HSBC Building, a cause for safety concerns


UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Local leaders toured the former HSBC building and discussed their findings at Utica's City Hall Tuesday night.

The building may be structurally sound, but it's condition inside brings up a number of safety issues. The HSBC building is privately owned. However, the city is anticipating they may soon be the new owners of the property. Urban and Economic Development Commissioner Randy Soggs says there's no insurance on the building, and the damage done to the building is beyond what the property was purchased for $250,000.

The interior of the building has been looted. The damage has caused broken pipes, and that has led to water leaking into the building. Now there is a mold problem. In addition, the roof and ceiling are also in need of repair. This week the owner of the building, Ronald Prince, was served with a notice from the Utica Codes Department about the necessary repairs. Heavy fines will follow if the building doesn't see attention.

While some want to see the structure demolished, other residents spoke out at city hall, saying they are opposed to taking down a historic building. They say doing so would leave a hole in downtown Utica.

Prince has 30 days before the HSBC building will be re-inspected. Meanwhile, if Prince fails to pay taxes on the building it will likely fall into the cities hands.

"What Mr. Prince told me, was he had hired a contractor to remove an old HVAC system, and to replace it with a new one. Instead of doing that they removed all the metal from the building," said Soggs. When asked why Prince didn't know about the ongoing looting Soggs replied, " he lives in Los Angeles." Councilman James Zecca says he wants the D.A. to investigate potential criminal charges in the case.

There is legislation in front of the Utica Common Council right now to call for a moratorium on the demolition of commercial buildings, until the Master Plan is passed. The Master Plan was also discussed Tuesday, and it looks like it will be several weeks if not months before a final Master Plan is in place.

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