OLEAN — A day after publicly discussing a pending roof replacement at the Manufacturers Hanover building, the city’s Urban Renewal Agency on Friday reported that mold contaminates the long-vacant structure.
The mold, discovered during a recent air quality test, was not visually apparent on any surfaces on the first or upper floors, but early assessments indicate it may stem from excessive basement moisture. The former bank at the city’s main intersection — which last had formal tenants in the early 1990s — has been without heat for more than 18 years, URA officials said.
The Urban Renewal Agency purchased the century-old Manny Hanny, as it’s commonly known, in 2010.
“Obviously, it’s disappointing that there’s another issue to deal with in regard to getting this building redeveloped and having it be something that would be attractive to external developers,” said Olean Common Council President Paul Gonzalez, D-Ward 3, who also serves with the URA. “That being said, look at the course of action that the URA is taking — swift and appropriate to remediate the situation. That really speaks to the URA’s commitment to redeveloping that building and salvaging it and making it worth what it is; what it can be for the city of Olean.”
There are currently no federal or local regulatory air quality methods or exposure limits for airborne fungal spores, officials said. Staff will begin removing and cleaning contaminated materials to prevent more fungal growth.
The Urban Renewal Agency had already been planning work there including the roof replacement and other associated upgrades. An estimated $400,000 price tag would “hopefully be on the high end” of the scope, URA Chairman Chuck Corcoran said Thursday.
Following an independent analysis of the building, Corcoran said, the URA would issue a request for proposals in hopes of accepting the lowest responsible bidder by May and completing the work by Sept. 1. The agency will cover the bill, most likely with a combination of financing and grants, he added.
The cost of the mold remediation, however, is unknown, Gonzalez said. The Times Herald was unable to reach Corcoran for comment Friday.
“I doubt it would be overly inexpensive,” Gonzalez said. “I think it’s too early to say what kind of cost we would be looking at. I wouldn’t have the kind of expertise to estimate what kind of dollar amount we’ll be looking at.”
Access to the building has been restricted the last several months. Olean High School students had been working independently with the social media group Revitalizing Olean to spruce up the lower bank level for prom this spring.
“I would think, if anyone had plans for the building, they would be on hold for now,” Gonzalez said.
City officials hope the six-figure overhaul to the roof of the Manny Hanny will slow its decay and possibly compel a developer to give it new life.
Asbestos, a cancer-causing agent, also is located in some spots in the aging structure. It is found on the first level in vinyl composite flooring and transite subflooring only in two annexes at the westward-extending rear, according to a 2013 asbestos report obtained by the Times Herald through the Freedom of Information Law. A floor layout in the report also notes asbestos in exterior masonry caulk. It’s more prevalent in the basement boiler insulation and duct wrap as well as on other floors. But city officials have cited little to no danger from potential airborne asbestos particles.