By Laura Hayes, Contributing Writer
HUDSON — With the Hudson Cultural Alliance securing the funds to purchase the armory, the nonprofit is looking to the future and moving onto the next phase of the project.
“We’re newly reenergized and certainly more optimistic that we can keep forging ahead and have better conversations with a broader range of donors,” President Andy Horvitz recently told the Community Advocate.
He continued, “This is real. This is happening.”
The Hudson Cultural Alliance wants to turn the former National Guard building into a community arts center. Phase one of the project was to secure funds to be able to purchase the armory.
The alliance now has its path forward clear, thanks to an amendment in the state Senate’s budget from Sen. Jamie Eldridge’s (D-Acton).
“Deeply grateful for the Hudson residents, town officials, and Hudson Business Association who have advocated for this exciting project!” Eldridge wrote on Facebook following the announcement.
Horvitz said both Eldridge and Rep. Kate Hogan (D-Stow) have supported the project. The alliance has had conversations about it with Eldridge’s team, and several months ago, Eldridge told the alliance that he would be pushing to include funds to purchase the armory in the senate budget.
His amendment allocates $230,000, which Horvitz anticipates will be released later in the year.
“I was thrilled, thrilled to get that call,” Horvitz said.
A castle-like structure built in the early 1900s, the armory is owned by the state. Horvitz said the purchase will be a real estate transfer between the state and the town. He expects that transaction will take place in the fall.
The Town of Hudson will technically own the armory, but the Alliance will lease it, Horvitz said.
The Alliance’s vision for the space is to turn it into an arts center that could house classes, concerts, theater performances, exhibit space, a winter farmer’s market and creative work stations.
Owning the building means that the alliance will be able to hold events outside, Horvitz said.
Receiving the funds from the budget as well as a $200,000 matching grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund provides momentum as the alliance moves into its next phase, according to Horvitz.
“I feel like we’ve crossed the chasm,” Horvitz said.
Phase two of the project involves raising money to renovate the armory. Horvitz estimates this may cost between $1-2 million. Funds from the $200,000 matching grant will go toward the renovations.
With $1 million in renovations, Horvitz said the alliance will be able to make the building ADA compliant, remove asbestos and open the first floor for use.
Two million dollars would modernize the armory, bring it up to code and make it ready for community activities. Horvitz explained that the first floor could be turned into flex space that could be used for a number of activities. The lower level could be used as studio and rehearsal space, he added.
Learn more about the project and how to donate at hudsonarmoryproject.org.
In the meantime, the Alliance’s members are basking in the recent news.
Horvitz credited the work of six Alliance team members, who he said have done most of the leg work since 2019. Now in 2021, he said the Alliance is an overnight success.
“We’re not done, but we’re a heckuva lot further along,” Horvitz said.