Schenectady County

Thai Thai Bistro moving to Niskayuna

As plans to repair the Nicholaus building in Schenectady move forward, Thai Thai Bistro is relocatin
The Nicholaus Building in Schenectady is pictured on Monday April 4,2016.
The Nicholaus Building in Schenectady is pictured on Monday April 4,2016.

As plans to repair the Nicholaus building in Schenectady move forward, Thai Thai Bistro is relocating to Niskayuna.

The damage to Nicholaus at 264 State St. “had nothing to do with the demolition” of the former Olender Mattress building next door, said Ray Gillen, chairman of the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority.

He said structural engineers with Ryan Biggs of Clifton Park have not pinpointed the cause of the damage to Nicholaus. He pointed to the building’s age as a factor.

The 1800s building started shaking and cracking on April 1, forcing tenants to evacuate. The three-story building has since been shored up and is awaiting repairs. It is stable at this time.

Jackson Demolition of Schenectady demolished the Olender building at 254 State St. in March along with the BiMor Army & Navy building at 232 State St. and a red brick building at 236 State St.

The vacant lots will be the future home of the Electric City Apartments, a $20 million project by Highbridge Development of Schenectady and Prime Cos. of Cohoes. The 144,000-square-foot building will include 105 luxury apartments and 9,900 square feet of retail space.

Following the demolition of Olender, the developer drove piles into the ground next door for the foundation of the Electric City Apartments.

Highbridge and Plank Construction CEO John Roth was out of town on Wednesday and could not be reached for comment for this story.

“Nowadays when you do construction, you drive piles and do deep foundations,” Gillen said. “Back then they did not do deep foundations. The building basically sits on that site without deep foundations.”

Engineers are now drafting plans to repair the building, he said. Repairs would include rehabilitating the foundation along with replacing the walls and floor on the first floor of the building.

The city and the building owner will review the plans before work begins, Gillen said. It’s unclear at this time when repairs would start on Nicholaus.

It is unknown who will pay for the repairs. Gillen did not provide a cost estimate on Wednesday.

The owner of the Nicholaus building is listed as Viroj Chompupong of Latham, who has owned the building since 2004, according to property records. He could not be reached for comment.

“The building owner has approved an access agreement so that engineers can access the building,” Gillen said. “Once building plans are reviewed by the city, work can begin on both the Nicholaus building and the Electric City Apartments.”

Thai Thai has been out of business since April 1 and plans to open at its new location at ShopRite Plaza on Nott Street in Niskayuna by July or August, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page.

The restaurant will occupy 1,550 square feet between Smashburger and the Dollar Tree. Gillen said Thai Thai owner Piyamas DeMasi is interested in possibly moving back into the Nicholaus building following repairs.

DeMasi did not return a request for comment on Wednesday.

“She wants to be downtown,” Gillen said. “She is committed to that as well. She wants to eventually get back into the building.”

The two tenants who lived upstairs from Thai Thai in the Nicholaus building have been relocated, he said.

Mayor Gary McCarthy said the city’s Engineering Department has not yet received the plans for repairs to Nicholaus from Ryan Biggs.

“They have to submit them and then we will review them and turnaround as quickly as we can,” he said.

McCarthy said the perimeter around Nicholaus would remain blocked to traffic as the project moves forward.

He noted that “extensive work” was done inside the building prior to the demolition next door to ensure its preservation.

“We wanted to make sure it would be able to withstand any vibrations and impact of the construction,” he said. “It’s a scenario that happened that wasn’t quite covered the way it should have been.”

The Nicholaus building, which dates to about 1820, was named after German immigrant Louis Nicholaus. Nicholaus came to Schenectady around 1870 to work for the Schenectady Locomotive Works, later the American Locomotive Co.

The building was remodeled by Nicholaus in 1901, which is why that’s the date branded on its facade. The family’s Nicholaus German Restaurant operated there until 1975.

After the restaurant closed, a gas leak in the basement of the building caused an explosion, blowing out one of the walls. It was reopened in 1977 and occupied by Maurice Readi-Foods.

The ground-floor space more recently housed Bangkok Bistro. In 2012 a part owner of the restaurant was killed in a freak elevator accident. The restaurant then shut down and DeMasi, who was a server at Bangkok, opened Thai Thai Bistro there soon after.

Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, [email protected] or @HRViccaro on Twitter.

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