Ontario Specialty Contracting (OSC) made its case to demolish a significant portion of the Grange League Federation complex on Ganson Street yesterday to the Preservation Board. After the firm’s dog and pony show in a full hearing room, and a barrage of questions by the Board, the item was tabled unanimously.
OSC presented photographs of deteriorated internal and external portions of the property as evidence that the building must come down. Board members requested additional documentation such as whether maintenance and repair is possible and what those costs may be. An engineering report that speaks to the structural condition of the property as a whole was not provided.
The Preservation Board asked for projected demolition costs and what the cost would be for removal of code violations. A short term goal would be to stabilize for safety purposes, not repairing the century old complex into working order. Documenation was requested showing that removal of the requested portions of the property would not create new problems for the remaining sections. Company officials say they have no plans for reusing the balance of the complex.
Board members also wanted additional background material on the history of the property, deeming the company’s application “incomplete.”
A 2002 historic resources survey determined that the structure was eligible for the state and national registers, which was news to company officials.
“The reason for the Buffalo River’s international fame and why people come from all over the country and the world is the collection of grain elevators,” said Board Member Tim Tielman. “That’s why they come to the Buffalo River. That’s why they come to the Old First Ward. The ‘B’ Elevator that we’re looking at with its metal tower and gabled roof, that’s unique in Buffalo. We used to have the Electric Elevator, that was demolished, that was the only other elevator that was similar to it.”
Company officials were not happy about the requests for additional information and the delay.
“What about a feasibility study?” asked OSC’s Ron Chapin. “Let’s just say in a perfect world, what would you use it for? What could be done with it? How do you propose we fix this stuff? You have all these ideas, but give me some solutions.”
An interesting line of questions from a company that just purchased the property last October, apparently with only an eye for demolition.
Chapin was reminded that the Board’s role is to protect Buffalo’s historic resources. It establishes the historical significance of properties proposed for demolition. If it is significant, the Board determines if the building can feasibly be saved.
David Torke of Fix Buffalo (photos) attended the meeting. Audio, additional photos and interviews with Laura Kelly, Executive Director of the Old First Ward Community Association and Peg Overdorf, Executive Director of the Valley Community Center, can be found here.