Dragon Inn owner Ching Ya Wu was expected to move forward with his request for a demolition permit at the June 24 Historic Review Board meeting, but his representative, Don Snyder, didn’t attend and later told the Saugerties Times he’s not sure what Wu wants to do next.
In the meantime, Wu is allowing a preservation group “to start cleaning it up so it looks more presentable,” according to Mark Smith, chair of Friends of Clovelea, which he said is “in the process of evaluating various reuse alternatives.” Smith has said previously the group would like to purchase the property, fix up the home and possibly make it a tourist destination and bed and breakfast, similar to the Saugerties Lighthouse, which was brought back from the brink by a group of dedicated volunteers in the ’80s and ’90s.
In May, the Review Board designated the home historic, along with the adjacent carriage and gate houses which had been part of the original estate, built in the Gilded Age by Saugerties industrialist William R. Sheffield. Wu has been seeking a demolition permit since late 2012 after unsuccessfully trying to sell the 3.5-acre property for around $1 million, likely reasoning it will be worth more without the fire-damaged structure. To pursue the demolition permit, he must appeal to the Review Board and, if refused, the Village Board, on the grounds of hardship. (Wu currently owes over $70,000 in back taxes and would face foreclosure proceedings in the next year.)
Snyder said he missed the June Review Board meeting because of a family emergency. He said he will meet with his client prior to the next meeting, July 24, to discuss all options.