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What you need to know for 04/23/2017

Schenectady County DSS building gets its makeover

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Schenectady County DSS building gets its makeover

Getting stucco to adhere to a building is no easy task in cold weather.
Schenectady County DSS building gets its makeover
The new exterior work has been completed on the Schenectady County Department of Social Services building at 797 Broadway.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

Getting stucco to adhere to a building is no easy task in cold weather.

That’s the lesson learned by contractors working on the Schenectady County Department of Social Services building on Broadway. After two years, one lawsuit and more than $500,000 of additional investment, the flaking stucco from the former Lamicoid Building has been repaired in its entirety.

The pockmarks and scaffolding that helped define the building since December 2011 now are gone. The exterior now more befits a building that serves as a gateway to Schenectady’s downtown, said David Buicko, chief operating officer of the Galesi Group, the building’s owner.

“We went through and took every loose piece off,” he said.

The company decided to move forward with repairs last summer despite an ongoing lawsuit against a contractor that initially overhauled the building in 2008. Buicko said the initial thought was the work could be completed by December.

But finding a material that would stick proved to be a bit more tricky than anyone expected. Galesi hired VMJR Companies out of Glens Falls, and a period of trial-and-error began.

Coldness and humidity can pose issues for stucco, and there can be a lot of both in Schenectady throughout the fall, winter and early spring.

“We made the decision [to repair the building] right away,” he said. “We just had to make sure we had the right solution.”

Galesi is still embroiled in litigation with the contractors who overhauled the building. An 11-page civil lawsuit filed last year against Schenectady architectural firm Stracher Roth Gilmore, which also named BCI Construction of Albany, alleges the crumbling stucco posed a hazard that could compromise the structural integrity of the building’s walls.

The lawsuit claims Stracher Roth Gilmore breached its “implied warranty” and was negligent in dealing with 797 Broadway Group — a limited liability corporation registered by Galesi. The filing also accused the architectural firm of “negligent misrepresentation.”

The lawsuit states 797 Broadway paid $4.39 million to BCI to rehabilitate the 45,000-square-foot building. Schenectady County is paying roughly $16 million to lease the structure for 20 years, with an option to buy it after 10 years.

Buicko declined to comment on the lawsuit other than to indicate it is ongoing.

The Lamicoid building was added to both the state and national historic registers, along with the adjacent Micanite Works building in January 2012. Both were deemed landmarks from Schenectady’s industrial past.

Constructed in 1945, the Lamicoid building is the younger of the formidable structures lining Broadway. The complex served as a research and development center, helping the Mica Insulator Co. secure nearly two dozen patents.

The company fell into difficult financial straits in the late 1950s, and Micanite Works eventually closed in 1975. Both buildings were sold to Schenectady International, which used some of the space until leaving them vacant in 2000.

Progress continues on the overhaul of the Micanite building into the future home of the Schenectady YMCA’s residential program. The 155-bed facility was made possible by more than $11 million in tax credits approved by New York State Homes and Community Renewal.

“We hope to have occupants at the end of May,” Buicko said.

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