Most of the time I find myself in tune with all of the great neighborhood happenings in Buffalo. Other times I happen upon the destructive forces that continue to rip our historic urban fabric apart. Such was the case around noon today when I asked around if anyone had heard anything about the future of the old Royal Pheasant restaurant on Forest (and most recently Mixology). I had seen some asbestos removal yellow tape go up a while back, but was told that it was most likely just the back of the building that would be demolished, hopefully not the front.
Sometimes I get the feeling that the owners of Buffalo’s historic building stock feel that the buildings are nothing more than thorns in their sides, like liabilities or upkeep hassles. I would imagine that that is the case with the Royal Pheasant, which, come morning, will be nothing more than a memory and a pile of rubble.
It was around 4pm today, and I was in a meeting with a media relations manager from Tourism Toronto, when someone tapped me on the shoulder and said, “They’re knocking down The Royal Pheasant.”
On the way to dropping off the tourism promoter at her hotel, we swung by the demolition site to see if the entire building was being demoed, or just the insignificant back section. Unfortunately the entire structure was coming down – a sight that I did not want to see.
I wonder what the actual process was for this sad demo? I am aware that there were parties that were interested in acquiring the landmark. At the same time the word on the street was that the owner was set on creating a parking lot at the corner. I was in the midst of this conversation a mere hours before… and then suddenly I found myself staring at the wrecking machines as they took tool repeated whacks at the building.
Who had given the green light for the demo? What was the condition of the interior of the establishment? Can property owners just go around and knock down our history as they see fit, without any disregard for future generations of Buffalonians (remember Saint Mary’s on the Hill?). Where are the councilpeople, and why aren’t they weighing in on these issues and protecting our assets? Or at least making qualified decisions after third party inspections are made and reports are reviewed?
Regardless, these questions are too late to ask now… but what about the next building? And the one after that? What the heck is a parking lot going to do for this corner? Can’t the Green Code deny a parking lot from being constructed? Why reward the building owner for this? We rewarded D’Youville with a parking lot where Saint Mary’s on the Hill once stood (still breaks my heart). And I bet that that was the plan from the start – hatched between the owner in NYC and local parties to make a quick buck. This nonsense must stop. Who is the watchdog for Buffalo’s valuable infrastructure? How can we continue to let this happen at this stage of the game, when Buffalo is finally rebounding from years disinvestment?