Schenectady County

Thai Thai Bistro owner moves to sue over building damage

The owner of Thai Thai Bistro is moving to sue the city of Schenectady over damage to the Nicholaus
The Nicholaus Block building, located at State Street and Erie Boulevard.
The Nicholaus Block building, located at State Street and Erie Boulevard.

The owner of Thai Thai Bistro is moving to sue the city of Schenectady over damage to the Nicholaus building.

Piyamas Demasi, owner of Thai Thai, retained attorney Frank Putorti and filed a notice of claim against the city last month over property damage, loss of business and personal injury.

The claim cites “the negligence of the city of Schenectady” in the inspection and granting of permits and permission to demolish and construct buildings next door to Nicholaus.

Thai Thai was located on the first floor of the Nicholaus building at 264 State St. Demasi leased the space from building owner Viroj Chompupong, who purchased it in 2004 for $201,000.

“The city of Schenectady, its agents, servants and employees were negligent in maintaining, controlling, designing, possessing, inspecting, repairing and/or constructing in the area at, adjacent to and in the vicinity of the Nicholaus building,” the claim states.

Demasi said the building started shaking while the restaurant was serving customers on the afternoon of April 1. The city’s Building Department issued an order to vacate. The building has since been shored up and stabilized.

Thai Thai has been out of business since April 1. The restaurant will reopen at ShopRite Plaza in Niskayuna in July or August. Tenants of the building have found temporary housing.

Demasi is claiming personal injury from dust inhalation and safety concerns from the shaking and vibrating of the building, cracking and separating of walls, ceilings and floors, and thunderous noises.

The claim also notes property damage including damage to the floor, tile, equipment and other personal property along with food and supplies. Thai Thai also suffered loss of business income and investment, the claim says.

Putorti could not be reached for comment for this story. In an email, Demasi said she had been working to negotiate a lease for the Niskayuna site as a second location with attorney Paul Sciocchetti since June 2015.

She said the new space, which totals 1,550 square feet, will seat 62 and serve Thai food, sushi and have a full bar. She said her goal is to operate two restaurants, possibly moving back into the Nicholaus building in the future.

“I should be running two restaurants,” she said. “That is my goal in 2016. But unfortunately the Schenectady location closed. I have no idea when we can be back open in the Nicholaus building.”

The Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority has retained Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, a New York City-based structural engineering company, to repair the building, Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said.

The company, a national historic preservation firm, has been working on site and is planning additional building repairs, Gillen said. Metroplex is paying the independent firm $30,000 as part of the engineering services contract.

“Hopefully they will know more as they continue the work,” Gillen said. “We hope to get the project next door started again.”

He said the firm is recommending the city reopen the lanes on Erie Boulevard next to the building that are still blocked to traffic.

The former Olender Mattress building next to Nicholaus, along with the BiMor Army & Navy building and a red brick building, were demolished to make way for the Electric City Apartments.

The $20 million project by Highbridge Development of Schenectady and Prime Companies of Cohoes will feature 105 luxury apartments and 9,900 square feet of retail space.

The $30,000 for the engineering contract was money previously allocated for the Electric City Apartments, Gillen said.

Gillen repeated Sunday that the demolition of the Olender building by Jackson Demolition of Schenectady did not cause the damage to Nicholaus.

When asked if it was the development next door, which was ongoing at the time of the damage, Gillen said, “The cause and fault will be worked out between the insurance companies.”

Gillen stressed that there was “extensive work” done in Nicholaus before demolition work started next door, which included stabilization work and the installation of sensors to measure any structural movements.

It is unclear when repairs will be completed or when the Nicholaus building, which dates back to the 1800s, can be occupied again.

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

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