Saratoga reaches deal on failing hotel wing

Back of Rip Van Dam must be stabilized, then torn down later this year

Section: Capital Region,  Page: D1

Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2007

SARATOGA SPRINGS - The city and the owner of the Rip Van Dam Hotel have reached a deal to stabilize its collapsing rear wing for the summer and then demolish it later this year.

The agreement, authorized by the City Council at a special meeting on Monday, requires developer Bruce Levinsky to make the back of the 117-year- old hotel safe until at least Oct. 1. Under the terms of the contract, Levinsky can then knock down the rear brick section of the hotel without permission from the Design Review Commission if he does it within 90 days of Oct. 1, Mayor Valerie Keehn said. Levinsky also will pay the city $20,000 for engineering work and other expenses, Keehn said. He will drop all litigation against the city related to the case, and the city will waive all fees imposed against him, Keehn said.

"We're happy to have a resolution," she said minutes after the council's unanimous vote.

Levinsky had been locked in a dispute with the city for almost two years over the hotel's deteriorating back end. He had said the wing couldn't be stabilized, and was unable to meet a June 1 deadline set by the Design Review Commission to demolish the Rip's rear wing.

Last summer, several bricks fell from the Rip into the adjoining Adelphi's courtyard. City officials wanted to avoid a repeat of that and started negotiating with Levinsky last week about the hotel's condition.

Levinsky said Monday that he has retained a contractor supplied by the city to immediately try to right the listing hotel wing.

"We've expressed significant reservations about this approach," Levinsky said. But the terms of the new agreement with the city are far more reasonable than past ones, Levinsky said.

He said he'll start tearing down the structure on Oct. 1 or Oct. 2, and it would take four to six weeks. He plans to build an 8-foot high wall between the Adelphi and the Rip from the bricks salvaged from the demolition.

The demolition would leave about a half-acre of property, which will be used initially for additional parking, Levinsky said. His ultimate goal for the site is a commercial/residential mixed project, he said.

Dennis Yusko can be reached at 581-8438 or by e-mail at