Cultural Alliance expects Hudson armory purchase finalized this year

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By Justin Roshak, Contributing Writer

Hudson’s old National Guard Armory sits near downtown. Local arts advocates are expecting their purchase of the building will be finalized this year. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)
Hudson’s old National Guard Armory sits near downtown. Local arts advocates are expecting their purchase of the building will be finalized this year.
(Photo/Dakota Antelman)

HUDSON – The Hudson Cultural Alliance laid out their timeline for converting the old National Guard Armory in town into a performing arts venue at the Select Board’s Aug. 9 meeting. 

Roughly two months after their last appearance before the board regarding this project, Cultural Alliance officials discussed cost-saving measures to take effect during the renovation process. They also fielded questions and concerns from elected officials.

“You can’t run this business with a two-million-dollar mortgage,” Alliance President Andy Horvitz told the Board. “But you can run it without one. And that’s what we’re trying to do,” 

The Alliance won large amounts of money from two sources this year. State earmarks allocated $230,000. A grant from the Mass Cultural Council will further match up to $200,000 in donations. 

Horvitz said the Alliance had raised about $50,000 in hard cash as of his presentation to the board. He expects legislation to authorize the town to take ownership of the armory from the state will be signed in September.

“Realistically, all roads lead toward the end of this year for the state allowing us to take possession,” Horvitz said. 

He said he expects the earmarked state funds will be released for Alliance use in October. 

Regardless, even if the sale goes off without a hitch, the armory won’t reopen for years. 

“Realistically, we’re three to four years out,” Horvitz said. 

In terms of price tag, Horvitz’ most recent estimate offered a price range of one to two million dollars in reconstruction over two years. 

The Alliance plans to mothball the armory during the first stretch of fundraising. Cutting off utilities will significantly reduce operating costs, which Horvitz estimated at only $25,000 over two years. 

“We probably would seek liability insurance,” Horvitz said on the issue of insurance. “But ultimately the property is owned by the Town.”

The topic sparked questions among Select Board members. 

“This was presented to the town as zero cost and I’m already seeing costs accrue,” said member Shawn Sadowski. 

He said the project was a great idea that would draw people to the downtown, but expressed concern about creeping commitments of public resources, such as staff time. 

“We knew there would be costs for paperwork and administration that we have to do,” board chair Scott Duplisea said. “[But] I myself stated I did not want to spend town money to fund it.”

Select Board member Fred Lucy shared his thoughts as well.

“The idea was the town of Hudson real estate taxpayers were not going to own and carry the armory, and that’s what we’re talking about now,” he said. “At each junction, we were told not to worry, we’ll raise the money.”

Horvitz pitched the next year as a time to gather momentum.

Hudson’s old National Guard Armory sits near downtown. Local arts advocates are expecting their purchase of the building will be finalized this year. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)
Hudson’s old National Guard Armory sits near downtown. Local arts advocates are expecting their purchase of the building will be finalized this year.
(Photo/Dakota Antelman)

“We get the building,” he said. “And that story becomes more and more real every day. And the opportunity to approach major donors and have their funds matched to that Mass Cultural Council grant is a far more appealing opportunity.”

Alliance co-founder Tom Desmond further defended the project.

“Every time this board has asked us to do something, we have done it,” he said, citing what he described as the Alliance’s years-long pursuit of grant opportunities and ongoing fundraising. 

“We’ve been beaten up a lot on social media,” Desmond told the Board. “You asked us to take this to Town Meeting, and Town Meeting overwhelmingly approved this.”

“We’d love to save this building and keep it for community use,” Duplisea replied. “If it fails, chances are there’ll probably be a developer that wants it, and do whatever with it.”

“It’s not just going to sit there,” he added.

 

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