Nicholaus Building’s owners targeted

City officials have filed about a dozen code violations
The Nicholaus Building is seen last April as efforts were made to shore up the west side of the building.
The Nicholaus Building is seen last April as efforts were made to shore up the west side of the building.

Building code violations have been filed against the owners of the historic Nicholaus Building, after they failed to respond to demands to fix the damaged structure, officials said this week.

The violations came as the owners Viroj and Malinee Chompupong filed another lawsuit against construction companies and the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority over damage to their building, which stands at the corner of State Street and Erie Boulevard.

The structure has been closed since its west wall, facing a large construction project, shifted on April 1, causing cracks and the separation of walls, ceilings and floors.

Emergency efforts stabilized the building, but it has remained uninhabitable. The neighboring building project, the State Street Electric City Apartments, also remains stalled.

City and Metroplex officials have expressed frustration, as the building has remained shuttered with no obvious plan for repairs.

Metroplex, a defendant in the owners’ latest lawsuit, hired an engineering firm to draw up repair plans and turned those over to the Chompupongs in August. Metroplex said it has not heard back.

City Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico said the city also has not heard from the owners. As a result, about a dozen building code violations have been filed against the owners related to the building being structurally unsafe.

The Chompupongs are due in court next month to answer the violations. If sustained, they could result in daily fines, Falotico said.

“We have made an enormous effort to try to work with the property owner to help take care of the problems over there,” Falotico said, “and the owner has not taken the initiative. These violations are because we can’t allow the property to stay in that condition for an indefinite amount of time.”

Falotico added that the city takes a case-by-case approach to such situations, noting there are certain things that can’t be fixed in the winter. But, he said, the city needs a plan from the owners on how the violations will be resolved.

An attorney representing the Chompupongs couldn’t be reached for comment for this story.

Attorney Anthony Dougherty of New York City filed the lawsuit last week in state Supreme Court in Schenectady County against Metroplex, Highbridge/Prime Development, C2 Design Architecture, Plank, D.A. Collins Construction and Ryan Biggs Clark Davis Engineering and Surveying.

Attorneys for those companies also could not be reached for comment.

Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said he couldn’t comment on the suit, but he reiterated the authority’s past efforts to help the owners fix the property or find buyers.

The Chompupongs’ suit alleges damages from intentional or reckless conduct and negligence and seeks $2 million in damages for property damage, lost income and loss of market value.

The suit also gives an outline of alleged offers from Plank to purchase the building, including an initial offer of $375,000. The suit states that the offer came in September 2016, though the context suggests the date to be a typo — that the offer came in prior to the damage.

Resulting from defendants’ “architectural, design, demolition, excavation, and engineering, site and shoring work,” the Nicholaus building sustained severe damage, the suit states.

The action notes that Thai Thai Bistro, which relocated and reopened in Niskayuna’s ShopRite Square earlier this month, rented the street-level space, and apartments above were also rented.

After the damage, this past Sept. 19, the suit reads that Highbridge made a new offer of $450,000 for the building, which the owners felt remained below market value.

The building owners previously filed a notice of claim against the city, the precursor to a possible lawsuit. However, their filed suit includes no claims against the city.

The suit is the latest in the overall incident. Thai Thai Bistro filed against the owners, Highbridge/Prime, Plank, D.A. Collins and the city of Schenectady last month.

Plank, the construction arm of Highbridge, and its subcontractor on the Electric City Apartments project D.A. Collins also have suits pending against each other over the damage caused by construction work.

Categories: -News-, Schenectady County

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