Tenants Ordered: Vacate In 30 Days;
Landlords Must Meet Code By April 30
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – The once-elegant Oneonta Hotel at Main and Dietz, in decline for decades, has been declared “unsafe,” Mayor Gary Herzig acknowledged this evening when asked about it at a meeting of the city’s Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee in City Hall.
Seth Clark, a downtown landlord and member of the steering committee, said he had heard a “vacate” order had been issued, requiring tenants of the building – it includes businesses on the ground floor, with apartments on four stories above – to depart within 30 days.
In an interview after the meeting, the mayor said the city’s Board of Public Service, acting on the recommendation of Code Enforcement Officer Steve Yerly, had ruled several months ago that the building was not up to code. “There were a significant number of significant code violations that would jeopardize the safety of people in the building and surrounding ones,” Herzig said.
The Board of Public Service received an update on Nov. 2, and at that point issued an order to “vacate,” giving the 29 tenants a 30-day reprieve to find new accommodations. “We don’t want anyone to end up homeless,” the mayor explained. Still, by 8:30 this evening, lights could be observed in only a handful of apartments on the upper floors.
The violations are mostly electrical in nature, according to the mayor, and the city will work with the owners, listed in county records as Melania and Nicolae Pervu, 3 Pine St., to bring the building up to code. If that isn’t accomplished by April 30, the city will begin condemnation proceedings, he said.
There was no answer this evening to a call made to the home phone of the Pervus, who the records show bought the building for $1.5 million in May 2015 from the Starplex Corp. It is assessed for slightly more than $1 million, and the owners pay $45,000 in property taxes annually.
The records call the building’s condition “normal,” but reported there were no alarms or sprinkler systems.
At a key corner in Oneonta’s downtown, the location was desirable for decades – the western half of the building, 189 Main, is still Class A office space filled by Otsego Now, the Otsego Chamber of Commerce and professional offices.
The section in question is listed as 195-201 Main St., to the east of 189.
After the Central Hotel burned in 1910, the structure was rebuilt within months and reopened as the Oneonta Hotel. For years after, it provided the city’s most upscale accommodations.
When he was a newsboy for the Binghamton Press in the 1930s, the late Tony Mongillo recalled a chauffeur-driven Pierce Arrow pulling up to the main entrance and an elegant lady and distinguished-looking gentleman emerging. Tony sold the man a newspaper, and only realized later he was Gov. Herbert Lehman, in the city for a political event.