Ithaca, N.Y. — Parts of the building that housed the Chapter House bar could remain standing following a fire earlier this month, according to Mike Niechwiadowicz, director of code enforcement for the city of Ithaca.

That would mean that there’s a chance the whole structure won’t have to be torn down and rebuilt — though it’s too soon to say for sure either way.

“The engineer’s report has identified the portions of the remaining structure that are not in danger of imminent collapse and will be allowed to remain at this time,” Niechwiadowicz says.

“Please note the fact that after additional removals the remaining portion of the building will not be in imminent danger of collapse does not necessarily mean that it can be saved.”

We also learned the following from Niechwiadowicz about the Chapter House clean-up:

— “The clean up and removal of debris has begun,” he said.

—  Different parts of the building were identified by the engineer as being able to stay standing. That includes “most of the exterior walls,” according to Niechwiadowicz.

— More engineering analysis “will have to be done to determine if the remaining portion of the building can be saved,” Niechwiadowicz says.

— The building did have a current certificate of compliance with city building code, according to Niechwiadowicz.

— A fire started in the basement of that building in 2000. At the time, an Ithaca fire lieutenant told The Ithaca Journal that officials were “absolutely sure” that it was intentionally set.

Phyllis Radke, previous building commissioner for Ithaca, also told The Journal in 2000 about the fire at that building: “The problem is that the building preexisted building codes, it may or may not have had insulation. We do not have retroactive codes.”

Last week, Niechwiadowicz said that Radke’s comment still applied, because “the building pre-existed building codes and the retroactive codes are very limited in scope.”


Ithaca Voice coverage of Chapter House fire


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.