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HEDRA anticipates fourth Hudson concept

A fourth development concept for the former Hudson Manufacturing building in downtown Hastings is expected to be presented in October.

With three concepts already on the table, submitted by the Beard Group, Sherman and Associates and Artspace, the Hastings Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority was notified that Pat Regan of Premier Bank and the Hastings Bus Company, who developed Schoolhouse Square, and Bill Weyland of City Properties Group of Louisville, Ky., who rehabilitates historic sites there, plan to present what looks to be the final redevelopment concept HEDRA will consider.

Earlier this year, HEDRA members set a September deadline for concept proposals. Once the final concept is presented, commissioners will get to work deciding which route to pursue.

One of the big questions right now is how long HEDRA is willing to wait on the project. Artspace’s proposal includes a three- to five-year wait period while the organization studies the area to first determine if Hastings can support its plan and then to secure funding. Meanwhile, it is costing HEDRA about $350,000 a year to maintain and secure the building while it’s vacant. Commissioners questioned if they’re willing to wait that long without a guarantee of development, and if they’re willing to spend about $1.5 million on the building in the meantime.

While they aren’t ruling out the Artspace concept, waiting for just one developer has too much risk for some commissioners.

“I’m not willing to put everything on abeyance until they’re ready to move,” said commissioner Kurt Keena.

He added that he wants to keep hearing ideas.

Another concern was making sure that the developer that gets the project has the resources and means to make their concept a viable reality. While HEDRA expects that the final project won’t look exactly like any of the concept plans, it does want to set the site up for the best chance of success it can.

Over the next few months, city staff will work on assessing potential developers and will bring information back to HEDRA, said Community Development Director John Hinzman. Commissioners also plan to take Artspace up on an offer to tour some of its established facilities in the Twin Cities.

In other Hudson news, work is nearly finished on the demolition project. The site where the building used to be has been cleared, graded and seeded. Additional environmental cleanup work is also expected to be done this year and next year.