A Broader Look Recognizes His Contributions

David Kramer, the Hudson President You Don't Know

Updated 20 weeks ago David Stone
Hudson President, David Kramer
Hudson President, David Kramer
File photo

An article in The Real Deal, early this month, reminds us that more recent news has unfairly obscured Hudson President David Kramer's praiseworthy work on Roosevelt Island. It also fleshes him out as a real person who's worked his way through many of the same challenges, personally and professionally, that you and I have.

Over the past year, the ongoing failure of Main Street Retail and controversy over landing the RI Icon in the Tram Plaza were puffs of smoke in contrast with Hudson's starting construction on its eighth residential tower in Southtown, one that will add substantial affordable housing for the community.

That's unfortunate.

On balance, in its partnership with The Related Companies, Hudson under Kramer's leadership has made Roosevelt Island better, not just different.

A profile, The Closing: David Kramer, in The Real Deal, encouraged us to take another look. 

Note: The Daily thanks our reader and Southtown resident Sylvan Klein for the tip. 

To be fair, we published a Q&A with Kramer, "This beautiful island..." a year ago. It gave Hudson's leader a chance to tell his side of a story that's usually featured only when things go wrong.

And some certainly have.

If Kramer's optimism about Main Street Retail pans out to gold, it will surprise almost all of us who've watched seven years of announcements, openings and closings that left the center of town about as impoverished as it was before Hudson and The Related Companies took over.

With Bubble Cool failing to survive a full year, the closing of Riverwalk Bar & Grill leaving a huge gap and some operations dangerously behind on rent, it'll take a lot of improvement to begin turning a corner. 

The less said about the RI Icon, the better. So much has been said already. But at this point, it's clear that, while residents have mixed feelings, visitors love it, posing for a steady stream of photos as Trams drop them out of the sky here.

Like it or not, the Roosevelt Island red sculpture was parked there for tourists, and it's doing exactly what it was meant to do.

That much out of the way... 

The House at Cornell Tech as originally envisioned.
The House at Cornell Tech as originally envisioned.
File photo

Any honest accounting of the history of the Hudson-Related partnership on Roosevelt Island has to single out Southtown's development for gracefully ushering Roosevelt Island into a necessary future.

Someone was going to build out the space that, less than twenty years ago, was occupied by a decrepit, long abandoned nurses' residence, random foundations reminding us of an industrial past, fields growing wild and the original community garden, all of it surrounding a subway station, then the newest in New York and, at the time, actually looking the part.

It's hard to imagine any other developer doing a better job or adding so much to our community's diversity. Southtown's impact has been enormous, changing Roosevelt Island in a way that will never allow it to go back to the provincialism of the '80s when we were happily unknown and uncrowded.

It had to happen, and we were lucky it happened with Hudson and The Related Companies. Their buildings are clean, comfortable examples of what diverse community developments should be, nothing cheap or corners cutting about them.

In spite of Riverwalk Bar & Grill's closing - after "nine good years," as departing owner Jonathan Hoo noted - Southtown's brought us a popular Starbucks and a handy Duane Reade along with smaller businesses serving us.

Less recognized is The House, developed in partnership with Cornell, that opened as the largest eco-friendly "passive house" in the world. Somehow, that achievement got lost in all the other breaking news Cornell Tech brought to everyone's attention.

While David Kramer is far from the only contributor to Hudson-Related's results here, for better or worse, he's been the most visible face of it on Roosevelt Island.

He's also been far more accessible and open to criticism, as well as staunch in defense, than we'd normally expect. Kramer does not hide behind corporate spokespersons or innocuous press releases.

It's another thing we should be thankful for. 

You can get to know him, his history and his values, including his surprising start in affordable housing, in the Real Deal article. We urge you to take a look and probably a second look.

It might change your point of view.


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