HUDSON—The city’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA) agreed last month to give tax breaks for converting the block-wide Pocketbook Factory building into a diverse commercial site. The breaks exempt PBF Hudson LLC, which has owned the property since early 2021, from sales taxes on construction supplies. Some exemptions are designated PILOTs (Payments in Lieu of Taxes) for 10 years.
The Pocketbook Factory, as the empty brick building is known, sits among residential streets in Hudson, filling the block on Sixth Street between Prospect and Washington streets, near the Central Fire House and Oakdale Lake. It includes 69,800 square feet of brick buildings and a half-acre courtyard. Union Mills had the property before it became the Pocketbook Factory, which ceased operation in the 1970s.
Gabriel Katz of Macarthur Holdings and Sean Roland, an entrepreneur, bought the property and established PBF Hudson in early 2021. They envisioned converting the building into a 40-room hotel, restaurant, wellness center, offices, retail stores, artists studios, event rooms, and space for “farming.” The courtyard would be “open to the public.” Current plans call for no demolition of neighboring buildings,where people live. The owners say they would seek to hire locally. The estimated cost is $25.6 million.
The IDA held a public hearing in late November on PBF’s application for the tax breaks. Mr. Roland spoke first, pointing out the project’s positive points: restoring a historical building, putting it back on the tax rolls, building something “economically sustainable” and using “equitable policies.”
Some of the other speakers showered the development plans with praise. Supporting the project were lawyer Kristal Heinz and business owner Lucas Krump. They said it would bring money and jobs to Hudson. Ms. Heinz added that she passes the site at least twice a day.
Others were more cautious, “One of the problems with PILOTS is making sure they do what they say they’re going to do,” said Quentin Cross of the Hudson Catskill Housing Coalition (HCHC).
Claire Cousin, executive director of the HCHC board, vice chair of the Hudson Housing Authority board and, at the time of the hearing, supervisor-elect of Hudson’s First Ward, said she had hoped that by this stage there would have been more dialogue between the project drivers and the local community “so we can find common ground.” She presented a statement with a list of “commitments” she wants the project drivers to make in order “to ensure reciprocity for city residents in exchange for a favorable response to the PBF’s PILOT application.” A group of Hudson residents drafted the commitments “in anticipation of welcoming the PBF project to Hudson,” the statement adds.
One desired commitment on the list is that at least 50% of hiring should be from within the City of Hudson. Mr. Cross said that other local projects with PILOT agreements said they would hire locally and the money would be given to the people, “But my people are in the same position as before.”
Margaret Morris of Hudson’s First Ward added that she would like to hear more about workforce training. Vicky Daskaloudi of Hudson’s Fifth Ward said the PBF should show preference to people who live locally and can walk to it.
Another desired commitment is that at least 10% of the income from the proposed restaurant and hotel be put into the Housing Trust, which the City of Hudson has established to support the housing needs of low income residents.
Some speakers questioned whether the tax breaks and subsidies for PBF would lead the city to increase residential property taxes. This could price long-term, elderly and other local residents out of their homes, said Kaya Weidman, executive director of Kite’s Nest, which runs educational programs for youngsters.
“The community is trying to make this a community project.’
Supv. Claire Cousin (D-Hudson, Ward 1)
But Michael Tucker, president and CEO of the non-profit Columbia Economic Development Corporation, contacted for this story, said the amount of money the government would receive from the hotel occupancy tax and food and beverage tax over 10 years would exceed the amount not collected because of the tax break.
Another need Ms. Cousin brought up is clear communication with neighbors about the impact of construction on the community. This includes noise, toxic releases, and street closings. Ms. Cousin’s statement also recommended renting retail space to local businesses, promoting car free tourism, limiting the number of large events, limiting noise, contributing to Oakdale Lake programs, and accepting a Community Advisory Board of local residents.
Ms. Cousin observed that it is too late for anyone to stop the PBF project, adding, “the community is trying to make this a community project.”
Across 6th Street from the PBF building stands a row of houses. On the other side of the block from these houses are houses that the non-profit Galvan Foundation plans to demolish to make way for apartments it has proposed.