Loading...
20200809 Simpson Request for Demolition NOD C springs.org-www.saratoga 3550 x.2517-587-Tel: 518 Saratoga Springs, New York 12866 474 Broadway -City Hall  OMMISSION C EVIEW R ESIGN D PRINGS S ARATOGA S ITY OF Tamie Ehinger, Chair Leslie Mechem, Vice Chair Chris Bennett Leslie DiCarlo Rob DuBoff Ellen Sheehan Sean Smith Steven Rowland, Alternate Chuck Caputo, Alternate N OTICE OF D ECISION In the matter of the application #20200809 Simpson Two-Family Demolition 65 Phila Street Saratoga Springs, New York 12866 involving Historic Review of the demolition of a vacant structure with historic significance within the Urban Residential-4 district, tax parcel #165.68-1-21, within the City of Saratoga Springs. In accordance with the objectives, standards and guidelines contained in the City Zoning Ordinance Article 240-7.4 Historic Review and information provided by the applicant, the Design Review Commission finds the following: Background: The application came before the DRC on December 9, 2020 to determine architectural and/or historical significance, the first step in the review of a proposed demolition in the Historic District. The property is a contributing building to the East Side Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After careful analysis and much discussion, the Design Review Commission unanimously found that the property and structure had architectural and historical significance. For proposed demolition, structures deemed to have architectural or historical significance by the Design Review Commission, the applicant must demonstrate “good cause” as to why such structure cannot be preserved in accordance with Section 7.4.11 of the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Saratoga Springs. The Board carefully reviewed the Application materials and information in accordance with each of the applicable criteria as follows: 7.4.11.B (1) Documentation of “good faith” efforts in seeking an alternative that would result in preservation: - The Board finds that the applicant did not demonstrate “good faith” efforts to preserve the structure. It has been noted by the Preservation Foundation that during the one meeting that was held in the past thirteen years, information and assistance was offered in obtaining tax credits that could have offset the costs of preservation by up to 40%. There was no evidence submitted that the Applicant made any efforts to pursue these tax credits in furtherance of preservation. The applicant has not consulted with Design Review Commission to discuss interest or efforts to preserve the structure. - An application that called for the subdivision of 65 and 69 Phila Street was previously made to the Land Use Boards that proposed renovating the existing structures at 65 and 69 Phila Street and constructing a new structure at the proposed 67 Phila Street. The application was not approved. The Board finds the development of the parcels into substandard lots inappropriate and unnecessary for the preservation of the existing structure at 65 Phila Street. - The Board also notes that no information was submitted as it pertains to the possible relocation of the structure in an attempt to preserve it. - The Board finds that the applicant has NOT met this criterion for demolition. 7.4.11.B (2) Documentation of efforts to find a purchaser interested in preserving the structure: - While the Board notes the extensive history of the property being listed for sale, the Board finds inconsistencies with information surrounding potential sale of the property. The listing has been compared to other properties in various ranges of distress, all of which were habitable at the time of sale. The Board finds that until recently, the property has had a purchase price disproportionately above the presented comparables. As per the applicant, structures that are “cosmetically distressed on the exterior and the interior with a larger square footage are listed at half the price \[of those that are cosmetically distressed on the exterior\] at $250,000”. - The applicant noted that the structure was uninhabitable when it was purchased. The Board finds that this indicates that the owner was aware of its condition when they purchased the property and should have been aware of the impacts of purchasing property within the City’s Historic Review District. The intent of the District is to “prevent the demolition or destruction of significant structures.” The 1990 Zoning Ordinance in effect at the time of purchase also emphasized “the protection, enhancement and perpetuation of landmarks and historic districts”, further indicating the City’s desire to preserve structures in its Historic Districts. - The Board finds that the applicant has NOT met this criterion for demolition. 7.4.11.B (3) Structure cannot be adapted for other use which would result in a reasonable return: - The Board acknowledges that many of the alternate permitted commercial uses in the UR-4 District would not be an appropriate alternative use of the structure due to limited parking and difficulties in meeting current code and ADA requirements. - The Board acknowledges that the applicant is not required to submit an application to the Land Use Boards to demonstrate this criterion. - However, no information has been provided to the Board as to why the structure could not be preserved as a two-family residence or modified into a single-family residence. Additionally, there is a substantial possibility that a three-family residence would be favorably considered by the Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board based on historic approvals for variances in association with a three-family dwelling for the adjacent property at 69 Phila Street. The Applicant has neither demonstrated that a three family residence would not have yielded a reasonable return nor shown any reason that this or similar relief has more recently been sought from the ZBA and denied. - The Board finds that the applicant has NOT met this criterion for demolition. 