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Plenty of blame in Nicholaus collapse

Plenty of blame in Nicholaus collapse

Plenty of blame in Nicholaus collapse
The Nicholaus Building
Photographer: Peter Barber

In your report Monday about the Nicholaus Building you used the phrase “All that remains of Schenectady’s iconic Nicholaus building is a small pile of rubble, but what will replace it is up to the property owners who declined to fix it over the past year.” Just so that you understand the owners’ reason, let me explain.

The Nicholaus building was doomed to collapse the moment permission was granted to dig straight down immediately next to the building footing. There was no way to repair that building. When someone wants to save a structure, especially one that is 200 years old, an apron is left next to the footing so that there is support for the building.

The size of that apron is determined by the estimated weight of the building. When you cut straight down immediately next to a footing at any serious depth, the footing will collapse if not replaced immediately with a substantial substitute.

If the city granted permission for the contractor to remove soil immediately next to and straight down below the footing of that building it is as liable for damages as the contractor who did it.

There was no way after that was done that the owner of the building could have repaired it. It was doomed to fail from the time that was done.

If I were owner Viroj Chompupong, I would have a cease-and-desist order issued to halt construction of the apartment building until I was made whole for the damage that was done to my building. I would sue everyone involved, from the city for approval to the contractor who did the digging and the architect who wrote the plans.

They all should have known better than to do this and are liable.

Glenn Schermerhorn


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