Study: Hudson building has definite potentialThere’s a lot of “could-be” when it comes to the former H.D. Hudson Manufacturing building along West Second Street. The Hastings City Council heard the results of a MnDOT sponsored reuse study Monday evening, but offered no clear preference for any of the three potential reuses suggested.
By: Katrina Styx, The Hastings Star-Gazette
There’s a lot of “could-be” when it comes to the former H.D. Hudson Manufacturing building along West Second Street. The Hastings City Council heard the results of a MnDOT sponsored reuse study Monday evening, but offered no clear preference for any of the three potential reuses suggested.
The presentation was not designed to give the city options from which to choose a course of action, however. The study was designed to evaluate the building’s potential for reuse.
“Our study gives suggestions about the possibilities for the site,” said Will Stark of Stark Preservation Planning, who led the presentation with Bob Claybaugh of Claybaugh Preservation Architecture and Jon Commers of Donjek.
The first question was whether or not the building could, in fact, be converted for a different use, and the answer came back a resounding yes. Despite some repairs and the need for a new insulated roof in the oldest portion, the structures are sound, Stark said. And its open floor plan makes it a veritable blank slate.
“It’s the ultimate adaptable building,” Claybaugh said.
Another question was, if the structure is to stay, how much of it would be kept. Based on public comment, the study returned a recommendation to remove the newest, 1974 wing on the northwest portion of the site. There was some discussion about a 1946 wing. In conducting stakeholder interviews, Stark, Claybaugh and Commers found some support for removing it. However, Stark advised keeping it. That part of the building predates zoning codes that now keep buildings at least 100 feet from the river. There are opportunities for expansive river views if it’s kept, Stark said, and its roof could even be used for a rooftop garden or another outdoor feature.
To help demonstrate the building’s potential, Stark and Claybaugh presented three redevelopment scenarios. Each scenario suggested the structures house a variety of uses and each included a restaurant and banquet hall, public tourism and retail components.
The first scenario placed a 50-room inn across the entire second floor, with the main floor divided into a banquet hall, restaurant, retail and a public tourism feature.
A second possibility was anchoring the site with a 25-room inn on part of the second floor, with the rest given to condos. The main floor again housed a banquet hall, interpretive center and a restaurant. This idea included using the lower level of the 1946 building for tenant parking.
The third scenario placed a restaurant and banquet hall in the 1946 building by the river, with condos or office space in the street-facing structures.
Stark also noted that ideas could include multi-level features. Redevelopment could include opening up a floor into the basement and adding an open staircase for an art gallery, for example.
Although they were presented as separate scenarios, there’s nothing to prevent picking elements from each.
“You can mix and match things with these different scenarios,” Stark said.
With any use, parking is an issue. The preferred arrangement for parking, according to the project team, was building a three-story parking structure on the southwest corner of the lot. Because of the grade of the land, one could be built without ramps inside, with three separate entrances giving access to each level. Using this structure and some surface parking, the site could park 180 vehicles, Claybaugh said.
It’s no surprise the Hudson building would need repairs if it’s repurposed. The exterior, made of concrete brick, has seen some degradation due to excessive moisture and would need to be addressed, but it is purely cosmetic, Claybaugh said. Gutters and downspouts would have to be replaced to prevent further damage.
The windows are another expected cost.
“The building is blessed with a lot of windows and it’s cursed with a lot of windows,” Claybaugh said.
The roof is sound, but Claybaugh recommended replacing it because it has no insulation. There are some environmental issues as well, but “nothing particularly unusual for a building of this age,” he said.
“All of it, in our opinion, is manageable for a project like this,” he added.
Although Stark noted the structures are sound, the draft report notes added truss reinforcing in the oldest building, as well as structurally stressed load-bearing walls, spliced and notched beams, notched joists and missing braces and columns there.
If the city decides to rehabilitate the building, it will need outside funding sources such as grants or tax credit equity. The total rehabilitation cost is estimated at about $18.5 to $20.5 million, or $200 per square foot, while projected rent is in the range of $15 per square foot. There are tools to overcome the discrepancy, Commers said.
In considering how the Hudson building could be reused, Commers emphasized a need to add space to the downtown market gradually.
“One of the key questions is, over time, how could you release that space in the marketplace in the least disruptive way,” he said.
Without the 1974 structure, the building can offer about 100,000 square feet of space, compared to a total of 200,000 square feet in the rest of the downtown district. Making the entire Hudson space available at once could cause significant challenges to other nearby businesses, he said.
The report did not offer a suggestion regarding best use or even whether or not the building should be reused. It did, however, make suggestions regarding how the city should proceed. Whichever direction the property heads, Stark noted the city will need to have patience.
“It could be many years before it’s completed,” he said.
He suggested the city establish a local task force or subcommittee of the Hastings Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority to develop a vision for the site that expresses the city’s goals. Another recommendation was to limit demolition until a plan is in place to keep their options open. Leaving the buildings in place for now doesn’t limit demolition at a later date, but taking them down limits development options, Stark said.
Finally, Stark suggested the city designate the building for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Although it’s eligible for the list, it has not yet been designated. Doing so will offer more funding opportunities, he said.