Appeals Court Decision Allows Demolition of Loos Building

Renovating the Building, at 836 Buternut St,
is not cost effective, owner says

August 11, 2001

Brian Mannion, Contributing writer

The owner of a historic building on Syracuse's North Side has permission to demolish it, after months of legal battles to preserve the structure.

The Loos Building, built in 1895 at Butternut and Park streets, was designed by local architect Archimedes Russell. The building's owner, Tino Marcoccia, has been in a long-running dispute with the Preservation Association of Central New York over whether he can tear it down and redevelop the property. Last month, the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court in Rochester upheld a local judge's decision in favor of Marcoccia, saying the city's historic-designation statute allows the demolition of a historic site. With the appeals court decision, Marcoccia can go ahead with the demolition, said his lawyer, Robert Tisdell.

Ryan Janowski, Marcoccia's son-in-law, is handling the lease of the building for Pyramid Brokerage Co.

"(Marcoccia) is looking to redevelop it. That building needs to be torn down," Janowski said.

Marcoccia said it's not economically feasible to renovate the fire-damaged building at 836 Butternut St., the former location of Kacey's and Kress drugstores. The first floor of the brick building has been vacant since 1996; the top two floors, which contained apartments, have been vacant since the 1960s.

Marcoccia said he wants to bring in a company that will serve the community but said he has no definite plans for the property.

"We could have had it all done if it weren't for the Preservation Association," he said.

The association says it has few options left for saving the building.

"We're concerned that (the ruling) gives carte blanche to people who look at property as a clean slate and don't consider the importance of historic resources," association board member Joanne Arany said.

In 1999, the Common Council designated the building as a protected historic site under the city's historic-preservation ordinance. Marcoccia bought the building after the designation and then sought a demolition permit, saying that renovating it would be an economic hardship. The city Planning Commission granted permission for the demolition in March 2000.

The preservation group went to court to challenge the city's decision, saying Marcoccia knew that the property was designated as a protected site before he bought it. Last year, state Supreme Court Justice James McCarthy decided in favor of Marcoccia, the decision that was upheld on appeal in Rochester.

Association President J.A. Evangelisti said there were not many services available to encourage private owners to renovate historic properties. Bringing a building into compliance with current city codes is difficult and "prohibitively expensive," Evangelisti said.

One of the association's goals is to simplify the city's property codes and provide better incentives for property owners who want to redevelop a historic site.

"The current solutions (for code compliance) are very expensive. We do not want to sacrifice public safety by simplifying the codes, but we do want to open the door for more creative ways to meet those codes' requirements," Arany said.

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