Owner again seeks to raze historic Saratoga Springs house
Deteriorating home center of dispute since ’08
SARATOGA SPRINGS The owner of the deteriorating house at 66 Franklin St., which was built in 1871, is again seeking permission to have the historic structure demolished.
Joseph Boff maintains that the house in the Franklin Square Historic District is beyond saving. He said previous owners had removed interior moldings, mantels, soffits, doors and other fixtures and generally neglected the structure.
The case has been in and out of court since 2008 with Boff seeking demolition and the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation asking him and the city to find a way to save the structure.
The Preservation Foundation continues to offer a $50,000 grant to an owner who rehabilitates the house.
Boff came to this month’s Design Review Commission with a draft environmental impact statement required by the commission, which has oversight of structures in the city’s historic districts. The commission asked Boff for more information to be included in the impact statement and took no action on his demolition request.
The house, called the Winans-Crippen House after early owners, was designed by John D. Stevens, who also designed the now-gone United States and Grand Central hotels, both once situated on Broadway, according to the Preservation Foundation.
“It is one of a handful of structures designed by Stevens remaining in Saratoga Springs,” according to a Preservation Foundation statement.
The house is described as a contributing structure to the Franklin Square Historic District that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“The draft EIS is 100 percent complete but we are making some minor changes to satisfy the Design Review Commission,” Boff said in an email.
He said he expects the Design Review Commission to vote on the demolition request “in the next few weeks.”
“There has never in Saratoga Springs’ history been an EIS prepared for a single family home, so I don’t know how they could make the call that it’s [the impact statement] insufficient,” Boff said about the commission’s request for more information.
Anthony Ianniello of Clifton Park, Boff’s attorney, said environmental impact statements are not generally required for single family homes like 66 Franklin St. He said there is no precedent on what such an EIS should or should not contain.
“The house is a safety hazard as described by every qualified official in the city [including fire and code enforcement] and has been condemned for demolition,” Boff said in a May 24 email.
He said the house is “lost because of 25 years of neglect from the previous two owners.”
Samantha Bosshart, executive director of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, said the Design Review Commission is in the process of determining whether the draft environmental impact statement is acceptable to be released for public review.
“To be acceptable, the document must meet the minimum standards set forth by state legislation,” Bosshart said.
“The Foundation has reviewed the draft submitted by the applicant and felt that it failed to meet those standards in several ways. Those deficiencies were detailed in a letter submitted to the DRC,” she said in a prepared statement.
“The draft environmental impact statement is supposed to assemble and present relevant materials upon which the final decision is to be made. It also is required to impartially analyze the significant adverse impacts of the proposed demolition and how these impacts can be avoided or minimized,” Bosshart said.
“The Foundation is urging the DRC to make sure that the document meets the minimum standard for completeness before the public comment period begins,” Bosshart said in her statement.
The city has required Boff to make sure 66 Franklin St. is stabilized and secure from intruders by boarding up windows and doors.
In past years, there have been complaints of people entering the building without permission.
Ianniello said the building is beyond renovation and would have to be replicated at a very significant and unreasonable cost to his client.