Friday, October 29, 2004

Wellington Hotel - Should I Stay or Should I Go?

So the city wants Sebba Rockaway, owner of the Wellington Hotel, to fix the building that has 17 outstanding code violations. Sebba wants to "fix" the building by tearing it down. Won't State Street be lovely with a large vacant lot on it? Right in front of the Capital building, too? Of course the owner of the building won't be bother because he lives in England and will never see the vacant lot. So in a court ruling the judge gave the city and Sebba a week to negotiate a solution. The Mayor says he wants to save "as least some part of the hotel". In the past he has said the building would be demolished (August 21st, Daily Gazette). The mayor doesn't sound very motivated to keep the Wellington. What possible interest could he have in getting it removed? Well its a "a site that is now being considered for a proposed convention center and hotel complex" as you can read about here. And the city seems to want to tear it down. But did they turn to structural engineers for the buildings assessement? First the fire chief: "I'm not sure it will sustain additional snow loads." The fire chief is good at finding code violations but let us be clear. He isn't a structural engineer. And code violations don't mean the building is going to fall down. So, in addition to the fire chief, who has weighed in on the matter? The city's Assistant Attorney, Terrence Gorman stating that the work done to secure the building in the past month was not actually securing the building, "The work was a Band-Aid approach to immediate danger". If you have your lawyer making structural assessments of buildings, something is wrong. How come the city doesn't hire an experienced engineer to make these assessments?