Hastings’ hopes of seeing the historic H.D. Hudson Manufacturing building transformed into a downtown riverfront destination could move closer to reality next month with the building’s sale to a developer who has proposed housing and other amenities at the site.

City Council members expressed unanimous support June 11 for the proposed terms of the sale of the 100,000-square-foot Hudson office-warehouse building to Confluence Development. The structure, a portion of which dates to 1914, occupies 3.8 acres next to the new Hwy. 61 bridge over the Mississippi River just west of Hastings’ historic downtown district.

Council members favored a plan that calls for selling the property to Confluence for a dollar while in turn retaining all future revenue from a tax-increment financing (TIF) district that would include the Hudson site and the former First National Bank site to the south, which the developer has purchased. The TIF district would be in place for 26 years.

Confluence plans to transform the Hudson building into what it’s calling Great River Landing, a mixed-use development with 62 apartments, space for retail, restaurants and events, and a river outfitter location.

The Confluence partnership includes local businessman Pat Regan, who developed the Schoolhouse Square shopping center in Hastings, and City Properties Group of Louisville, Ky. The company has won credit for revitalizing downtown Louisville with apartment and restaurant developments in old warehouses in that city.

The City Council discussed the proposed sale at a workshop with the Hastings Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority, which purchased the Hudson property in 2010 for $3 million. While council members took no formal action at the meeting, the sale is expected to come before them for a vote in July.

A financial analysis of the proposed sale and Hudson redevelopment found that expected monthly rental costs of the apartments, at $1,015 a month, appeared to be below the market rate.

“Our priority is to be competitive in the market,” Regan said. “That’s our first priority. We need this project to succeed early on. We will be competitive in the market.”

Rates on the commercial space in the project, which Regan said is drawing a lot of interest, also will be competitive.

“This is a unique property,” Regan said. “There won’t be another one built like it because you can’t get that close to the river. We’re trying to be very careful and respective of that fact, that we really need to do it right.”

‘Riverfront Renaissance’

Regan said the apartments could eventually be converted to condominiums, but not for at least five years because the project is getting historic tax credit financing.

“In the long run, these homes will be able to be turned into condos,” Regan said. “We may be able to raise the rent; we may not. I think they’re very valuable long term. If it pays, we’re not looking to sell. We’re looking to be here 26 years from now and have the thing paid off.”

The Hudson building is the last industrial site on the riverfront in downtown Hastings, and officials see its long-sought redevelopment as an opportunity to enhance the city’s river presence and extend downtown west of the new Hwy. 61 bridge.

Downtown Hastings and the adjacent Levee Park are in the midst of what the city terms its “Riverfront Renaissance” project, a revitalization effort taking shape now that the new bridge is in place. Improvements to the park include construction of a pavilion and amphitheater, a veterans’ memorial, a playground, a seasonal skating area with an adjoining fire pit and permanent restrooms.

“Our city is so 19th century when it comes to the river,” Mayor Paul Hicks said. “In the 19th century, it was a highway. They didn’t really look at the river like we look at it and value it today. What we’re trying to do is connect our Hastings citizenry and our guests and visitors and tourists to the river again.”

 

Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Woodbury. His e-mail is todd_nelson@mac.com