A historic building constructed in the 1870s that connects a row of longstanding storefronts in Saratoga Springs could be coming down following an early morning fire on Thanksgiving that started at Mio Posto, an Italian restaurant at 68 Putnam St., and spread to surrounding establishments.
The vacant, 6,500-square-foot building at 30 Caroline St. was condemned by Building Inspector Steve Shaw and recommended the day after the fire for demolition by an engineer contracted by the building’s owner, Lou Lazzinnaro. The two-story building connects in the back to Mio Posto and sustained extensive fire damage, its roof and second floor partially collapsing.
“It is my recommendation that the sidewalk be closed off to pedestrian traffic and the building be demolished expeditiously,” reads the report by Ernest Gailor of Harlan-McGee of North America.
Code Enforcement Officer Dan Cogan said the report found the building to be unsafe to the public — a finding supported by the city fire and building departments, he said.
“It’s basically a threat,” he said. “The longer it sits there, the worse it’s going to get. Rain’s not our friend, and snow would be a mortal enemy at this point.”
He added, “It’s unfortunate, but this building really can’t be saved.”
Lazzinnaro looked over the taped-off site as city crews disconnected utilities Tuesday afternoon. He said he was working with the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation to determine if there was any way to save the historic building’s facade.
“We have to do some demolition work inside the building and move forward from there,” he said. “We want it done as soon as possible because it’s a safety hazard.”
He said he purchased the property a couple years ago and had planned to breathe new life into the vacant building, possibly as another Italian restaurant similar to one he owns in Milton called Nové.
“I was relieved to hear nobody got hurt,” he said. “Aside from that, it’s OK.”
Jason Perillo of Trinity Building and Construction Management, the company contracted for the demolition work, was also on site Tuesday, and said he hoped to move forward with the demolition early next week.
“We’re pulling the demo permits as we speak,” he said.
The Italianate-styled commercial building is part of the Broadway Historic District and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, said Samantha Bosshart, executive director of the Preservation Foundation. It has distinctive brickwork similar to that of the Adelphi Hotel on Broadway, she said. It was built in the late 19th century as a tannery for Charles H. Sturges and used to have large service bays, which were converted to storefronts after 1908. At one point, it was owned by the Palmetto Fruit Co.
“The foundation is thankful for the City of Saratoga Springs Fire Department and other area fire departments who responded to the call and contained the fire to limit the damage, and we are still exploring options to see if there’s any way that the building or the facade can be preserved,” she said.
The fire was caused by a faulty electrical extension cord, Saratoga Springs Fire Chief Robert Williams said in a news release Monday night. It started at 2:32 a.m. on Nov. 24 in a small storage area at the rear of Mio Posto where the extension cord was located, the fire chief said.
The fire burned throughout the first floor and ceiling of Mio Posto and then spread into adjacent buildings at 24 and 30 Caroline St., he said. Three other businesses on Caroline and Putnam streets — the Hamlet & Ghost, The Ice House and Sperry’s Restaurant — suffered smoke and water damage and are closed for now, and there was extensive fire damage to the vacant 30 Caroline St., its roof and second floor partially collapsing.
There were no injuries in the fire, and the residents of 241⁄2 Caroline St. were evacuated. Crews worked until 5 p.m. to extinguish small pockets of hidden fire.
Danny Urschel, owner and chef of Mio Posto, could not be reached Tuesday for comment, but said in published media reports that the space is a total loss and he plans to reopen elsewhere.
Brendan Dillon, owner of the Hamlet & Ghost at 24 Caroline St., said he hopes to reopen in two to three weeks in the same location. He started a GoFundMe page on Friday to raise funds for the bar’s about 15 employees, who were left without work during the usually busy holiday season. As of Tuesday night, the page had raised $11,170 toward its $20,000 goal.
Reach Gazette reporter Ned Campbell at 395-3142, [email protected] or @nedcampbell on Twitter.