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Wrecking Buffalo: Bernstone’s Cigar Store at 273 Main Street

Downtown is about to gain about six new parking spots.  The Toronto-based owner of the Bernstone’s Cigar Store building at Main and Swan is pushing for an emergency demolition of the building.  A fence has been placed around the building and a wrecker is on site ready to take taking action.  The property is located in the Joseph Ellicott Historic District.  Late today crews were bringing in portable lights (Update: demo is underway).  You better hurry if you want a last look.

The building and surface lot surrounding it are owned by Forty Fifth Street Holdings (NY) Inc., a corporation affiliated with Citicom, a parking and development firm based in Toronto.  Citicom developed Key Center, owns the surface parking lot behind the Hyatt at Pearl and Huron and in the late-1980’s proposed a high rise for the Main/Swan site. 

According to executive director of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo and Preservation Board member Tim Tielman, the Board has not been notified of the pending demolition as required by law.  More outrageous, James Comerford, Commissioner, Department of Permit & Inspection Services, refused to speak with Tielman earlier today telling an underling that Tielman should file legal action if he wants to talk.   So much for respecting a member of a public board.

According to documents filed with the City, the building with cast-iron façade work is in “eminent danger” of collapse due to roof damage.  Allpro Parking was copied on correspondence to the City.  Apparently there’s time for engineering reports and letters to the City but not the Preservation Board.  The one-story building at one time had multiple floors (built in the 1850s and design by Calvin Otis, architect of the NYS Arsenal buried in the Broadway Auditorium, now the City garage) but received a ‘haircut.’

The 3,200 sq.ft. building has been vacant since Bernstone’s closed in March 2000.  Twelve years of vacancy and no upkeep and now we’re at the “emergency stage.”  Every emergency demo order signed by Comerford is an admission of failure by his office.  No?  So it goes at City Hall.




Written by WCPerspective


Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

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