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20200809 Simpson Demolition Correspondance 199 Woodlawn Avenue Saratoga Springs, New York 12866 December 8, 2020 Tamie Ehinger, Chair ILE11177 Design Review Commission City of Saratoga Springs 474 Broadway Saratoga Springs, New York 12866 DEC 082020 RE: Simpson Requests for Demolition of 65 and 69 Phila Street By-.m. Dear Ms. Ehinger, It should come as no surprise that Helen and Case Simpson are now requesting permission to demolish buildings at 65 and 69 Phila Street, for this is consistent with the manner in which they have treated many properties in our city—that is, with utter disregard for the city's laws, regulations and architectural history, not to mention lack of consideration and respect for their neighbors. These two ca. 1851 Italianate properties were placed on the National Register of Historic Places almost forty years ago along with some thirty other structures in what is often referred to as the Hillside Area because of the dramatic rise of its topography. To quote from the city's "Guidelines for the Preservation of the Saratoga Springs Historic District" the "predominant architectural styles represented in the area are Greek Revival, Italianate, Second Empire and Queen Anne. The area displays a remarkable degree of integrity and cohesiveness . . . Equally important is the maintenance and preservation of the porches, which are both a prominent design element and social characteristic of the area." Simpson ownership of the properties dates back eighteen years for 65 Phila Street and twenty- five for 69 Phila Street. As recent court records document, during the intervening years of their ownership, the Simpson's have consciously allowed the buildings to fall further and further into disrepair, despite requirements that they adhere to the NYS Property Maintenance Code. The properties are in violation of multiple sections of the code, with the Simpsons apparently intent on following a course of demolition by neglect. These properties have been on the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation's "Ten to Save" endangered property list since 1998. A few years ago the city (Chazen study in 2016) and the Preservation Foundation (Old Structures Engineering study in 2017) independently hired consultants to conduct structural assessments of the buildings. Both reports determined that the buildings can be restored and once again contribute to the Hillside neighborhood's 19th century character and appeal. Efforts by several individuals to negotiate reasonable, market-based purchase prices have all been unsuccessful. Speaking from personal experience, having rehabilitated two National Register properties in this city as single-family residences—one a former boarding house,the other a former carriage house and warehouse—I know the satisfaction and rewards of restoring old buildings as well as the challenges. The Phila Street buildings are almost 170 years old and an integral part of the fabric and history of the Hillside neighborhood. They deserve far better than what the Simpsons have given them. The request to demolish them ignores their architectural and historic significance and is based solely on negligent ownership. It is without merit. I urge the city to rigorously enforce all pertinent codes and regulations to ensure that these two buildings are protected and preserved. Sincerely, James P. Gold cc. B.Birge, Administrator of Planning and Economic Development S.Bosshart, Executive Director, Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation