Central Warehouse owner Evan Blum misses key repair deadline

ALBANY — The city will take Central Warehouse owner Evan Blum to Codes Court for the third time after failing to meet the first of several deadlines to make repairs to the derelict building.

In a phone interview Friday, Blum said the city code violations were part of a larger plan by the city and county to steal the building from him. He said he was ready to make the repairs, but added that he didn’t see the point when the county was trying to seize the building.

“What, do I have the word silly written all over me?” he said.

Friday was the first of several deadlines for repairs the city had set for Blum last month. The city demanded that Blum complete the repairs after chunks of concrete fell near the railroad tracks adjacent to the building on July 28, forcing Amtrak to suspend service west of Albany for several days and causing delays and disruptions. disturbances on other lines. A few days earlier, an engineer’s report exposed the imminent threat that the facade of the building’s south wall could collapse onto the train tracks below.

Blum was asked to make all roofs, windows, and doors weathertight; seal exposed concrete along the upper southeast corner of the building; remove all combustible materials and graffiti and register the building as a vacant building.

Rick LaJoy, the city’s director of buildings and regulatory compliance, said Friday that none of the required work has been done and the city has not heard from Blum.

Blum argued that the extent of the work demanded by the city was unreasonable.

“You can’t do this in 30 days, it’s impossible,” he said. “They wanted me to fix the whole building.”

LaJoy previously told the Times Union that given the scope of the work, the city would grant extensions if Blum made progress.

LaJoy said Friday that the city’s company attorney would expedite the paperwork to bring Blum to code court for failing to correct code violations. Last April, the city won a $78,000 judgment against Blum’s company, Phoenix of Albany, and is pursuing a second case.

LaJoy added that the city would contract out the work that hadn’t been done to ensure it was completed. The work includes sealing a 200-foot-long hole in the roof of the building, he said. The city’s tab for the building over the past two months has reached nearly $225,000, LaJoy said.

Blum has deadlines he is expected to meet for further work, including hiring an engineer to assess the structural condition of the building. The city also wants him to install safety nets along the south and east walls of the building to catch debris falling from the facade.

For more than two weeks, city employees and outside contractors removed loose masonry from the building’s facade and anchored it to the south wall inside the building to prevent further collapse. The building, built in 1927, has deteriorated to the point that the parapet vibrates with passing trains.

Mayor Kathy Sheehan said the city will continue to bill Blum for the repairs. If Blum does not pay for these repairs, the city expects to be repaired by the county.

Any lawsuits for unresolved code violations would not affect the county’s plans for the building if it succeeds in gaining control of the property. Blum filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the county, which came after two attempts to declare bankruptcy and a failed lawsuit filed in the Albany County State Supreme Court.

The county began the tax foreclosure process late last spring and indicated at the time that it would open the property to interested bidders. Two bids were received and one of the bidders withdrew, leaving Skyway CW, LLC, a company controlled by Redburn Development and Columbia Development, as the sole bidder.

If the county takes control of the property, it plans to write off more than $550,000 in delinquent property taxes and transfer the property to Skyway CW for $50,000.

The two development companies proposed a large-scale rehabilitation of the building which would include commercial and retail spaces and apartments.