Schenectady’s marathon fight against a downtown building returns to the field

SCHENECTADY — The dilapidated Wedgeway building may be headed for a new owner and renovation, but that doesn’t mean the city is moving away from code violation charges filed against the current owner over the building’s condition.

Just days after a city judge dismissed 75 of the city’s 89 technical code violations last year, Chief Building Inspector Chris Lunn punched the building’s owner multiple times. floors of State Street and Erie Boulevard with several new violations and guaranteed the news would withstand legal challenges.

At the time, Lunn admitted that one of his code enforcement officers erred in citing the wrong section of a state code for property maintenance on documents related to alleged pre-Wedgeway offenses. “I will personally cite all violations on this property and I can guarantee you that there will be no mistakes, and they better be corrected or it will go back to court,” Lunn predicted. last summer.

Soon that promise will be put to the test. The long legal battle between the city and William Eichengrun, which operates the two buildings at 271-277 under 271-277 State LLC, is heading to trial on August 1. The LLC owns both properties.

Andrew Koldin, the city’s top government attorney, said the violations could result in the court imposing tens of thousands of dollars in fines if Eichengrun is found to have broken the rules.

Koldin said the charges are “very similar” to the charges at trial, calling them “external violations”. A review of the charges last year showed most related to issues on the exterior of the building, including the protective treatment of exterior surfaces such as cornices, doors and window frames. The paperwork also details fire escapes and overhang extensions.

On Friday, neither Eichengrun nor his attorney Andrew Healey returned a call seeking comment.

Even as this legal case unfolds, so does the ongoing sale of the building that once housed the state theater and other attractions.

The Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority is working with Cass Hill Development of Colonie on site restoration and expansion plans. Metroplex is negotiating the sale of the building to Cass Hill Development, which is expected to receive $1.85 million in financial sweeteners for the massive makeover. Under the terms of the agreement, Metroplex will provide $100,000 for stabilization and immediate repairs, plus $1.75 million in a series of additional incentives, including tax relief. Officials hope to tap into at least $600,000 in funds from the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

Draft plans for the project call for a significant addition that would expand the building’s footprint from its current location at the corner of State Street and Erie Boulevard to the corner of Erie and Liberty Street.

A six-story brick building would rise on a property currently used for parking.

The renovated building will include up to 80 apartments and 14,000 square feet of commercial space on the first floor, according to Metroplex.

Koldin said it’s not uncommon for the city to try homeowners more than once for the same or a new code violation.

“It’s more unique in that we’re probably dealing with a high-level building and building owner,” Koldin said.

Asked if the case was stronger this time around, Koldin said he was “confident that we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the violations existed.”

Deputy Body Attorney Bill Sanderson, a seasoned attorney who handled the first trial, will again serve as lead counsel.

During the first trial, the judge dismissed all but 14 of the 89 violations filed against the LLC, agreeing with Healey that the city cited the corporation under the wrong section of the maintenance code for everything from no heat in the now-closed resort camera store has trouble with at least one of three emergency exits at 277 State Street.

The judge, however, ruled that the city had proven 14 violations related to the posting of elevator inspection certificates, the appearance of loose bricks and a broken, uneven sidewalk in front of the camera store.

He ordered the associated LLC to pay a $10,000 fine, which it did.

David H. Henry