In a breathtaking change of course, Liberty Development announced this past week that it now intends to demolish three-quarters of the 1927 Hudson High School Building and use the remaining front quarter as a façade that will house only five 2-story units, instead of the twenty units previously proposed for the building. The revised strategy proposes a total of 14 units, down from 30 units proposed earlier.

In the revised plans, Liberty has also separated and repositioned the proposed eight carriage house units to the east, behind the remaining building façade, arranging them around a cul-de-sac with only one access drive off Elm Street.

Photo of possible redevelopment plan of Hudson Middle School


Liberty Development’s significant modifications includes demolishing 3/4’s of the historic 1927 Building. The remaining west front façade would shield a new 13-unit townhouse development to the east, with the Saywell House renovation on Oviatt Street.

In an apparent concession to Hudson Heritage Association and concerned neighbors in the Historic District, Liberty announced it would abandon plans to construct two new single-family houses facing Oviatt Street and also said it intends to maintain the historic front lawn and majestic century-old Oak trees in front of the remaining west building façade.

While those concessions are welcome and appropriate, the new plan for the 1927 Building itself is nothing short of a travesty. Although details were vague, Liberty indicated in the Zoom presentation that the back of what would remain of the 1927 Building would be built out, to provide attached garages as well as living space above for five homeowners. The five units would be multiple story, each with two entrances. As a gesture of goodwill, the developer also proposes to re-create the stone grand staircase that once adorned the front entrance to the building – although it appears the stair would lead to nowhere, but to an egress door required for the center townhouse unit.

Photo of old Hudson Middle school


The remaining quarter of the 1927 Building and west façade would be divided into five, two-story, “for sale” townhouse units.

As a civic asset and Hudson treasure, Hudson Heritage Association believes the building deserves a better fate than becoming a movie set or fake façade/front, essentially, screening and hiding the new townhouse development being proposed behind it! In effect, it seems the real objective here is not to save the historic streetscape and building for adaptive reuse, but to introduce new alternative housing that will destroy the integrity of our Historic District. Retaining the historic west building façade will create the illusion of an historic streetscape, while concealing the view of a new townhouse development.

It is impossible to imagine such an inglorious end to such an illustrious building as the one now being proposed. “Amputating” three-quarters of this historic structure just to provide five housing units at an unknown profit to a private developer is mind-boggling. It is a disservice to our community and a disservice to everyone who has worked so hard for decades to preserve and protect Hudson’s historic character and irreplaceable buildings. The 1927 Building offers a much more promising future, if only our community will take the time to consider the options.

Additional Information . . .

HHA Feasibility Study:
HHA has commissioned a feasibility study for the building. The study was launched this month to seek the community’s input on what this building can become and how it can meet Hudson’s needs in a second century of service.

Over the past four years, many suggestions have been put forth for this building. We are conducting this study to assess the viability and adaptive reuse of the building as a community / cultural arts center and the the willingness of various parties in our community to support that use. In the coming weeks, Webb Management Services, the consultant we have retained to conduct this study, will be reaching out to our non-profits, our government leaders, our philanthropic leaders, and others to get their opinions and gauge their interest and willingness to become part of this initiative. A community survey will shortly follow, where the entire community will be invited to provide valuable input and share their interests and ideas for the 1927 Building.

Demolition Plans:
Concurrently to Wednesday night’s 3/10 community webinar presentation, the Hudson City School District and GPD Group, architects for the school district’s Master Facilities Plan and buildings, presented demolition documents to the City of Hudson’s Architectural & Historic Board of Review, where they were reviewed and approved with a few minor conditions. The approval includes the demolition of the old Middle School Building’s east additions (135,000 sf) built between 1950s-70s, the stand-alone Auto Tech/Maintenance Garage (9,850 sf) to the north, and maintains the 1927 Building (51,000 sf), at least for now.

It is not clear whether the HCSD will coordinate and pick-up the tab of Liberty Development’s proposed demolition of 3/4’s of the 1927 Building, during the east additions demolition this summer. The HCSD is currently seeking bids/pricing for the demolition scope of work.

Property Appraisal and Sale:
The HCSD noted that an appraisal of the value of the property and 1927 Building was currently being conducted by the school district and that this may be available as early as this month. Neighborhood residents have questioned the potential terms of the sale of the property and building and have asked for full disclosure of the appraisal results, which should be made available to the community. The HCSD may only offer property for sale three ways:

  1. Through an auction
  2. Direct sale to a charter school
  3.  To another governmental entity. Or transfer of the property from the HCSD, via the Development Finance Authority of Summit County, to a developer

Watch the Liberty Development Presentation:
For those not familiar with the revised Liberty Development plans presented to the community on March 10 and 11, the meetings are available online. Each includes the same presentation, along with question-and-answer periods that followed. We urge all residents to watch one or both of these sessions and learn what could happen not only to an historic building, but to a historic neighborhood in the heart of our city. Videos can be seen below.




WHO TO CONTACT? If you agree this proposal is simply wrong, please make your opinions known by contacting Hudson’s leaders (Download a sample letter by clicking HERE):

Hudson City School District Officials:
Phillip Herman, Superintendent hermanp@hudson.edu
David Zuro, Board President zurod@hudson.edu
Steve DiMauro, Board VP dimauros@hudson.edu
James Field, Board Member fieldj@hudson.edu
Alisa Wright, Board Member wrighta@hudson.edu
Tom Tobin, Board Member tobint@hudson.edu

City of Hudson Officials:
Jane Howington, City Manager jhowington@hudson.oh.us
Craig A. Shubert, Mayor cshubert@hudson.oh.us
Jim Stifler, Economic Development Director jstifler@hudson.oh.us
Greg Hannan, Community Development Director ghannan@hudson.oh.us

Hudson City Council:
Beth Bigham, Ward 4 bbigham@hudson.oh.us
Hal DeSaussure, At Large hdesaussure@hudson.oh.us
Chris Foster, Ward 2 cfoster@hudson.oh.us
Nicole Kowalski, At Large nkowalski@hudson.oh.us
Kate Schlademan, Ward 1 kschlademan@hudson.oh.us
Skylar Sutton, Ward 3 ssutton@hudson.oh.us
William Wooldredge, At Large, Council President wwooldredge@hudson.oh.us