City To Demolish Historic Building; Preservation Foundation Expresses Concern

26 Caroline (Middle Building
26 Caroline (Aerial View)

From The Saratogian Newspaper:

Saratoga Springs plans to demolish Caroline Street building

By Joseph Phelan,,, @jphelan13 on Twitter

Posted: 12/07/16, 6:48 PM EST | Updated: 18 hrs ago

SARATOGA SPRINGS >> Despite efforts to preserve 26 Caroline St., the city, based on recommendations from two structural engineers, plans to demolish it Thursday morning.

At the City Council’s pre-agenda meeting Monday, two differing reports were presented, prompting the city to seek a third opinion.

Mike Miller, of Ryan Biggs, inspected the building — which was damaged in a Thanksgiving Day fire — Tuesday morning.

In an e-mail read aloud by city attorney Vincent DeLeonardis at Tuesday’s council meeting, Miller wrote: “The extent of damage has compromised the structural integrity of the building at 26 Caroline Street and forms an unsafe condition. This forms a risk to the public in front of the building, as well as to the adjacent properties. Further collapsing of the building could occur at any time with added loads from snow on the roof that can occur at this time of year. Based on the extent of damage that has occurred, in my opinion, the building should be demolished to reduce the chance of further collapse and a risk to the public.”

DeLeonardis joined Miller at the inspection and he described his experience.

“I walked through the building myself and it’s a devastating site,” DeLeonardis said. “From my own perspective, in a non-engineering way, the building was destroyed.”

City engineer Tim Wales described the possibility of the building collapsing before demolition.

“[Miller] felt it is possible for the roof to collapse [because of] those two big air conditioners sitting there on top, and he felt if we get wind load, snow load or get 6 inches of heavy snow that entire roof could come down … if that would occur, it could destabilize the structure enough to knock that front facade right down, out into the street as early as possible,” Wales said.

Mayor Joanne Yepsen described the situation as one where time is of the essence, which explains the urgency of demolishing the building Thursday.

Wales, however, detailed the construction of the four buildings impacted by last month’s fire and how 26 Caroline St. could cause obstacles for the adjacent buildings.

“These row type structures may not necessarily be keyed into each other, but they all function as one group and if you take out this middle piece it weakens both the sides,” said Wales. “… [Miller] recommended the engineer from [Sperry’s, and Hamlet and Ghost] also pay attention and evaluate the structure for whatever happens to protect their own individual structures. It all kind of ties together, you can’t just come in and rip things down, especially the wall bordering Sperry’s is something that can be very precarious.”

Both establishments complied with Miller’s recommendation.

Trinity, the project’s contractor, as of early Wednesday afternoon was waiting for final approval from the Department of Labor.

From The Saratoga Preservation Foundations Web Site

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26 Caroline Street Demolition

By saratogapreservation | Published: December 7, 2016


26 Caroline Street

The Foundation is pleased that the City of Saratoga Springs took action to declare 26 Caroline Street an emergency to hire an independent structural engineer to evaluate the building to assess its future, especially in light of the differences in the previous structural assessments.  Like the City, the Foundation does not want to jeopardize the public’s safety.  The decision to demolish any historic building in our city that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places should be given full consideration since the preservation of our architectural and cultural heritage contributes to the overall success of our community.  That is why the Foundation hired Don Friedman of Old Structures Engineering to provide an assessment last week despite being denied access by the owner and why the Foundation is willing to contribute up to $2,000 towards the City hiring an independent assessment.

The Foundation was not only concerned with the future of 26 Caroline Street, but also concerned with the immediately adjacent historic structures should partial or complete demolition of 26 Caroline Street be necessary.  We do not want to see any additional damage to those buildings as a result of the removal.

The Foundation is very disappointed to share that at last night’s City Council meeting it was announced that the preliminary report by Mike Miller of Ryan-Biggs indicates that the building posed a public safety risk and needs to be demolished immediately.  The City also said that they plan to move forward with demolition under section 118 (9) (7) of the code.

The Foundation does not know why steps cannot be taken to preserve the façade since we have yet to receive a copy of the owner’s structural report dated November 30 that specifically addresses that topic or a copy of the Ryan-Biggs preliminary report.

Marilyn Rivers, City of Saratoga Springs Director of Risk and Safety, stated at the meeting that as a result of the City’s independent inspection all of the building owners were now in communication and that they each had been encouraged to hire their own structural engineers to protect their buildings as demolition takes place.  While 26 Caroline Street will not be preserved, the inspection did result in increased communication among the owners and increased awareness about the potential impacts demolition may have on the historic adjacent structures.

We believe that the Foundation fulfilled our mission and did all we could to stay involved and advocate for the preservation of this structure or, at least, its façade.  Our Executive Committee met almost daily to develop strategy and make decisions as to our course of action and was kept abreast of developments by the Executive Director.  The full board was kept informed by regular communications from the Executive Director.

The Foundation looks to the future of this site and working with the property owner and the Design Review Commission to ensure that replacement infill is appropriate in scale and design.  The Foundation thanks all those who expressed support of our efforts and to our membership.  Without your continued interest and support we would not have been able to accomplish as much as we did, even if the result is not what we hoped.


3 thoughts on “City To Demolish Historic Building; Preservation Foundation Expresses Concern”

  1. What a shame!
    The façade looked like it would survive, but it will soon be a pile of old bricks.
    It was the home of a Chinese laundry back in the 40s and 50s. Then it was recently known as Coronet Press, owned by Mr. Tom Willson, until the 80s or 90s. The address was 30 Caroline Street. Somewhere along the way the addresses were changed on Caroline St.??? Sperry’s was always 30-1/2, and still is.
    Several other businesses tried to make the location work, but failed. I am glad that the Preservation Foundation made an attempt to save it, good for them.
    Will we see another 6 story building take its place?


    1. The site is worth more money being torn down….oh yea the wall could have been saved easy but it’s a T6 zone….do the math…somebody got a favor here…..funny DRC was muzzelled through this whole process….Marilyn Rivers is a demolition expert now??….amazing!


  2. As was pointed out on a competing blog here there were supposed to be sprinklers in these buildings

    This comment states that there was no enforcement of the sprinkler requirements for these buildings because the owners or x owners were politically connected and ignored the building code requirements. Sprinklers would have stopped this fire very quickly. This could have been ghost ship warehouse fire like in California if the bar had been operating with 36 killed.


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