Portions of downtown building collapse

Rubble and debris sit behind 16-18 S. Main St. following the collapse of a portion of the rear of the building on Wednesday. (The Leader-Herald/Kerry Minor)

GLOVERSVILLE — Piles of bricks and twisted metal lay strewn about behind 16-18 S. Main St. on Wednesday following a partial cave in of the back of the building.

At around 9:45 a.m., the rear of what was once known as the Littauer Building fell in on itself creating a messy situation. No injuries resulted from the incident, in part because the building has been vacant for a number of years.

The front of the building and the connected sections at 12-14 remained intact following the incident.

In less than 10 minutes, city police were on the scene of the collapse to block off South Main Street from the Four Corners intersection with Fulton Street to Washington Street for both pedestrian and vehicle traffic. The street remains blocked this morning.

Police Chief Marc Porter told The Leader-Herald police were taking necessary precautions and will not reopen that section until they are certain the building will not suffer any more damage or pose a threat to people walking or driving by.

Porter said he was deferring to the city’s building inspectors as to when the street could be reopened.

“We are exercising caution for right now,” Porter said.

Along with city police, building inspectors, members of the fire department, water department and council members Steven Smith and Wrandy Siarkowski were all on the scene within moments of the collapse being reported.

The collapse did take down some wires near the building and bricks fell on the uncollapsed portions of the roof at a neighboring building. The building that collapsed is owned by Two Great Guys Corp. out of Saratoga Springs. The company purchased the property in 2008 for $6,400 according to Fulton County tax records.

Building Inspector Brandon Myers said that section of the building has no floors in the back portion, although some remain near the front. He said they were removed during a renovation process that stopped about four years ago.

He said there has been a plan presented to reintroduce floors and to stabilize the building, but it had not yet been put in place.

Myers said the property owner is due in Gloversville City Court for a conference with a judge Tuesday in an ongoing case relating to the property. He said the owner has been cited for failure to maintain the interior.

The case is being handled for the city by attorney Michael Albanese.

Myers said he has been working on this case since he started in his position 2 1/2 years ago.

Myers said the city will be calling in an engineer retained by Two Great Guys Corp. who is based out of Glenville to come and assess the situation.

“We will get an opinion and then go from there,” Myers said.

David Eager of Two Great Guys Realty had offered the property, which stretches from 12 to 18 S. Main St., to the city as a donation earlier this year.

Members of the Common Council turned down the offer, stating they needed more information about the structural integrity of the building.

The lack of floors in that section was a concern to council members. Smith told the council the least expensive thing that could be done with the property, without affecting the look of downtown, would be to demolish almost all of the property, saving the front face of the building. A parking lot could then be created behind the building.

Smith told the council in January that the cost of restoring the building could run over $1 million.

This isn’t the first time the city has seen a building collapse.

In 1976 three buildings at 9, 11 and 13 South Main St. had to be demolished. On Sept. 5 of that year, 9 and 11 S. Main St. collapsed. The two four-story buildings caved in two days after they had been condemned.

On Sept. 13, 1976, 13 S. Main St. saw the main floor dropped two inches and a water main burst as workers were salvaging furniture and fixtures from the building. It was later demolished.

Kerry Minor can be reached at [email protected]

By Patricia Older

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