Galvan awaits tax breaks to light up old stage

The Community Theatre in Hudson then and now. Photo contributed
Photo by Jeanette Wolfberg

 HUDSON—While the Hudson Common Council voted October 18 to delay giving the Galvan Foundation a tax break to restore a theater in Hudson a county official on a Galvan housing board expressed great optimism for the project.

The property consists of the former theater building at the corner of Columbia and 7th Street and a wood frame formerly-residential building next to it on Columbia Street. The frame building is at the end of a row of residential houses between 6th Street and the theater. The Galvan Foundation is a property owner and developer in the Hudson area. Among its properties are below-market rate housing, the armory, and a motel.

Galvan submitted its application for the tax exemption late, so an assessor turned down the exemption request. Later, legal analysis showed that lateness was insufficient grounds for denial, and Galvan challenged the rejection. Hudson Common Council President Tom DePietro warned that the Common Council has very little authority to block the exemption.

Nevertheless, the Common Council voted on October 18 to delay voting on the tax break until its November 15 meeting.

“They failed to file the application on time. Why should we speed it up?” said Councilmember Dominic Merante (5th Ward).

“The attorneys should explain to us why it’s nonprofit,” said Councilmember Margaret Morris (1st Ward).

“Galvan has a tendency to sit on non-profits,” said Councilmember Mohammed Rony (2nd Ward). “Buy it, take it off the tax rolls, and do nothing for five to ten years.”

‘I can remember standing in line a block away for Saturday movies.’

Supervisor Richard Scalera

Fifth Ward, Hudson

The building’s first use was as a Community Theatre, built by Walter Reade Circuit, and opened in 1937. The theater lasted over 30 years. Later the building was converted to hold indoor tennis courts and then a warehouse for antiques. Performance artist Marina Abramovic bought it in 2007 to make a venue for her performance art, but 10 years later that project had still not come to fruition, and she gave it up. Last year Galvan bought it.

Galvan plans to restore the theater for stage performances and events. The frame building adjacent to the old theater would lodge traveling performers and contain facilities like dressing rooms, said Richard Scalera, Hudson’s Fifth Ward Supervisor and a member of the Board of Galvan Housing Resources. Currently, a temporary chain link fence blocks public access to the front of the theater building.

In the building’s Community Theater days, “I can remember standing in line a block away for Saturday movies,” Mr. Scalera said on October 28. “It was fun. It was a great time.”

Saturday mornings were for children. Often before the main movie, the theater would show a short film of contests, whose participants wore numbers. Children got special tickets with numbers, and the child whose number matched the number of the winning contestant got a prize.

On Halloween the theater would show scary movies and people would walk up and down the aisle wearing costumes. In addition to films, the theater would run events such as hula-hoop contests on stage.

The sidewalk in front of the theater had glitter mixed in its cement. When lights were on, the sidewalk shined.

Mr. Scalera was mayor of Hudson several times between 1995 and 2011. He has been supervisor of Hudson’s Fifth Ward since 2012.

“The building is an absolute eyesore for our community and for visitors to it,” said Councilmember Vicky Daskaloudi (5th Ward). “I hope the developer makes good on the promise.”

But as Councilmember Ryan Wallace (3rd Ward) pointed out, “Galvan received a $900,000 grant from the state… most state grants have time limits. We don’t want a $900,000 investment to pass us by.”

Since Galvan bought the building, signs of work on it have appeared in spurts. Hudson residents have pointed out that in the past year the building underwent asbestos abatement. And that, Mr. Scalera said later, shows commitment.

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