Thursday, 02 May 2013 14:53

Algonquin Set for Major Renovations

By Patricia Older | News

SARATOGA SPRINGS — One of the Spa City’s largest Broadway buildings will be undergoing major renovations this summer, bringing its upper floors to code and rebuilding new apartments. The owners of the Algonquin Building have hired Bonacio Construction to renovate the interior of the historic building—it was built in 1892 and designed by architect S. Gifford Slocum. 

Property Manager Mary Ann Lawrence said the tenants of the 45-unit, six story building were sent notices last week giving them until June 30 to vacate the premises.   

“Ninety-five percent of the leases expired in May and June anyway,” said Lawrence, adding that many of the tenants have already begun complying with the order to move. 

But one resident said he was given very little notice. The tenant, who asked not to be identified, said he had lived in the building for the last 13 years and had not planned on moving anytime soon. 

Noting that he had received notice only “three days” prior, the resident said he had begun to look for an apartment, but very few places in Saratoga offered the same size apartment at a comparable price. 

“I have looked for an apartment in Saratoga, but anything for one person is either very tiny or too expensive,” he said, adding that he had begun to look elsewhere outside of Saratoga County where he would have the same amenities as he had in the Broadway location—walking distance to a grocery store, retail outlets and a bus line. 

Saratoga Springs Code Enforcement Officer Dan Cogan said the owners, the Aronson family, have been trying to upgrade the building since the New Year’s Eve fire in 2005. That fire began in the basement and spread through a pipe chase, a walled-in shaft filled with plumbing and utilities. The fire caused damage to the wiring for the upstairs apartments and many of the residents were displaced at the time from smoke and water damage, as well as the electrical damage. 

Cogan said that the interior architectural design of the building, with an open space that rises the full height of the building, is a fireman’s nightmare. 

“That huge space can be a fire hazard,” said Cogan. “If there was a fire, it could act just like a chimney.” 

He said there have been no code violations for the building and that the owners “have been in touch since they hatched their plan” to renovate the upstairs apartments. 

The commercial space on the ground floor levels will not be affected by the renovations. 

“Since the fire, the owners have spent a lot of money to bring the building up to code,” said Cogan. 

But the tenant said his apartment, with the exception of literally being divided into what is essentially two separate units following the fire, has never had any repairs. He said the interior of the building is in disrepair. 

“They never did one repair to my place,” he said. His rent, he said, was $700 a month for the two bedroom unit. 

Lawrence said that while she did not know many details yet, the rent for the units would be determined by market value. 

While Lawrence said renovations were due to start on August 1, Cogan said that only until every tenant has vacated the building can the builder get in to draw up a full building plan. 

“They will not need any variances for what they are planning to do,” said Cogan, adding that all the work is slated for the interior. “It is what is called Level 1 renovations. But an architectural plan will need to be submitted to the building department.”

Saratoga Springs Principal Planner Kate Maynard said that as of Wednesday, May 1, no plans had been submitted for the proposed renovations. 

The website for the Algonquin Apartments states that the renovations “will provide the necessary upgrades to the building’s residential apartments and utility systems while maintaining and restoring its historical features.” 

The new apartment units are expected to be available for rent as soon as the summer of 2014. 

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