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20200852 Simpson Request for Demolition-69 Phila St. Public Comment 302 Nelson Ave. Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 (703) 608-0624 March 2, 2021 City of Saratoga Springs Design Review Commission City Hall -474 Broadway Saratoga Springs, New York 12866 By email to: Jennifer.merriman@saratoga-springs.org RE: Subject requests for DRC Meeting on December 9, 2020: - 20200809 Simpson Request for Demolition—65 Phila Street - 20200852 Simpson Request for Demolition—69 Phila Street To the DRC, I write in opposition the above demolition requests. I have reviewed the Historic Review Ordinance's five requirements to approve a demolition request. I would like to address only THREE here: 1. "good faith"efforts in seeking an alternative that will result in the preservation of the structure a. Having reviewed the history of these properties on the City's website and in the records of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, this requirement was never met. There is ample public evidence that"good faith"efforts have never been made by the applicants. The owners of these properties have never engaged with the DRC or SSPF with a focus to preserve the structures. 2. "document efforts to find a purchaser interested in acquiring and preserving the structure" a. Meeting this requirement should be simple for the applicants as it is only a requirement for documentation, but, as you read the next requirement, their efforts in finding a purchaser have never been in good faith. 3. "submit evidence that the property is not capable of earning a reasonable return regardless of whether that return represents the most profitable return possible" a. The current(3/1/2021) MLS listing for 65 Phila states: "Sold AS IS. Comps average SF costs 241.00=482,000. comps 116 High Rock sld 11/2017$400,000, 116 Catherine St. $225,000, 40 Warren St. 250,000, 184 Spring St. 506,000.All comps are tear downs or total rehabs. Owner would like to sell 65 and 69 Phila St together. Package price is 600,000 Commission paid on 65 Phila St. Only."—the applicants' attempts to earn a reasonable return are ridiculous because of the following: i. The comps listed in the applicants' MLS listing were ALL habitable houses at the time of their sale (I have reviewed each listing!). The applicants' negligence over their entire ownership of these houses created houses that became increasingly inhabitable and subsequently more expensive to make them habitable. The applicants created their own "hardship" ... and now they wish to use this self-inflicted hardship as evidence to gain your approval. What they have done is wrong. To use expenses, expenses that they created, to support their own demolition request is wrong ... and they should not benefit by their scheming or their neglect. ii. Assuming that the applicants presents evidence proving that the properties cannot get a reasonable return, expenses incurred because of the applicants' lack of good faith in adhering to their many legal commitments to maintain the houses in a historic district (the basis of the City's legal actions), those costs should be disallowed as they were due to the applicants not acting in good faith to preserve the houses, as required by the ordinance. Any attempt by the applicants to prove hardship of not receiving a reasonable return on these properties by including the following expenses must not be allowed: 1. Home rehabilitation expenses, to make the houses habitable, that were created by the applicants'years of negligence after the properties were purchased. 2. Expenses paid for the Vacant Building Registry. 3. Expenses paid in City and County taxes while the properties were vacant. 4. Legal costs defending the applicants against the City's enforcement actions. 5. Any costs of design and engineering NOT spent on "post-demolition plans" (required for this application) or on plans in created for a DRC application to preserve the houses (which would show the "good faith" required of this ordinance). None of the applicants' investment has ever been done in good faith to preserve the houses within a historic district as required by the ordinance. As an investor, I understand how the many sunk costs in these properties make one want to seek a solution that justify my investment(i.e. provide me with a reasonable return). But most of the expenses to rehabilitate the house were avoidable if they had acted in good faith early in their ownership. The price(s) that the applicants are seeking for these properties is ridiculous for properties that were made uninhabitable by their lack of good faith to preserve them. Both requests should be denied. Given the facts, I request that each member of the DRC: 1. Deny these requests with prejudice. The requests do not meet all the requirements for a demolition request. I would hope that the commission's decision is unanimous. 2. Draft and agree a DRC resolution to present to the City Council requesting that the Council a. enforce actions to bring these properties in alignment with the NYS Property Maintenance Code b. enforce actions to bring these properties in alignment with City of Saratoga Springs Historic Review Ordinance c. levy fines against the property owner to the fullest extent of the law As a member of this community, I pledge to do my part to actively support the DRC and City Council to take the actions specified above. I expect the DRC and the City Council to act. Respectfully submitted, Mitchell E. Cohen