Flaking stucco leads to lawsuit over Schenectady County social services building
SCHENECTADY Stucco began flaking from the exterior of the recently renovated Schenectady County Department of Social Services building in December 2011 and hasn’t stopped since.
The former Lamicoid Building is now riddled with pockmarks from the crumbling stucco, and 797 Broadway Group — a limited liability corporation owned by the Galesi Group — is suing the contractors that overhauled the structure in 2008.
The 11-page civil lawsuit against Schenectady architectural firm Stracher-Roth-Gilmore and naming BCI Construction of Albany alleges the crumbling stucco on the building is now posing a hazard that could compromise the structural integrity of the building’s walls.
“The stucco separation has to date continued and in fact worsened, with cracking and delamination occurring over the building’s vertical exterior surfaces,” states the lawsuit filed in Supreme Court in Schenectady County last month. “The aforementioned situation not only creates an ever-expanding visual eyesore for the public, but also compromises the thermal and moisture barriers and very structural integrity of the building exterior and walls.”
The falling stucco and resulting shabby appearance of the building has been a source of ire among county officials, who are now in their third year of leasing the building from Galesi. Orange snow fences and scaffolding now surround the structure to prevent the crumbling stucco from posing a hazard to pedestrians and people using the building.
The lawsuit asking the court for yet-to-be determined damages alleges Stracher-Roth-Gilmore breached its “implied warranty” and was negligent in dealing with 797 Broadway.
The filing also accuses the architectural firm of “negligent misrepresentation,” according to court documents.
A representative from Stracher-Roth-Gilmore could not be reached. Likewise, BCI officials did not return a call Wednesday.
An attorney representing 797 Broadway did not return a call Wednesday, while David Buicko, Galesi’s chief operating officer, declined comment.
The Micanite Works and adjacent Lamicoid Building were landmarks from Schenectady’s industrial past. For years, the formidable three-story factory on Broadway served as a research and development center, helping the Mica Insulator Co. secure nearly two dozen patents.
The Micanite plant churned out insulators that were widely used around the world and once boasted it was among only two large enough to be a global supplier. The company built a similar, second structure adjacent to the factory in 1945 that became known as the Lamicoid Building.
The company fell into difficult financial straits in the late 1950s, and Micanite Works eventually closed down in 1975. Both buildings were sold to Schenectady International, which used some of the space until leaving them altogether in 2000.
The buildings were added to both state and national historic registers in January 2012. Both are representative of daylight factory architecture and symbolize the triumphs of Schenectady’s industrial past, according to the listing.
The lawsuit states 797 Broadway paid $4.39 million to BCI to rehabilitate the 45,000-square-foot Lamicoid Building. Schenectady County is paying roughly $16 million to lease the structure for 20 years, with an option to buy it after 10 years.
Meanwhile, efforts to renovate the 93,000-square-foot Micanite Works building are continuing, Buicko said. The company is awaiting a tenant before beginning work.
The effort to restore the stucco facade will likely begin sometime during the spring. Buicko said the damaged exterior of the structure will be fixed one way or another.
“Either way, the building will be fixed the right way,” he said.