Trial looms for owner of embattled downtown Schenectady building

PETER R. BARBER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER The Kresce building at State Street and Erie Boulevard in Schenectady Tuesday, December 1, 2020.

PETER R. BARBER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER The Kresce building at State Street and Erie Boulevard in Schenectady Tuesday, December 1, 2020.

SCHENECTADY — The owner of a landmark downtown building is scheduled to head to trial over a raft of code violations.

Proceedings are scheduled to begin Monday in City Court against William Eichengrun, owner of the Wedgeway Building.

City Corporation Counsel Andrew Koldin said while Eichengrun told him in a previous court appearance that he has fixed the violations, Eichengrun has not scheduled the necessary inspection to confirm or refute that the violations had been remediated as of Tuesday.

That’s what triggered the city to go to trial after numerous adjournments and COVID-induced delays, he said.

“The city requested that the court schedule the case for trial due to the property owner failing to abate the violations, which includes scheduling re-inspection upon completion of any remedial work,” Koldin said.

The pending trial comes one year after an investigation by the Daily Gazette prompted a wave of inspections by the city’s code enforcement bureau that revealed numerous interior and external code violations at the former home of the State Theater, including crumbling bricks and a fire exit authorities deemed unsafe, among other issues.

At one point last year, the city ordered residential tenants to vacate until the problems were remediated (and acknowledged there was no effective way to ensure tenants didn’t return).

The building, located at the corner of Erie Boulevard and State Street, remains fenced off on the Erie Boulevard side due to falling bricks.

Eichengrun, who operates the building under the name 271-277 State LLC, faces roughly a half-dozen violations, which could result in thousands of dollars in fines.

Fines can range from $500 to $1,000 on each count.

Yet each day the property is in violation, it is considered a separate count and costs can build exponentially.

“Every day during that time period would be a separate count for that particular charge,” Koldin said.

Attorney Lora Como on Tuesday said she was no longer representing Eichengrun, who didn’t return a request for comment.

Koldin said the city would rather have compliance than go to trial, which doesn’t inherently resolve the underlying violations.

“As it stands with all property maintenance code violations, the city expects property owners to cure all violations in order to ensure that the people of Schenectady have safe and secure homes in which to live,” Koldin said.

Despite the issues, there has been no evidence presented that indicates the building is structurally unsound.

A structural engineer hired by the city determined in February that the building is “generally stable” but in need of repairs to bring it into compliance, including repairing the mortar joints keeping bricks in place, which have nearly turned to dust in some areas, according to the report.

While numerous businesses once called the site home, just one remains after a bodega vacated in February.

The hulking complex is among the few buildings left untouched by downtown revitalization and sits amid several high-profile projects, including the Mill Artisan District, Electric City Apartments and the Schenectady Train Station.

More projects proposed by developers are poised to alter the landscape, including a new apartment complex on lower Erie Boulevard proposed by the same developers behind Electric City.

Categories: Business, News, Schenectady County

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