Preservation Foundation Expresses Disappointment Over City’s Demolition Of 26 Caroline Street

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Unfortunate Loss of 26 Caroline Street

The Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation is disappointed that the City of Saratoga Springs did not disclose at the City Council meeting that the front façade of 26 Caroline Street could be preserved.  Yesterday the Foundation received a copy of the City’s final structural engineer report from Ryan Biggs |Clark Davis Engineering & Surveying.  The report noted the following:

Observations:  “The front masonry façade does not appear to have been damaged or displaced by the fire; however, there are some pre-existing conditions of minor displacements and bulges in the masonry. However, further collapse of the building framing could compromise this wall.”  Please note that the pre-existing conditions appear in a 1982 photograph.

Conclusions: “The front masonry façade appears to be stable with no signs of major structural distress; however, with potential additional collapse of the floor and roof framing, this could cause damage and/or movements of the façade with possible collapse of the wall.  With regard to saving the front façade, in my opinion this is structurally feasible (emphasis added).  However, design of a shoring and lateral stabilization system would need to be completed and implemented immediately.”

“The concern with attempting to retain the front façade is time the building would be left in an unstable condition during the design and construction of the stabilization, and the potential high cost to implement the stabilization. In addition, access to the building for demolition or major construction activities can only be made from the front (north side) and the safe demolition of the remaining portions for the building would be more difficult and costly if the façade is to remain.”

“Therefore, costs of the stabilization and shoring of the façade along with increased demolition costs appear to be disproportionally high to the benefit to save the front wall that has current problems.”

“It appears the complete demolition of the building may need to occur to form a safe condition if a stabilization system cannot be installed immediately.”  Note: no cost for preserving the façade was provided by Ryan-Biggs.

“If the City decides to proceed with demolition of the building, it is recommended that each adjacent property owner have their buildings reviewed by their own engineer in advance of demolition to determine if there are any other concerns with the structural stability of their buildings if 26 Caroline Street is demolished.”

“Demolition will most likely need to proceed slowly to access the existing conditions where 26 Caroline Street abuts the adjacent properties to make sure no unstable conditions are formed in the adjacent properties.”  In the interest of full-disclosure, please   click here to view the final report provided by Ryan Biggs | Clark Davis Engineering & Surveying and click here to view the letter from the owner’s structural engineer addressing the preservation of the façade.  The observations and conclusions made by Mike Miller of Ryan Biggs | Clark Davis Engineering & Surveying regarding the preservation of the façade and potential damage to the adjacent structures echo the structural engineer report that the Foundation hired Don Friedman of Old Structures Engineering to prepare.  Click here to view the Old Structures Engineering report.

The Foundation is further disappointed that the City of Saratoga Springs chose not to seek a cost benefit analysis regarding the potential to preserve the façade prior to moving forward with approving full demolition and that the Design Review Commission was not given any opportunity to provide an advisory opinion or that several of its members were not informed of its imminent demolition. The Foundation did its best to fulfill our mission and advocate for the preservation of this structure or, at least, its façade with available resources.   We are saddened by the loss of 26 Caroline Street and will be actively involved in the review of the redevelopment of the site.   Again, thank you to our members for their continued support of our mission and to those who have expressed support and gratitude for our efforts!

7 thoughts on “Preservation Foundation Expresses Disappointment Over City’s Demolition Of 26 Caroline Street”

  1. Hate to say I told you so….the DRC is the lead agent here….where are they???…better yet where is the property owner??Isn’t this property on the historic registry???,then where’s the state??…..It looks like a sinister purpose is knock’in on ones’ door..here we go again!

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  2. This was a difficult structure fire. The SSFD and many other agencies deserve praise for preventing the spread to 24 and 30 Caroline. Unfortunately, 26 Caroline suffered severe damage and building inspector Steve Shaw had to condemn that building and ordered that it be demolished. His determination is consistent with that of the fire chief, the code enforcement officers, the engineer hired by the building owner (Ernest Gailor) and the engineer hired by the City to provide a second opinion (Ryan Biggs). There are no inconsistencies in these opinions.

    Ernest Gailor was asked by the City to address the issue of preserving the 26 Caroline facade. He stated that the facade could not be ‘safely saved’ and that, given the poor access from any other side, it would be very difficult to carefully demolish the building without going through the front of the building. This opinion is also consistent with those of City officials and with the Ryan Biggs letter.

    No one in City Hall wants to see a building demolished without good reason. The condition of 26 Caroline constitutes a public safety emergency. The role of the DRC is circumvented in such situations. Hopefully a controlled demolition will proceed expeditiously to reduce the very real possibility of an un-controlled collapse which could put persons in the vicinity or the remaining adjacent buildings at risk.

    Chris Mathiesen

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    1. DRC should have been involved that’s their role,sorry to disagree with the dentist and I’m not alone,if the owner wants to save the front facade it is possible,as a person who’s been involved in the construction business both private and public for over 45 years I’m left wondering why the wall is not shored up…clear and present danger to the public???

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    2. I agree this was a difficult structure fire, but it could have been prevented. An ounce of prevention is worth a ton of apologies. The firefighter did not need to be placed in harm’s way, but they were by this form of government. This situation was created by the Mayor’s office with lax enforcement of building and zoning codes.
      If sprinklers had been installed and operable in this building the fire would not have been as devastating, and there would be no argument between the neighbors. The building would have been standing. There were several renovations and transfer of ownership that should have required the installation of sprinklers, but alas they were not. Too expensive, too much work, too connected, it is ok don’t worry about it.
      Further, there was also a stop work order one to two months ago that was quashed. Did the fire department know that the building’s structure had been compromised when they arrived at 2:30 am as per the stop work order?
      Was this communicated by the Mayor’s office to Public Safety?
      This is the problem with this form a government, the regulators are controlled by the politicians, and one department does not communicate with the others, it has now lead to endangerment of city employees.

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      1. The form of gov’t has nothing to do with this but nice try….by the way who squashed the stop work order….that would be hard to do especially if no one talks to each other!

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      2. Merlin:

        Building Inspector Mike Carlson resigned and a settlement agreement was awarded and signed at the last council meeting. Does that answer your question about who squashed the stop work order?

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  3. Not sure what this has to do with the form of government. It seems like it has more to do with the competence, or rather lack of competence of a particular office holder at the moment, namely the Mayor. All forms of government are populated by politicians and no form can make us immune from incompetent officeholders who the voters choose to put in office.

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