Thursday, June 21, 2012

UPDATE: Pyramid has posted a press release:
If you somehow haven't been in the loop on this, here you go.

The following has been copied verbatim from City of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick's Facebook post.

This is one site of the story, but also the final decision. Owner Alex Perialas spoke with earlier in the month:


On June 19, 2012, the City of Ithaca declared unsafe Pyramid Sound’s buildings, legally requiring that they be vacated immediately, and that repair or demolition commence by January 1, 2013. Many in the community have questions and concerns about these actions. I’ve tried to answer as many as I can individually. Below are some answers to frequently asked questions..

Q: Isn’t the City declaring Pyramid’s buildings unsafe just to make construction of the Clinton St. bridge easier or cheaper?

A: No. Pyramid’s buildings are structurally unsafe and in danger of collapse, and would be so even were the Clinton St. bridge project not underway. A structural engineering analysis of Pyramid’s building concluded that:

“The cracks and displacement are clearly indicative of prior damage, settlement, and rotation. . . . [T]he settlement and movement at the load-bearing walls is significant [and] a serious concern as further movement or settlement of either of those walls could cause catastrophic failure of the building as they support the steel roof beams.”

Q: Weren’t all the cracks in Pyramid’s building caused by the bridge project?

A: No. According to Pyramid’s own engineer’s preliminary report, the building “has aged and fractured much faster, with most of the cracks and displacement quite some time ago,” long before the bridge project began. As of Monday, June 18, bridge construction has done no known damage to Pyramid’s building, which has suffered for many years from serious structural damage to the walls and floor.

Q: Isn’t it true that Pyramid’s studio is a separate building from its garage?

A: No. Pyramid’s property is made up of a garage, which is connected to a second building, inside of which is a third building. Together, these second and third buildings contain the studio, which can be described as “a building within a building.” One external wall of the studio adjoins a garage wall, leading a structural engineering analysis of Pyramid’s building to conclude that:
“Collapse of the storage garage roof area would most certainly propagate to the adjacent recording studio building, which shares a common cinder block wall running north/south.”

Q: Why doesn't the City alter or stop the bridge construction?

A: The Clinton St. bridge project is an essential public works project on which tens of thousands of Ithaca’s residents, workers, and visitors depend. Even a small delay in the bridge project could well push completion from fall 2012 to spring 2013, because winter work likely cannot proceed. And every day that the City delays bridge construction costs the City thousands of dollars in increased construction costs, further increasing the ~$3.5 million price tag for this bridge.

Q: Now that the City has declared Pyramid’s building unsafe, is Pyramid legally prevented from fixing the building?

A: No. Pyramid’s owner is welcome to fix his building, and need merely obtain appropriate building permits from the City’s building department in order for his contractor to obtain access.

Q: What information did the City review before declaring Pyramid’s building unsafe?

A: The City has extensively reviewed the information available to it in reaching the conclusion that it must declare Pyramid’s buildings unsafe. The City has reviewed:

the nearly-100-page structural engineering report (“Building Condition Survey”) conducted by Keystone Associates, Architects, Engineers, and Surveyors LLC at City expense (through a City contractor).

The City has reviewed the Structural Condition Assessment that Pyramid commissioned from its own structural engineer.

Q: Isn’t it true that the City Building Department has not recently been inside Pyramid’s buildings?

A: Yes, but Pyramid’s owner declined the City invitation for an on-site review by the Building Department.

Q: If Pyramid’s buildings are in such bad shape, why do they look fine from the outside?

A: Over the weekend of June 16, 2012, Pyramid’s buildings received a brand new paint job. While this has dramatically improved appearances, paint of course does not improve the structural integrity of a failing building, and so the same problems remain.

Q: Why doesn't the City just buy Pyramid’s buildings from the owner?

A: Pyramid’s buildings, assessed at nearly $500,000, simply do not make sense as a City purchase, which would be an inappropriate use of taxpayer money. The City is in dire financial condition and is selling, not buying, property right now. Pyramid’s buildings are in a poor condition for which their owner must take responsibility.

Q: Why hasn’t the City tried to cooperate with Pyramid’s owner to find a collaborative solution?

A: The City has tried very hard to cooperate with Pyramid’s owner towards a collaborative solution. The Mayor and City Attorney have met with, called, and emailed Pyramid’s owner and his lawyer many times in an effort to find a solution. Many City employees have spent numerous hours working to find a collaborative solution. Those efforts are ongoing.

Q: Why hasn’t the City offered to help Pyramid pay to fix this situation?

A: Despite the owner’s legal responsibility for his own building, the City has offered to help Pyramid pay to fix this situation. Subject to approval of the City legislature, the City offered Pyramid’s owner $20,000 to assist with whatever solution Pyramid’s owner might choose to pursue. As yet, he has not accepted this offer from the City.

Q: Shouldn’t the City value pioneering, independent businesses like Pyramid Sound?

A: Yes. The City does value Pyramid sound and greatly hopes that it will remain and thrive in downtown Ithaca after addressing the public safety issues created by its buildings.