Pyramid Sound Studios Fights City Hall

By Kelleigh Welch. The future of Ithaca, NY-based Pyramid Sound Studios is uncertain after the city condemned the building in June—a decision owner Alex Perialas said could have been avoided during the planning stages of an adjacent bridge reconstruction project.
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The future of Pryamid Sound Studios (lower left) in Ithaca, NY is uncertain due to reconstruction of the adjacent Clinton Street Bridge. Photo: Google Maps.

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By Kelleigh Welch.

Ithaca, NY (July 27, 2012)—The future of Ithaca, NY-based Pyramid Sound Studios is uncertain after the city condemned the building in June—a decision owner Alex Perialas said could have been avoided during the planning stages of an adjacent bridge reconstruction project.

“(The studio) is just sitting there, waiting,” Perialas said. “I’m trying to stay positive that the mayor will do the right thing, but until then, we’re waiting for something good or bad to happen.”

Situated in downtown Ithaca for nearly four decades, Pyramid Sound Studios has hosted recording sessions with many artists, including David Gray, Anthrax, Ginuwine, Aaliyah and Missy Elliot, as well as producers Tom Dowd and Timbaland. But with the start of a $4 million federal reconstruction of the Clinton Street Bridge, located only feet away from the facility, Ithaca officials condemned the studio on June 19.

Ithaca’s mayor, Svante Myrick, said the city first looked at the structure of the building two years ago under the administration of mayor Carolyn Peterson after Perialas expressed concern for the studio.

“We promised we would make the contractor take a look specifically at that address because it was particularly sensitive,” said Myrick. “We did an engineering report, and came back and agreed to adjust our pile driving to be deliberately slow.”

Alex Perialas of Pyramid Sound Studios (left); Svante Myrick, mayor of Ithaca, NY.
The report showed that the building, comprised of a studio and garage with a shared roof, was slanted towards a nearby creek, and the foundation had significant cracks in it, Myrick said. When the city’s building commissioner read the report, he determined the building was unsafe and is in danger of crumbling down.

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“That’s why it’s been posted as unsafe for a number of weeks,” said Myrick. “We felt we didn’t really have a choice.”

Myrick said Perialas has the option to appeal the city’s decision and could hire his own engineer to prove the building was safe, or he could work to repair the building or demolish it completely. He said the city offered Perialas $20,000 to help pay for repairs, but Perialas has not accepted or declined the money.

“What he’s concerned about is paying to fix the building and then having the building damaged from the bridge project,” said Myrick.

Perialas argued that the garage could be removed, making the studio safe again, but, with the bridge project underway, that it would place liability on him if someone was hurt on or near the property. He said if he took the money and started work on the buildings, he would become responsible for the contractors.

“Basically it’s a whole lot of finger pointing,” Perialas said, adding that he could have removed the garage two years ago when the city started planning the project, but due to poor communication, he did not know this was an issue until it was too late.

Pyramid Sound Studios' Control Room
Now, Pyramid Studios sits unused, waiting for a compromise to allow the business to run again. In the weeks following the posting, Perialas, who is also a professor at Ithaca College, has reached out to the local media to explain his situation; supporters have established online petitions and Facebook pages against the city’s decision, and have held protests at City Hall—in the mayor's parking spot.

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“People aren’t happy,” Myrick allowed, stating that the city never wanted to put Pyramid Studios out of business: “We have no incentive to hurt this guy or his business. It’s a very valuable part of the city’s fabric.”

In terms of the bridge project, Perialas said he supports rebuilding it, but not at his studio’s expense. “We need to get across that bridge, but it shouldn’t have come at the expense of a business,” Perialas said. “We’ve been there for 38 years, so why were we ignored?”

Pyramid Sound Studios
www.pyramidsoundstudios.com