Fri October 11, 2013
Dismantling of Erie Freight House blocked
The land marked Erie Freight House on Ohio Street in the City of Buffalo will stay around a little longer. The Preservation Board voted Thursday evening to block knocking it down to allow an apartment building.
But developer Sam Savarino wants to replace the century-and-a-half old structure with an $18-million, 80-unit building on the same structural footprint along the Buffalo River.
Everyone agrees the building is in bad shape, possibly why the city at one point wanted an emergency demolition and forced the former owner out of the structure.
The developer has promised to save historic elements where possible, but said much of the building structure is damaged by water or isn't useable today.
Preservation board member Terry Robinson said the developer has done everything he could to make the picture clear.
"Mr. Savarino has shown more than due diligence in his examination of the structure, its potential re-use and alternative uses. It may not be something that I personally am happy with in terms of an 1868 structure leaving. But it's not something that I for the present can see an alternative to," said Robinson.
After the vote, Savarino said he isn't sure what he will do next although he could take it to the Buffalo Common Council.
"I think the condition of the building already is significantly deteriorated. It's certainly not going to get any better," said Savarino. "It is already a threat to health and safety. It's on record as being such."
Savarino said the board decision wasn't made under the rules, but by the views of board members.
Savarino noted the partially-collapsed building won't get any better if it sits though another winter. He said water can get into surviving columns and beams which have already been weakened.
City inspectors recently conducted a check of the building, but their results were not released yet.
Preservation board member Timothy Tielman said landmarks aren't supposed to be demolished.
"We are the city of Buffalo Preservation Board,” said Tielman.