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Possible demolition for Greek Revival building on Utica's Varick Street

That familiar, white, Greek Revival building on Utica's Varick Street was home to various families from 1840-1959.

Posted: Mar 16, 2018 5:40 PM
Updated: Mar 16, 2018 5:47 PM

That familiar, white, Greek Revival building on Utica's Varick Street was home to various families from 1840-1959. Later, it joined the Varick Street club scene, as Hollyrock and Blu. Next up for the more than 178-year-old building: possible demolition.

Steve Mancuso bought the building in January.

"I wanted to do a bar modeled after like a hard rock cafe with the records on the walls and guitars and basically be like a music venue," said Mancuso. But while removing some iron fencing from the exterior....a mishap.

"Snapped, busted the chain and broke through the wall of the building. It wasn't actually bad going in, but when you pull it out if you don't know the right way to do it, it caused more damage pulling it out than actually going through it."

The result-a gaping hole in the side of the building. An engineer came to survey the damage.

"Then he inspected the rest of the property and saw the beam that was buckling from the water damage of years and years," said Mancuso. "The insurance company wanted to see what the damage was so they sent their own independent structural engineer and he deemed it unsafe."

The city of Utica condemned the building and Mancuso wants to demolish the unsafe structure and start over, with a new building. But because the building is in the city's scenic and historic district, the Scenic and Historic Preservation Commission must sign of on its demolition.

"Because you fail to maintain a building, whether it's this owner or previous owner or whatever, if you don't maintain a building and it starts to fall apart, that's not grounds for demolition," said Commission Chair, Robert Heins, an architect by trade. "That's not a basis that our board can give approval."

Heins says the Commission's goal is to preserve history while promoting growth in the city.

"The building itself is contributory to the scenic nature of the street and but we'll look at it with an open mind. We are dedicated to seeing Utica grow," said Heins.

Mancuso goes before the Commission Monday afternoon. Whether or not they decide on the demolition Monday depends, in part, on what Mancuso presents in his request.

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