Razing of historic Saratoga Springs building delayed
Preservation group challenges approval by city commission
SARATOGA SPRINGS Even though the Saratoga Springs Design Review Commission approved the demolition of a historic house at 66 Franklin St. this week, the circa-1871 building won’t be coming down this year.
Joseph Boff, the owner of the house that is a contributing structure to the Franklin Square-West Side Historic District, maintains the deteriorating building is beyond saving. He and his lawyers have spent the past three years seeking permission to tear it down.
The city Design Review Commission voted 4-0 Monday night to allow Boff to raze the structure, providing he follow certain conditions.
The Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, which has opposed the demolition, obtained a temporary injunction in state Supreme Court last week preventing the demolition until at least mid-January, while the foundation takes the commission to court over its review process.
The Design Review Commission required Boff to prepare an environmental impact statement on the proposed demolition, stating his reasons for demolishing the building, possible alternatives, and the impact that demolition would have.
The commission accepted the final draft of the environmental impact statement in November, but the Preservation Foundation maintains the statement is defective and lacking in required elements.
“We remain mystified as to why the Design Review Commission believes it can simply ignore key requirements of the Historic Review Ordinance,” said Samantha Bosshart, executive director of the foundation. “Most troubling is its failure to require the owner of 66 Franklin to provide a development plan indicating what he intends to build at 66 Franklin after the Winans-Crippen House is demolished.”
“We do not wish to prolong this process. However — because of the precedent-setting nature of this case — we feel we must pursue legal action,” Bosshart said in a statement.
In the impact statement prepared for Boff by attorney Matthew Mazur of Ianniello, Anderson, Sciocchetti and Reilly of Clifton Park, the cost to reconstruct or “replicate” 66 Franklin St. is listed at more than $2 million.
The impact statement also notes that some city officials have said the building is a dilapidated, unsafe structure that could collapse. Architects who inspected the building for the Preservation Foundation have stated the building can be saved and renovated, however.
“The Winans/Crippen House is exactly the kind of structure that the Historic Review Ordinance is designed to save,” Bosshart said. “We are advocating not only to preserve this important historic building, but also to preserve the integrity of the ordinance.”
George Carpinello, attorney for the foundation, said he will challenge the commission’s decision on grounds that the commission did not have Boff provide the required redevelopment plan for the Franklin Street property. He also said Tuesday that one of the four members of the seven-member commission who voted for demolition had an apparent conflict of interest and should not have voted.
Three of the commission members did not vote on the demolition application.
Franklin Square was one of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods at the time local merchant David Winans commissioned architect J.D. Stevens, who designed the United States and Grand Union hotels once located on Broadway, to design the new home he would build in 1871 at 66 Franklin St.