Harmony Acres must come down


By Patsy Nicosia

The fire-damaged Harmony Acres building on Cobleskill’s Main Street is unsafe and a public nuisance and needs to come down.
That’s the determination Village of Cobleskill Codes Enforcement Officer Mike Piccolo made after inspecting the once-grand structure last Wednesday.
Hundreds of volunteers responded to a late-May electrical fire at the large wood-frame building, built in 1820 as the United States Hotel and later, Lambert’s clothing store.
Developer and former mayor Mark Nadeau has since purchased the building from owner Tom Blair and Wednesday, went before a joint meeting of the Planning Board and Historic District Review Commission seeking permission for its demolition.
Mr. Piccolo’s decision that 189 Main Street is “an unsafe building which constitutes a menace to the safety, health, and general welfare of the inhabitants of the village and which is a public nuisance” supersedes any action by the two agencies, which could have placed conditions on the building’s demolition.
Specifically, Mr. Piccolo said he found: Noxious odors from deteriorating materials, compromised structural integrity of the roof and second and first floors, and rapidly-growing mold.
“Over the past three months, the structure has become saturated with water, which has increased the weight load on the remaining bearing beams and supports, overtaxing them,” he wrote in his decision, dated September 8.
“The building grows more unstable each day, and it shall be demolished as soon as possible.”
Mr. Piccolo’s determination meant no action was required by either the Planning Board of HDRC, which will, however, have a say in what Mr. Nadeau eventually puts up at the site.
Mr. Piccolo said Mr. Nadeau has submitted preliminary paperwork for the project and plans to put a multi-purpose commercial building on the site.
Mr. Nadeau said Monday he plans a one-and-a-half-story building with a slightly smaller footprint--about 7,400 square-feet—than what’s there now to allow for some additional parking along Union Street.
As the building is demolished, Mr. Nadeau said, he hopes to recover some of the cut-stone foundation and use it to create a rock wall with an outdoor, lighted pavilion with a natural gas fireplace on the Main Street side of the property.
Mr. Nadeau said he can accommodate from 5-9 tenants and has plans for a locally-run steakhouse in the front half of the building.
He said the building he’s proposed has a “country farmhouse look” with elements of Mission style, faux stone wainscoting, gable peaks, and cupolas.
Approval for any structure, Mr. Piccolo said, is subject to site plan review, which includes public hearings, and action by both the Planning Board and HDRC.
Mr. Nadeau said he is waiting on engineers’ reports regarding asbestos removal before demolition can begin.