giving preference to minority-owned business when filling the development’s ground floor, which will consist of 4,000 square feet of commercial space.
The changes in the PILOT drew praise from one Common Council member during Monday’s Informal Common Council Meeting, Alderwoman Rebecca Wolff, who also trashed former administrations for not preserving existing affordable housing, which might have negated the need for the proposed development.
Though Wolff voted in favor of the original PILOT June 21, she said at Monday meeting she now “looked forward” to the agreement.
Alderwoman Jane Trombley, who voted against the PILOT June 21, still had reservations. She said the PILOT was an improvement over the original, but that the city could be “more creative” in their approach to solving the housing crisis, suggesting the city not only look into creating affordable housing to rent, but affordable housing to purchase.
Alderman Tiffany Garriga, a long-term advocate for affordable housing, responded by saying there was no time to think of creative solutions: the development was on the table now, and the crisis was getting worse every day.
Rents in Hudson have nearly tripled in the last 20 years, according to an analysis by The Other Hudson Valley.
Galvan committed to a system of pricing rents in the development before the July 21 vote, which Kent said would save Hudson residents “hundreds and hundreds of dollars a month.” The 77 apartments are spilt into three tiers, and potential tenants have to be making below a certain percentage of the county’s Area Median Income (AMI) to live there.
There are 27 units available to people making up to half of the AMI, according to Galvan. Half the units in this tier will be for those making up to 40 percent of the AMI, while the other half will be for those making up to 50 percent of the AMI, Kent said.
Tier 2 is available to anyone making up to 80 percent of the AMI, and Tier 3 is available to anyone making between 80 percent and 130 percent of the AMI.
Rents themselves are limited to 30 percent of income, according to Galvan. Kent said at Monday’s meeting this equates to someone in the lowest income bracket paying $500 a month for a one-bedroom apartment – a steal in a city where one-bedrooms below $1,000 are increasingly hard to find.
The development would accept Section 8 vouchers, Kent said at the meeting.
The original PILOT agreement failed to get the six votes it needed to pass at last month’s Common Council meeting, leading to an angry denouncement of those voting against it. Some variation of “fuck” was uttered by at least four people on the Zoom meeting, including former Mayor Rick Rector, who directed the cuss at current Mayor Kamal Johnson. Rector thoroughly apologized when called out by Johnson and other attendees, saying he did not realize his computer’s microphone was unmuted.
Everyone on the council at least ostensibly supported affordable housing in the city, but the four council members who voted no – Dominick Merante, John Rosenthal, Jane Trombley and Malachi Walker – expressed reservations about the particular project.
Merante had said he still had questions about the project and wanted a commitment from Galvan the property would not be taken off the tax rolls at the end of the PILOT when voting no – something that Galvan has since committed to.
The elephant in the room was the developer itself – Galvan. The nonprofit has consistently been accused of causing the affordable housing crisis it is now trying to alleviate. Galvan owns about 80 properties in the city of 6,000, directly or through subsidiaries, and has been accused of buying up properties and keeping them empty, constricting the housing stock and driving up prices.
The nonprofit was accused of this again at Monday’s meeting, by Alderman Merante, who asked why Galvan did not simply rent out the empty buildings it already owned.
Kent defended Galvan by stating the developer had rehabbed 9 buildings in the last two years and would continue to do so.
The affordable housing development and rehabbing existing Galvan properties were not mutually exclusive, he added.
The new PILOT agreement was being reviewed by Common Council President Tom DePietro, and was not yet publicly available, according to Kent.
The proposed development began to be hashed out by Galvan and Mayor Kamal Johnson shortly after he took office at the beginning of the year.
The Common Council will next discuss the PILOT at the August 18 Common Council meeting, but a vote will not happen until September.