Syracuse businessman warns city of imminent building collapse

500 East Water Street

The owner of Smith Restaurant Supply in Syracuse is calling upon City Hall to take immediate action to secure a building that he says is about to collapse.

John Kuppermann tells CNY Central's Jim Kenyon that he has sent emails to city officials, including Mayor Stephanie Miner, warning of the danger at 500 East Water Street.

Kuppermann, whose business is located across the street, says the abandoned two story brick building dates back to the 1800's and was last used as a warehouse.

Kuppermann says last winter the ceiling and a wall caved in, and lately bricks have been falling onto the sidewalk at the intersection of South Townsend and East Water Street.

Two weeks ago, Kuppermann says firefighters were called to the scene after high winds blew sections of roofing material onto the street below.

He showed Kenyon several areas where the exterior walls appear to be buckling. "It's not â??ifâ?? - it's a matter of â??whenâ??" the building will completely collapse, Kuppermann said.

Kuppermann says the homeless will often break into the building to seek shelter despite what he sees as an imminent danger.

He says it's his understanding that the out-of-town owner is prohibited from demolishing the structure because it was declared "historically significant" by the Neighborhood Preservation Board several years ago.

Syracuse Code Enforcement Director Corey Driscoll says the building has been "on the radar" for quite some time. "We know it is deteriorating, we know there are some structural issues." Driscoll says in response to Kuppermann's complaint, "we'll be taking another look at it to address his concerns in terms of whether or not it's an immediate public health and safety issue. Past inspections that we've done found it hasn't really come to that level." Driscoll says her own inspectors and the Fire Prevention Bureau will examine the building.

According to tax records, the building is owned by Republic Holding LLC which is located in Brooklyn, New York. The company could not be reached for comment. Driscoll says the owners owe $20,000 in back taxes.

She says if the city needs to demolish the building, it would cost about $100,000. Driscoll says that money would come out of a $500,000 fund, much of which has already been spent on other demolitions.