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Construction continues at Arts Cafe on Main Street with interior demolition

LONDON BRIDGE IS FALLING DOWN — The future Art’s Cafe, located at 5 East Main St. in Springville, began interior demolition this week. The material inside will be removed entirely. Photos by Lizz Schumer.

SPRINGVILLE — Construction crews started setting up at the future Arts Cafe at 5 East Main St. in Springville on Oct. 8, as crews set up barriers to prepare for interior demolition. After hitting what Springville Center for the Arts Executive Director Seth Wochensky called “a major snag” with the asbestos removal, the project is now full-steam ahead.

When the SCA first acquired the building, a commercial appraisal valued it at $1. Through the cooperation of the village of Springville, Erie County and New York state, the center was able to remove back taxes totaling more than $150,000.

The building’s rehabilitation will cost more than $500,000, in total, although several donations will offset that cost. Jay Biscup of Seneca Steel Erectors donated the installation of all necessary steel to rebuild the interior and Jay Braymiller donated all the architectural design services.

Additional donations have been received from Alan Chamberlin of Signature A Design, Kevin Buncy of Painting Pro and Alek Wochensky of EKL Pro.

A PEEK INSIDE — At 5 East Main St., “The roof is in the basement,” according to Seth Wochensky.

The project came to a halt when the bids for interior demolition came in, which Wochensky said were seven times the estimated cost, due to the potential presence of asbestos and the sensitive nature of demolition.

“We could either move fast or keep costs down,” Wochensky said, of the delay. “When that first bid came in, that was a pretty big factor. It had the potential to be a project-killer.”

The SCA then undertook what Wochensky called “a very involved” process of collecting bids and receiving proposals for project continuation, given the condition of the building.

“We called everybody we could and asked around, trying to find somebody who could do it,” Wochensky said.

That somebody was Bryan Cirbus of Cirbus Contracting. He had been involved with the shoring of the building at its first stages of construction, and came to the SCA with what Wochensky called “an outstanding price” that would allow the project to proceed.

READY TO ROLL — Bryan Cirbus of Cirbus Contracting set up shop outside the SCA to begin internal demolition, this week. Photo by Seth Wochensky.

Because of New York state asbestos safety laws, Cirbus and his crew were charged with instating safety measures, such as a cleaning room, and must wear asbestos suits the entire time they are working at the site. Wochensky said that, given the state of the structure, work is actually characterized as an emergency demolition, rather than asbestos abatement.

“It’s not really about asbestos abatement, anymore,” he said. “The problem is our inability to separate pieces that might have asbestos from the rest of the structure. In order to do an abatement, you have to be able to separate that. But, at 5 East Main, pieces of the roof are in the basement. It’s all mangled together. So [construction crews] are removing everything and treating everything as asbestos.”

Construction is expected to last at least two weeks, but Wochensky said that, once the interior demolition is complete, the worst of will be over.

“This is the complicated part,” he said. “After this, it’s pretty straightforward. It’ll be strange to finally be able to open the back door and see nothing there.”

The SCA is working with the New York State Historical Preservation office, which has to approve the construction of the structure, and Wochensky said they are moving forward with the plans, even as the interior is being gutted.

Engineer John Strokowski is currently at work designing the interior, but will have to take a look at the structural elements that remain, after the demolition is complete.

“After it’s cleaned out, we’ll have to go in there and verify the condition of the elements, do measurements. There are parts inside that we haven’t even seen,” Wochensky explained.

“After that, we’ll finalize the plans and send them to the historical preservation office,” he said. The project is not expected to be completed until spring, but Wochensky said they hope to have a roof on the building “before the snow flies.

“The asbestos thing set us back,” he admitted, regarding the estiamted timeline for the project. “We’ll probably end up taking a little bit of time with the interior. And obviously, you can’t do [exterior] masonry when it’s 40 below. But after that, we’re gonna start chugging along.”

The director said that he did not yet know how the federal government shutdown will impact the project, if at all. Since the NYSHPO does work with the National Park Service, the shutdown of that agency may impact approval rates, at the state level.

“We would probably have no choice but to keep moving forward,” Wochensky said. “Keep following the guidelines we do have, because that sort of thing does kind of trickle down.”

As the project does continue to move forward, the first driveway into the village municipal parking lot on South Buffalo Street will be closed, including the alley where construction crews have had to set up an asbestos-cleaning room and equipment. The sidewalk in front of the building will also be closed, during work hours.


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