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Letter: The Hudson building — an expansion with respect for downtown

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To the editor,

As some may know, the Mall of America is working on an expansion. As recent as last year, a center in Woodbury just doubled its shopping center. In expansions like this, developers purchased land and utility easements when they originally built. The new part was designed to the same scale as the original and with the same aesthetics. How smart!

They knew they would have to spend money to do this and would first have to prove to backers that it would work and they would be successful. Retailers and businesses in the original centers were excited. More retailers bring more shoppers, more restaurants bring more hungry people and in general more people visiting an area brings more money to the area or town. Once that money comes (according to a Minnesota department of tourism statistic) it turns at least eight times and more than often ends up in a local bank. The visitor’s money buys a burger at a great little restaurant. That restaurant pays the waitress. The waitress fills up her car at the local service station. That service station pays for some food supplies from the local dairy. That local dairy pays its delivery person. That delivery person pays for his family’s membership in the YMCA. That YMCA makes their daily deposit in a local bank. That local bank loans the money to a resident buying a car at a local car dealer. Yes it has been proven that tourism is a very lucrative, environmentally sound low-impact industry that benefits more than just the restaurant that served the burger.

Well now imagine a town that can expand its business shopping area (Hastings) with an existing building (Hudson) that just happens to fit the dimensions and historic integrity of its existing landscape. And imagine a Twin Cities company (with national success no less) who would put together a feasibility study for this building (ArtSpace). They do their homework and establish adaptive creative mixed reuse that will last a very long time. They stay with their projects into perpetuity in fact. Then imagine this area (Hastings and Prescott) with a strong art influence and organization (HPAAC) which realizes the potential of this project and have also done their homework to help make this happen. And finally imagine a national organization (The National Parks Service) which is considering an outpost there as part of the mixed use because of the incredible location of national significance (The Great Rivers confluence).

Doesn’t it seem that a lot of beautiful pieces are falling into place? Hastings has an opportunity to expand downtown Hastings by a full city block on the river with a combination of exactly what it now has — food, business, retail space, housing and park land on the water. Yes, it as if this was planned when the town was built back in the late 1800s.

Someday we will expand and sell more goods and food and serve more travelers and offer more unique housing on the river. Yes, the Hudson building is pretty perfect valuable space for this expansion of downtown Hastings. Looks like the right idea at the right time with community support. Much applause to HPAAC and Downtown Hastings business community and the HEDRA commissioners who have agreed to take a field trip to one of more of the Artspace successes (Lowertown St. Paul for example).

Let’s hope HEDRA does not now say they have a deadline that will not include this potential.

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