SCHENECTADY — Time is short for the former commercial laundry building at 1435 Erie Blvd.
The crumbling, long-vacant facility is targeted for demolition in the next few months, after utility lines are disconnected and asbestos removed.
The Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority at its meeting Wednesday agreed to spend $68,000 to help tear it down, which is half the quoted price tag.
“It’s a critical parcel, it’s so visible on the Erie corridor,” said Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen.
Demolition, he said, “cleans up something for the east Front Street neighborhood, it cleans up the Erie corridor. And once it’s down, we’re better able to evaluate the environmental” contamination.
The rambling structure totals 27,500 square feet and sits on a 1-acre parcel stretching from Erie Boulevard almost to Front Street.
A 2017 report documents contamination by a variety of chemicals spilled on site during its use as a commercial laundry by Syracuse-based Coyne Textile Services and other chemicals spilled by a commercial car wash that once occupied the spot next door.
The building has been vacant for years. It was not included in the assets Coyne sold to three competitors as part of its bankruptcy proceedings in 2015.
After an extended period of water dripping through the roof, the building has begun to rot, its floors littered in places with rubble.
The building is and will remain privately owned — downstate investor Chaskel Lichtman bought it at auction in 2018 for $103,000. Metroplex has been trying for years, even before the auction, to get it cleaned up and repurposed, but it’s too deteriorated now to save, Gillen said.
Lichtman eventually was convinced that attempting to market the structure would continue to be fruitless, and will try to market it as vacant land, instead, Gillen said.
The Capital Region Land Bank, which is staffed and managed by Metroplex, is assisting. Land Bank Executive Director David Hogenkamp has gained a lot of experience over the years with demolitions for the land bank.
“David’s helping them manage the demolition,” Gillen said. “David is a guru now on this stuff.”
Hogenkamp is now arranging asbestos cleanup and utility disconnects. He said the building will be taken right down to the slab, but the slab itself will remain.
“They did a full asbestos survey — we know where it is,” Hogenkamp said. “As you can see, the building’s in tough condition. So we’re just determining the best way to move forward with demolition.”
He said the quoted demo price is quite reasonable for a building of that size.
“There’s a lot of steel and other things that can be recycled in the building, too,” Hogenkamp said.
The work is tentatively scheduled for early to mid-May.
Gillen said Metroplex will have the right of first refusal on the property after the demolition, as the owner tries to market it.
Coyne was founded in 1929 and at its peak was one of the largest privately operated industrial laundry companies in the United States. When it sold off its assets in 2015, it still operated nine plants and 15 service centers in 23 states, providing sale/rental/laundry services to more than 10,000 customers. Only one of its facilities was included in the sale of assets; the rest were shut down.