7.4.11.B (4) Evidence that the property is not capable of earning a reasonable return: - The Board does not find the restoration costs submitted as an appropriate evaluation of actual costs to preserve the structure. The Board has received no documentation or drawings identifying the scope of work necessary Page 2 of 4 for restoration. The Board finds many of the inclusions in the estimates to be unnecessary expenses that are not a true analysis of the cost to restore the structure. Additionally, the Board finds that there is no evidence that this cost analysis was completed by a reputable contractor or individual qualified to make practical estimates associated with the construction. - A July 7, 2017 Emergency Building Stability Assessment completed by Chazen Companies indicated at that time that the “cost of work required to stabilize, reinforce and repair the primary structural systems, and the work required to make the house secure, sanitary and safe is below the salvage value of the building.” It goes on to state that the recommended repairs begin “as soon as practicable.” Based on the information provided, the Board finds that minimal work has been done since that time to complete any of the recommended repairs, thus allowing for further deterioration. - The Board finds lack of information regarding historic attempts at preservation over the course of the 19-year ownership indicative of the desire to allow the buildings to deteriorate. The applicant has not submitted credible evidence of inability to realize reasonable return through sale. - The Board finds that the applicant has NOT met this criterion for demolition. 7.4.11.B (5) Plans for development of the site following demolition: - Development plans for a single-family residence were submitted as part of the application for demolition. It appears to be in keeping with the spirit of the Historic District and might be considered an acceptable plan to meet this criterion. However, it is noted that any proposal to construct or alter what currently exists on this site would require the full review and approval by the Board to ensure architectural compatibility with the aesthetic and historic qualities of the neighboring structures. - The Board finds that the applicant HAS met this criterion for demolition. 7.4.11.B (6) Public Hearing requirements: - A Notice of Public Hearing was published in The Gazette on February 22, 2021. A public hearing on the review of the demolition as required under Section 7.4.11.B.6 of the Zoning Ordinance was held on March 3, 2021 through March 24, 2021 and the formal comment period ended on March 24, 2021. - The applicant submitted proof of mailings to meet the property owner notification requirement. - The Board finds that the applicant HAS met this criterion for demolition. Based on everything before the Board, the Board finds that the owners have neglected basic maintenance on the property that would prevent the structure from falling into a state of further disrepair. It appears the property has been permitted to fall into a serious state of disrepair so as to result in the deterioration of any exterior architectural feature. In the judgement of the Board, this produces a detrimental effect upon the character of the Historic District as a whole and the life and character of the property itself. In an engineering report completed by Maxim Engineering dated December 3, 2003, it was noted that 65 Phila Street, “While having the usual deficiencies of being vacant and exposed to the weather, I found the main house to be structurally sound” and “the main house and front porch could and should be salvaged and renovated.” Furthermore, the 2017 Chazen report completed almost 14 years later noted the minimum recommendations to stabilize the structure and make it weather tight. These included making repairs to the leaking roof, stabilizing the first floor framing, and investigating the southeast corner wall assembly to ensure structural framing is continuous and sound. These repairs would have required building permits through the City Building Department, none of which have been applied for or permitted to date. Page 3 of 4 The application appeared before the Board on March 3, 2021 to review the request for demolition. Following a presentation of materials to the Board, the applicant was asked by the Board, and in fact, the applicant offered to provide additional documentation. A firm deadline of 12:00 pm on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 was set by the Board in which all supplemental information was to be submitted in order for the Board to complete a thorough review. No information was received prior to the deadline. Four items of information were submitted after the deadline and were therefore not accepted into or included in the public record as part of this decision. This application is denied on the basis of failure to meet all of the criteria set forth under Section 7.4.11 of the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Saratoga Springs. Therefore, based on the fact that the evaluation criteria have not been met, the Design Review Commission cannot approve the application for demolition of 65 Phila St. SEQRA review is not being conducted because of its failure to meet the independent applicable evaluation criteria separate and apart from the State Environmental Quality Review Act. The applicant did not invoke Section 7.4.11.C of the Zoning Ordinance, and no formal referral to the Building Inspector was required. As such, in consideration of all the information associated with this application, the Design Review Commission hereby issues the following decision on March 24, 2021:  Move to Deny the application for demolition Record of vote: motion to deny made by Tamie Ehinger, seconded by Leslie DiCarlo : Passed 6-0 In favor: T. Ehinger, L. DiCarlo, C. Bennett, L. Mechem, E. Sheehan, S. Smith Recused: R. DuBoff As a result of this decision, the applicant:  May not proceed with the demolition of part or all of the existing structure March 30, 2021 Chair Received by Accounts cc: Building Department File Accounts Dept. Applicant/Agent Page 4 of 4