The large twin yellow signs pointing out Dibbo's on Second Street in Hudson may soon be coming down as the building undergoes a metamorphosis to restore its past glory while complying with modern codes.
A Town of Clifton man operating as Last Man Standing LLC presented a concept to the City of Hudson Plan Commission Thursday night that would turn the landmark building in historic downtown Hudson into a modern restaurant and craft beer pub with a banquet hall in the back. Retail, office and residential spaces are planned for the two floors above. At the same time, the plan calls for restoring the original appearance of the 137-year-old building.
Anthony Dabruzzi told the Plan Commission that he grew up in nearby Afton and attended many concerts at Dibbo's Nightclub over the years and he still spends a lot of time in Hudson.
"A while ago I had the opportunity to talk to the owners about purchasing the property," Dabruzzi said. "We've now got a purchase contract in place and we want to try to revitalize the building from where it is today to a heart of Hudson again as it used to be. It's a beautiful property that's got a lot of potential, and we've got some plans in place to show you tonight to bring that property back to its full potential."
Dabruzzi told the commission that it wouldn't be an immediate change and it would be a large project that would be completed through multiple phases. He did, however, say that he hopes to have the first portion of the project — the restaurant and pub — complete by June 1, 2013 so he can take advantage of Hudson's tourism and boating season.
Todd Zwiefelhofer of Elliot Architects presented most of the details to the commission, including how the transformation would take place.
"The first goal is to bring this historic building back to its original state, and breathe some life back into it," Zwiefelhofer said. "Phase 1 would include a complete demolition down to the structure of the entire building, and bringing the building up to code."
Once the property is in compliance with modern building codes, work would begin on the front of the property, which would house the restaurant and craft beer pub with new restrooms and a new kitchen, Zwiefelhofer said. He estimated that portion of the facility — currently the bar and cafe — would seat 127 people.
Next, restoration work would take place on the outside of the structure to restore the building to its 1875 glory, including opening up the arch window where horses used to enter.
Once that is complete, Dabruzzi hopes to immediately begin work on the back portion of the property — currently a nightclub. The plan calls for turning the space into a banquet hall to be used primarily on weekends for a wedding and reception venue with seating for up to 300 people.
The next phase would happen later, based on demand. Dabruzzi hopes to turn the second and third floors of the building — currently boarding rooms — into a mix of office, retail and residential spaces.
What About Parking?
The key drawback to the Dibbo's property is the lack of convenient on-site parking. The commission discussed the amount of funds would be required under the city's payment in lieu of parking fee, which is dictated by Hudson City Code Section 255-48. The fees amount to $2,500 per parking stall required as determined by the following formula:
"...one for each 100 square feet of usable floor space or one for each two persons allowed within the maximum occupancy load as established by the State Building Code, whichever is greater; except for the B-3, Central Business District, which will require one for each 100 square feet of usable floor space or one for each three persons allowed within the maximum occupancy load as established by the State Building Code."
Several commissioners expressed regret that the funds, which would likely cost $25,000 to $47,500, may keep the development from taking place.
Community Development Director Denny Darnold offered some suggestions to Dabruzzi about how he could apply for grants to offset construction costs and free up parts of the alley and basement for use as parking stalls.
At the Oct. 22 Hudson Common Council meeting, District 2 Alderwoman Mary Yacoub, who is on the Plan Commission, asked that a discussion on the subject of the city's payment in lieu of parking requirement be added to the Nov. 19 meeting agenda. Now that conversation will take place with the Dibbo's project specifically in mind.
"I think it's really almost an insult when someone's committed to invest $1 million-plus and then you have to tack on an extra $25,000 for parking," said commission member Paul Radermacher. "I just think it's ridiculous."
Yacoub pointed out that there is already is public parking lots at the beach house, near Pier 500 and next to Wells Fargo, and that people shouldn't be deterred by walking a block or two.
"We have parking downtown; we have a walking problem," Yacoub said.
Dabruzzi acknowledged the lack of adequate parking for the banquet facility, and offered a solution that included having guests park elsewhere in the city and take a shuttle to the banquet hall.
Each of the commission members in attendance offered their preliminary support for the building concept.
"It's a great idea," said Commission member Fred Yoerg. "Hudson wants that; Hudson needs that."
Radermacher said he was "excited about the project" and said the project would be "a great element to the city."
Yoerg made a motion to approve and endorse the concept, which was immediately seconded and voted for by the attending commission members. Mayor Alan Burchill and commission member Kevin Vance were absent.