Updated: August 09, 2019 04:23 AM
Created: August 08, 2019 07:48 PM
Convenient, clean and free on nights and weekends.
The Uncle Sam Parking Garage in downtown Troy has been a mainstay in the Collar City for decades. Especially for the thousands who flock there every Saturday to enjoy the Troy Waterfront Farmer's Market. But how safe is it to park in the garage right now?
13 Investigates has been working to get answers for people who park there. Last April, there was an appeals court victory for CDTA making headway for a new transit center on part of the Uncle Sam Garage property. The case is still working its way through the courts. Since June, 13 Investigates has been working to find out more about concerns a viewer brought to the attention of NewsChannel 13. That viewer concerned for the safety of the large crowds attracted to the farmers market every weekend and all the others who are permitted to park there during the week including hundreds of state employees.
13 Investigates paid its first visit to the garage on June 22, 2019. Once there, our team found barely any empty parking spots inside the facility.
Doris Cappabianca of Clifton Park loves the Farmers Market. She remembers the garage from its inception decades earlier, and says she appreciates the convenience. “I really like the free parking. Another patron of the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market stated, “it’s a very convenient place to park on Saturdays"
Cappabianca added, "It is convenient, it is falling apart." Hundreds of parking spots just a hop, skip and a jump away from the sights - sounds and smells of the farmer's market.
Chris McQuade of Troy told 13 Investigates, "It is decaying that I’ve noticed and in that respect it needs to be better maintained."
13 Investigates began documenting dozens of photos and video of conditions seen inside the Uncle Sam Parking Garage throughout June, July and into the first week of August.
Visible was crumbling concrete, dangling wires, and a massive hole covered by a piece of wood.
Cappabianca added, "It could be cleaned up, it could use an up keep. They could get rid of some of the cracks in the walls."
13 Investigates was presented with an anonymous picture taken inside the facility several weeks earlier. The red cone can be seen covering a hole in the concrete of one of the parking garage floors. The photo appears to show the efforts to cover it, so the safety of patrons was not at risk.
Cappabianca added, "I'm sure Troy does have the money to fix it up and clean it up a bit."
But Troy sold the garage to David Bryce in November of 2010 according to the city assessor's office. Bryce declined to speak on camera with 13 Investigates but says they have several structural reports that show it's in good standing. Bryce also confirmed a pot hole recently broke the slab and they installed a 3-quarter inch steel plate temporarily until new concrete and rebar could be added.
David Bryce also shared the executive summary only of what he described as the most recent inspection report of the Uncle Sam Parking Garage performed by Humen Hayes Associates LLC of Albany in the last two years. The summary read “In general, the condition of this garage is what i would expect for a garage of this age that is located in the northeast. level 4 of the garage is in very good condition while level 2 and level 3 of the garage are in fair condition. As expected, most of the level 2 and level 3 damage is concentrated at or near the floor drains and expansion joints where water and chlorides from de-icing salts accumulate."
Chris McQuade noticed when 13 Investigates spoke with him at the facility adding, “We've got bricks coming down from the exterior. I'm sure its cracks from settling."
13 Investigates also uncovered a meeting the NYS Office of General Services had with Bryce Properties Vice President Denton Bryce in mid-June. A follow up email was obtained by 13 Investigates from Denton Bryce and provided to WNYT from OGS.
June 20 notice to tenants from Bryce Properties:
As I’m sure most of you are aware, some minor damage has recently occurred in the Uncle Sam Parking Garage. Our team has since reinforced the area with a steel plate and a licensed architect is confident that the area is safe for traffic. In addition to the steel plate in the affected area, we have added two additional plates in the same section and plan to add two further plates today (Thursday).
We have had structural assessments done recently enough that any sign of this incident being a risk would have been noted. The assessment states that the garage is in good, sound condition.
We have contacted an outside specialist contractor to make permanent repairs to the affected section of the garage. He has been to the site to assess the area and considers the job to be routine.
I met with two NYS OGS staff members to assess the area and the situation on Tuesday, who suggested they would be more comfortable with state employees avoiding the affected area when possible. In order to accommodate this, we would ask that all state employees try to find parking on either level 1 or level 2 of the garage until permanent repairs are completed.
Thank you for your patience and understanding,
In late June, owner David Bryce "We have big plans to redevelop the site and until that time, we want to make sure it is safe."
In late June, we reached out to the city of Troy as well. 13 Investigates heard back from John Salka from the city August 7, 2019. Here is his statement:
“Pursuant to recent changes to NYS building code law, owners and operators of parking garages are responsible for providing condition assessment reports to the state every three years. In December 2018, the city notified the owner of the Uncle Sam Parking Garage of required inspections. The owner must complete this inspection before October 1, 2019. Once complete, the city will work with the property owner to develop a scope of work and timeline to address any items identified to bring the property up to NYS Building Code.”
Deputy Director of Public Information for the City of Troy
Shortly before this 13 Investigates Report aired, we reached David Bryce by phone. Bryce said he is talking about plans to take the garage down and that he would like to re-develop the site to the benefit of all the people of Troy. Bryce added, they are moving forward on that, whatever any court decision is, being clear to state 150 professionals park in the garage, feeling pretty good about themselves. Bryce also confirms the space at the Atrium currently occupied by the NYS Department of Labor has been rented, after a mutual decision with the NYS Office of General Services that other tenants can contribute to Troy's forward momentum.
In response, OGS told 13 Investigates late Thursday afternoon, that “Mr. Bryce does not speak for the state. And the statement they sent July 31 remains accurate. That statement from OGS last month: “The DOL lease at the atrium expires in July 2020 and we are evaluating options for staff currently at that location,” an OGS Spokesman emailed at the time. Today OGS reiterated that it was not appropriate to discuss lease negotiations while they are in progress.
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