Harmanus Bleecker structure fully booked

Section: Capital Region,  Page: C3

Date: Sunday, October 2, 2005

There are still a lot of people in Albany who remember the old Harmanus Bleecker Library at Washington Avenue and Dove Street. It was the city's main library until closing in the 1970s.

"Everybody has a story about their time in the library," said the building's current owner, real estate developer Tim Conley. His firm spent about $2.1 million to renovate the landmark, which reopened in the spring of 2003 as an office building. While the books are long gone, the original walnut bookshelves are still there, although a bit hard to recognize. The shelves have been transformed into enclosures for the elevator, Conley said.

From time to time, some lawyers in the building will run impromptu tours for friends, he not ed.

And for those a bit confused when first walking into the three-story building, there's a reason. The library used to be two stories. Conley added an third-level atrium around the central atrium that expanded the total floor space by 46 percent.

The building was fully occupied within nine months of opening.

"It definitely made sense to revitalize this property. It was a good sound foundation," said Conley, who bought the building for $200,000. "But it's probably not a project that I would run down the street to do again."

Renovating the 1923 structure cost a little more than he had budgeted. "With an older building, there are always some surprises."

- Brian Nearing

Stellamare owners settle

The former owners of the Stellamare have agreed to pay the negli gence claim of a worker severely injured when the ship capsized at the Port of Albany nearly two years ago.

Three Russian crewmen died and a dozen more were thrust overboard into the frigid waters of the Hudson River in the Dec. 9, 2003, accident, which caused $30 million in damage and prompted a Coast Guard investigation.

Rainer Hoelzl, a veteran marine surveyor who works for New Jersey-based EWIG International Marine Corp., fell 20 feet into the river, suffering brain injuries and multiple skull and facial fractures, a shoulder fracture, several broken ribs and a loss of his sense of smell, according to his attorney, Donald Boyajian of Albany.

Hoelzl filed suit last year in U.S. District Court in Albany, claiming Netherlands-based Jumbo Shipping Company S.A., which owned the ship, and shipping agent Kahn Scheepvaart, B.V., failed to inspect the ship or provide a safe workplace.

Hoelzl, a quiet East German man with piercing blue eyes, landed on a chunk of ice, breaking his shoulder, which left him unable to grab a ladder dropped by longshoremen.

He returned to work in 2004, having lost his sense of smell and gained metal plates and screws in his skull, cheek and brow.

The amount of his settlement was kept confidential as part of the deal with Jumbo Shipping, Boyajian said. "Under the circumstances, he's very happy to be alive. He's one of these eternally optimistic people who's grateful for what he has instead of what he doesn't have."

Jumbo Shipping has refused to comment on the lawsuit. A trial had been scheduled for May 16, 2006.

Workers had loaded one 308-ton General Electric Co. generator onto the freighter and were adding a second when the vessel rolled suddenly to port. Those familiar with the case blame human error. The Coast Guard report is pending.

- Kate Gurnett