CIVIC CENTER DEMOLITION TO GET STARTED 13 BUILDINGS BEING STRIPPED IN DOWNTOWN ALBANY WILL COME DOWN THIS WEEK

Gary Sheffer The Knickerbocker News
Section: MAIN,  Page: 3A

Date: Monday, January 26, 1987

After being stripped of their valuables, 13 buildings standing in the way of the Albany County Civic Center will meet their end this week.


County Executive James J. Coyne said Sunday salvaging metals and other material from the buildings began Saturday and the buildings would be demolished this week. "I expect the heavy machinery will move in in a few days," Coyne said.


Crews were at the buildings Saturday and had set up chutes in windows of several of the buildings so workers could toss salvageable items into dumpsters.


The buildings include 10 19th-century marketplace buildings on Grand Street, which are in a national historic district, and the Abrams Building on South Pearl Street, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


The buildings have become a thorn in the side of civic center backers. The Historic Albany Foundation has made several attempts to save the buildings.


Last week, the federal Urban Mass Transportation Administration warned the county it would jeopardize a $3.3 million grant for a walkway if it demolished the buildings before allowing a federal historic review.


The $4.5 million, enclosed walkway would link the 15,000-seat arena with the Empire State Plaza.


Faced with lengthy delay, the county decided Thursday to proceed with demolition and apply for the federal grant in the hope that a state review of the buildings would suffice for the federal agency.


The state Urban Development Corp. (UDC), which has agreed to provide $6.5 million for the center's construction, said Friday it expected the county to submit to a federal review of the buildings if it intended to seek the federal grant.


Coyne said it was his understanding the state agency had informed the county that as long as it did not apply for the federal grant, it could begin demolition.


He said UDC was required to make sure that the county met all laws - state, federal and local - before it released the funds.


The county still plans to seek the federal funds for the walkway, Coyne said, adding he believed the federal application would not jeopardize the UDC funding.


Coyne said if the county lost the $3.3 million grant, "that sometime down the line we may look at adding the walkway at our own expense."