Demolition of a non-descript parking ramp would generally be applauded, but is a surface lot any better? In a preservation district? In a downtown where most development has involved adaptive reuse and not ground-up construction? Can it be saved and is it worth saving? Those are a few of the issues the Preservation Board will likely be considering when it reviews a proposal by Ellicott Development to demolish 40-48 Swan Street, across from Sahlen Field and between ECC’s City Campus and the Ellicott Square Building.
From Ellicott Development’s application to the Preservation Board:
The three-story commercial parking ramp, fronting on Swan Street, was constructed in 1924. Siracuse Engineers PC performed a structural report of the building on October 18, 2019 and recommended that immediate action be taken to demolish the structure in lieu of trying to reinforce and stabilize it. We respectfully request your approval of this application for demolition at your meeting scheduled for Thursday, November 7th.
From Siracuse Engineers:
At your request Siracuse Engineers, PC, has walked thru the existing parking ramp at the above referenced location to observe and assess the condition of the structural members. The following is a list of serious structural deficiencies in the building:
• Spalling concrete from the underside of the existing floor slabs due to extreme rusting and delamination of the slab’s reinforcing. The structural capacity of these slabs is compromised due to this deterioration.
• Severe rusting and delamination of 80-80 percent of the beams on each floor. The structural capacity of these beams has been greatly compromised due to this amount of deterioration.
• Severe rusting and delamination on several columns. Two columns have already failed at the third-floor level due to the amount of deterioration.
• Major vertical cracking was observed in the in the East exterior bearing wall.
After reviewing these conditions, it is our recommendation that action be taken to demolish the structure in lieu of trying to reinforce and stabilize it. The extreme deterioration and compromised strength of the structural framing is a dangerous condition to any occupants, construction workers and the surrounding public.
Demolition would leave just three structures on the block: a firehouse, the Union Pub building on Swan Street, and the building housing Washington Square on Ellicott Street. “Old timers” may remember this block was eyed for a new parking ramp to serve the ballpark back in the day. That plan was scratched after preservationists called foul. The ramp plan was moved to Main and Swan but that was scrapped when property owner Citicomm floated plans for an office tower on the site in a bid to win the HQs of Key Bank, but what many thought was a scheme to increase the price the City would need to pay for the property. It remains a surface lot over three decades later.