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Owner of Wedgeway building in Schenectady cited for code violations

Owner of Wedgeway building in Schenectady cited for code violations

City officials say Eichengrun has agreed to obtain an engineering consultant to conduct a structural report
Owner of Wedgeway building in Schenectady cited for code violations
The Kredge and Wedgeway buildings at the corner of State Street and Erie Boulevard in Schenectady.
Photographer: Marc Schultz / Gazette Photographer

SCHENECTADY — The owner of a deteriorating downtown building has been formally issued a summons by the city for a series of outstanding code violations.

Five tickets were personally delivered to Wedgeway owner William Eichengrun last week. 

Eichengrun was cited for bricks falling off the crumbling structure and an elevator lacking an up-to-date inspection certificate. 

He’s also accused of failing to provide heat to two businesses on the State Street side of the structure, where occupants have resorted to temporarily using electrical heaters connected to outlets by extension cords, according to the violations. 

And he's expected to be issued an additional citation for a fire escape that has failed to pass inspection, city officials said on Monday. 

Eichengrun didn’t return a request for comment from The Daily Gazette on Monday. 

While the falling bricks prompted the city to declare the structure located at 271-277 State St. as “dangerous” — and the discovery of missing bolts on a fire escape led to a partial condemnation of the site issued the day before Thanksgiving — the building itsefl doesn’t appear to be structurally unsafe, officials said. 

“There were not concerns about the building’s structural integrity,” said city Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico.

Chief Building Inspector Christopher Lunn said that Eichengrun has agreed to obtain an engineer to conduct a report on the building’s structural stability, and that the the city will obtain its own expert to cross-reference the study.

The former is expected Tuesday, Lunn said. 

Violations had not been remediated by Monday afternoon. 

“No violations have been 100 percent satisfied,” Lunn said. “Nothing has passed yet.” 

But, he said, Eichengrun is working to bring the heating system and fire escape back into compliance, repairs that would lift the order to vacate for the upstairs residential tenants. 

“Once the fire escape has been fixed, residents will be allowed back in,” Falotico said.

Eichengrun is due in City Court on Jan. 13.

Code inspectors also inspected three apartment units in the structure last week. 

“There was no violations in the units,” said Lunn. 

Despite the order, tenants have skirted the directive, freely coming and going since the building was condemned.

With 40 standing orders to vacate throughout the city as of last week, officials have acknowledged difficulty in monitoring condemned buildings, citing limited resources.

Lunn previously pegged the number of apartment units in the building at four, but appeared surprised when a reporter alerted him to a previously unknown second-floor apartment that is occupied. 

Despite the condemnation order, the apartment units are also being rented illegally because Eichengrun lacks the rental certificates required to house tenants, Lunn said, a violation of a new state law. 

That city-issued document certifies there are no imminent life-safety issues.

State Street Tattoo Co. was not included in the initial order to vacate issued Nov. 26 despite a red notice pasted on both entrances. 

“We did a very poor job of explaining that,” Falotico said. “They have been operating legally.”

The unfolding situation has exposed potential holes in the city's efforts to improve its handling of codes issues in the wake of the fatal Jay Street fire that killed four in 2015.

The Wedgeway Professional Building has a long record of violations under both current and previous ownership that officials have acknowledged have drawn parallels to the 2015 inferno, including electrical and fire safety issues.

The city temporarily ordered residents out earlier this fall for electrical hazards and non-functioning smoke detectors. 

A 2017 inspection declared several apartment units unsafe because they were unheated. 

Tickets were also issued for lack of emergency exit lighting in a hallway and hazardous electrical wiring.

The city also issued over a dozen violations last winter for numerous deficiencies, including deteriorating walls and ceilings throughout the building, leaking basement pipes, improper gas lines and bricks missing mortar. 

Lunn was hired after the fire and said state-mandated reforms, including those designed to the inspection of multi-unit apartment buildings and improve coordination between city departments, are ongoing and on-track. 

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