KENNETH C. CROWE II Staff writer
Section: CAPITAL REGION,  Page: B8

Date: Friday, December 21, 2001

The city condemned the former St. Joseph's Church in Arbor Hill Thursday and started emergency efforts to prevent the historic building from collapsing by reinforcing two support columns. ``It went from a hazardous to a dangerous situation,'' said James Miller, a Public Safety Department spokesman. ``If one of those columns collapsed it could completely destroy the entire structure.''

The city had opinions from six engineering companies, including one retained by Elda Abate, the building owner, that the landmark church is in an unsafe and unfit condition. Abate's engineer, Reeves Engineering, reported the building was in a ``dynamic mode of deterioration.''

One column is bowed several inches, while the other is ``falling completely apart,'' Miller said.

The city hopes to begin erecting scaffolding today.

``There are no plans at all to tear the building down,'' Miller said. Public Safety Commissioner John C. Nielsen signed the condemnation order.

``The city, to its credit, is taking the proper steps due to the significance of the building,'' said James Cohen of the Historic Albany Foundation. ``It's a collective effort between the city, Historic Albany and the professional community to save the building.''

The church has suffered water damage, leading to the weakening of the two columns.

``It is a situation that is acute,'' Cohen said. ``It has to be remedied right away.'

Abate, who planned to turn the landmark on Ten Broeck Triangle into a banquet hall, could not be reached for comment.