Hearing helps pick what rises when Bliss falls

HUDSON—The Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) plans to hold a public hearing Wednesday, July 7, at 6 p.m. at the Bliss Towers Community Room. The subject of the hearing is the proposed “demolition and redevelopment of Bliss Tower and Columbia Apartments.”

The HHA is preparing to issue, a document that will find a partner to help the HHA Board of Commissioners “in developing a vision” for HHA property. The document is called a request for qualifications (RFQ) and the draft can undergo modifications until the HHA Board decides the request is in its final form. The housing authority aims to issue the RFQ July 15.

The HHA runs the income-restricted Bliss Towers high rise and the Columbia Apartments low rises in Hudson. Together they have 135 units: 120 in Bliss and 15 in the low-rises. Across State Street from the buildings on the north, HHA has more land, currently with parking and recreational facilities.

The RFQ is not a proposed contract with a builder. It is a request for a partner to help design instructions to give to a builder later.

The draft Request for Qualifications divides HHA land into three sites: “Second Street,” consisting of Bliss Towers and land immediately around it; “Columbia Street,” consisting of Columbia Apartments and the lawn west of them; and “State Street,” the land across State Street.

‘Plans can include a mix of affordable units.’

From draft Request for Qualifications

Hudson Housing Authority

Below are quotes from the Draft Request for Qualifications with the sections the quotations come from. The Hudson Housing Authority is referred to as “the Authority.”

1. “The construction… at the State Street Site and the Columbia Street Site will happen first,” keeping in mind that “soil conditions on the State Street Site limit the density and height of any development.” (3.2a and b)

2. “Upon completion of [step 1], the HHA residents of the Low-Rise Units will be given the option [of moving] to the State Street Site or Bliss Tower.” (3.2b)

3. “Upon all units in the Low-Rise Units being vacated, the HHA anticipates the demolition of the Low-Rise Units.( 3.2b)

4. That would be followed by “the construction… at the Second Street Site.” (3.2b)

The draft mentions goals of changing “the face and character of traditional public housing in the City of Hudson.” (2.3). To achieve the goals, the HHA “proposes to embark on a community based, public project to rehabilitate or redevelop its existing public housing and expand rental housing and community resource opportunities in the City of Hudson.” (2.3)

For the Second Street and Columbia Street sites, this includes determining “a plan for the reconstruction of the Authority’s existing public housing.” For the State Street site, it includes creating “replacement housing for some of the existing residents of Bliss Tower, as well as new affordable housing opportunities for City residents.”(3.2a)

“Plans can include a mix of affordable units that the [partner] believes to be viable, sustainable and beneficial to current [HHA] residents, the immediate neighborhoods, and the community as a whole. There should be no discernible physical or conceptual differences between housing unit types proposed for varying income levels.” (3.2c).

In addition to residences, the HHA “anticipates [that] the project will include retail and community space.” (1.8)

The partner the HHA selects should “be prepared… to create a project that is responsive to the area, the neighborhood, the resident needs, the market, and the environment.” (1.13)

The draft RFQ suggests that what motivated the HHA to embark on this project include “an aging housing stock…. diminishing federal funding,” and a shortage of housing, especially affordable housing for moderate and low-income” households. (2.3 and 2.4) The shortage is so severe that of the HHA’s 130 vouchers for housing in Hudson outside of HHA property, “approximately 80 [are] unused,” because of the impossibility of finding acceptable apartments at acceptable prices with landlords who accept Section 8 tenants. (1.3)

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