Tear it Down or Fix it Up? Hotel Oneida deemed a "public nuisance"

The former Hotel Oneida was built in two phases. The original brick building opened in 1927, with the blue paneled structure added in the 1970s. (Brett Hall/CNYCentral.)

For the majority of its 90-year history, Hotel Oneida was the place to stay, dine and hold special celebrations, however Oneida's Common Council recently moved to deem the structure a "public nuisance" after years of neglect.

The Hotel Oneida originally opened on May 1, 1927 on the corner of Main St. and Lenox Ave., according to the Maddison County Historical Society. A four-story brick building can be seen in post cards dating back to 1947.

In 1970, Maddison County property tax records indicate an addition was built resulting in 21,472 square ft of space.

Sullivan Contractors Inc., based in Sauquoit, NY, has owned the building since it was purchased in 2010 for $25,000. The property's latest assessment carries a $210,000 value.

Water has been shut off to the building since 2008 and since then dozens of letters have been sent to property owners about the building's appearance, according to the city.

Peeling siding scrapes against the metal frame that used to support a fabric canopy, multiple windows are broken and rust can be seen around the structure. Along Lenox Ave., a steel support beam can be touched from the sidewalk, after stone walls gave way.

"We're going after it," said Jim Chamberlain, D-Deputy Mayor for the City of Oneida, "It was declared a public nuisance last meeting. Now the fire marshall will compose a list of any violations that he feels necessary. We will start there."

The "public nuisance" designation allows the city to fine the property owner for non-compliance and, down the road, could allow the city itself to work on the property.

"We've never done that before," said Chamberlain, "I've never heard of that so that's how far we are carrying it forward to really nip it in the bud."

The City of Oneida's Fire Marshall named the building an "unsafe structure" in March 2017, after the land owner didn't respond to code violation notices. In the same month, a judge signed off on a search warrant allowing for an inspection of the building from the inside.

While a complete inspection found the building in stable condition, the relationship between the property owner and city continues to deteriorate.

"We don't want it to escalate," said Chamberlain. "We just hope [Sullivan Contracting] contacts us. We want to work with them."

Nobody was available from Sullivan Contracting to speak with about the hotel after a visit to their office and four phone calls were not returned.

While the deputy mayor would like to see the hotel returned to its former glory, much like Hotel Syracuse did last year, not everyone is on board.

"It's an eyesore, it really is an eyesore," said Bob Alexander, a longtime resident of Oneida and local business owner. "I wouldn't mind seeing it torn down, and put a parking garage there."

If you have an idea for a building to be featured on Tear it Down or Fix it Up?, contact information can be found here.

Previously CBS5 asked the question of Van Buren's Quaker Steak & Lube, Oswego's 1850 House and Mattydale's Cinema North, and even saw action.

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