It’s good to see a few facade improvements being conducted on Elmwood at this point in time. There’s Blue Monk, Acropolis, and of course the Coffee Culture building being erected at the corner of Bryant. Apparently some of these build-outs are not going forward as smoothly as building owners would have liked, due to hold-ups at Planning Board. I’m not blaming Planning Board for the time delays, but I am wondering if there is a miscommunication when it comes to the planning process and the building process.
Paul Tsouflidis, owner of Acropolis, called me yesterday and was quite irate that his new facade (image) was being held up by Planning Board for up to a six to eight week time period. Apparently Paul’s project had been issued an ‘open building permit’ in which Paul had assumed that the facade was included as part of the permit. It was only once he heard that another business down the street, conducting similar work, had been issued a ‘stop work order’ that Paul called his licensed architect and asked if something similar could happen to Acropolis. “We had just removed the awning and some of the upper windows,” Paul explained. “In order to install the new doors in front, I learned that the facade needed to go through an additional six to eight week design standards process. Now my facade is a mess and I might not get finished with the project until the end of summer. My dinners are off due to construction and I need to get back to business as usual. We’re ready to finish construction right now. Don’t you think that the person who owns the building would have been given a heads up that the process would take so long… and that there was an additional process to go through?”
As I stated earlier, I am all for having design standards, and I realize that come spring there are a lot of building owners looking for approval. A bottleneck might happen once in a while… I get it. There are also, I assume, a few building and business owners out there trying to beat the system by starting jobs without the appropriate permits in hopes that The City never catches up with them. Then there are people like Paul who appear genuinely upset that plans need to be tabled, when all of his designs were drawn to exceed the quality and design standards required for the Elmwood District. “When I submitted the plans back in February, you would have thought that someone would have briefed me that the facade approval was a different process. Had I known, I would have started that process at the same time. This should be dummy proof… where’s the manual? Maybe the businesses on Elmwood looking to enhance their facades wouldn’t be running into so many issues if things were easier to understand, or the process was explained more thoroughly. If this is just about design and building standards, then you would think that the project would be cleared.”
As it stands now, Paul will be putting up a nice tent out in front of the business in order to detract from the facade as it stands. The hardware will sit for weeks waiting to be installed. Plus he claims that his business will continue to be down since it looks to be under construction. “I employ people,” he added. “I pay taxes. I revamped the interior (see post) and now I’m going to be sinking $35,000 into the facade. Why should it take that long for someone to look at the plans and tell me that they look alright? I love Elmwood Avenue, and I’m a big Buffalo supporter, but I’m a bit frustrated right now.”