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Revitalization Through Demolition?

273 Niagara Street is a non-descript three story brick Italianate building located within the West Village’s Historic Preservation District. It was last used as NTS Taco & Sub before it was struck with a fire this past summer. Situated along a gateway into the heart of the West Village and downtown itself, it has beautiful vantage points looking south along Niagara Street as it ends in Niagara Square with the McKinley monument terminating the vista providing sightlines every good urban street should have.
This building and street are diamonds in the ruff. With all the recent investment along Delaware, one would expect there to be some trickle investment along S. Elmwood and Niagara Street. We are already seeing this happen within the West Village and the investments new homeowners are undertaking there. Unfortunately, the building’s owner does not see this opportunity within the same light as many of us who have decided to move into and revitalize the West Village and Downtown.
As a resident, I received a notice in the mail from the Preservation Board identifying the owner’s proposal for revitalization through demolition. (A public hearing will take place tomorrow 10/30 at 3pm in Room 901 City Hall) At last night’s block club meeting the owner provided his vision for the plot. Close your eyes and imagine a beautiful asphalt parking lot with a 1, maybe 2 story building set back from the street line with a fast food joint in there. Are you excited yet? While I credit the owner’s willingness to meet with the community, as he is a part of it, and his open mindedness to alternatives, this type of development through demolition is actually what this city needs to get away from.
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Questions need to be asked and leadership needs to be provided. These situations should follow a thorough process because as a city with more vacant and “shovel ready sites” then we know what to do with, buildings such as 273 Niagara Street once restored could lend itself as another knot in the rope too help the West Village and Downtown climb the ladder to revitalization – what will occur next?

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