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First & Main offers clues to Downtown Phase II project's future

by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published: October 9, 2016 12:00 AM

Hudson -- Residents will have input on the Downtown Phase II project, which officials say will reflect what Phase I accomplished in the First & Main section.

Hudson City Council in September authorized Testa Companies to develop a conceptual plan for the 20.5 acres in the Morse Road area available for development. The project could include a mix of office and residential units.

Testa and MKSK, planner for urban design, met with members of the Downtown Roundtable, city staff and Council members Oct. 5 to understand the pros and cons of discussions in Phase I of the First & Main development.

"We want to make the second phase feel like the first phase so it feels like it was built at the same time," said Joel Testa of Testa Companies to those in attendance. "What did you like the first time? We want your direction."

Chris Hermann of MKSK said the master plan will be flexible and will begin with an advisory committee to understand the big ideas for the project; stakeholders will be interviewed to understand specific details, issues and opportunities; and public meetings will allow public input for the design.

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"We may not know who will want to live in this area, but stakeholders do," said Mayor David Basil.

Former mayor William Currin said there is already a positive attitude toward the project.

"We're not eliminating anything," Currin said. "We're building something."

Council member Alex Kelemen did not want to go back to the beginning for plans, and Testa agreed.

"We want to pick up where you are now and move forward," Testa said.

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Economic Development Director James Stifler said Hudson has a 217-year-old history and the design needs to respect what exists in Hudson and pull Hudson forward at the some time.

"First & Main helps us," Hermann said. "Here's our framework, and we need to match it."

Western Reserve architecture is timeless, Testa added.

"We want to create a classic form that is timeless, have modern conveniences but also look likes its always been here," Testa said.

Technology is a big difference between phase I and phase II, Testa said. The office space in phase II will be for those who embrace technology.

Hermann said a website would be an important part of the project with discussions online.

Communication will be key to residents, said Liz Murphy of Destination Hudson.

Currin said MKSK and Testa will have to remind people of what they've done so far in the downtown area and recognize naysayers' issues.

"There was a strong group of scared people [in phase 1] because we were penetrating the Holy Grail, but afterwards they saw the vision we had and embraced it," Currin said. "Their fears were relieved."

The public may not remember that the second phase was always part of the First & Main project, said Julie Lindner of the Roundtable.

"This is economic development," Lindner said. "That is why the city is involved. It doesn't make sense to have a valuable piece of land not earning taxes."

The bus garage and city owned property where the salt dome is located were tax exempt. The new land owners would pay property taxes and their employees would pay income tax to the city.

Realtor Ted Olson said Hudson doesn't have a housing product that people want, such as homes or apartments within walking distance of a vibrant downtown.

"Some people only know their neighborhood," Olson said. "They're not integrated in the downtown."

Testa will finalize the developer agreement with the city in the next few weeks and suggested the city include a timeline on how the project should move forward. The community can interact online or meetings will be scheduled in the future.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP


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