UPDATED UPDATE: Peter Krog tells The Buffalo News he will preserve the building “if” he can, says there are structural issues with the building, and if he does demolish it he’ll put a parking lot in its place. Oh, and he was slapped with a Stop Work order from the City.
He said he was not “currently” considering demolition but raised the prospect of putting in a parking lot if he deemed the building beyond repair.
“We have not determined what we are going to do with that building. We have a parking problem there, and there are structural issues with that building we are evaluating,” he said.
Krog, who is an engineer, said there was also a “huge foundation failure” in the rear of the building.
“I am for preserving anything I can. We’re preserving the Trico building, and if I can preserve it, I will preserve it. If I can’t, I won’t,” Krog said.
UPDATE: Presevation Buffalo Niagara spoke with ower Jim Cornell who said the Powerhouse is not being demolished. From PBN’s Facebook page:
“he assured us that the bricks were removed for a structural analysis of the building as part of the plan to rehabilitate the building. There is NO intention to demolish the Powerhouse. Excecutive Director Tom Yots and I went to the site today and the bricks are neatly stacked on a pallet and have been carefully removed.”
Perhaps the Larkin Powerhouse at Seneca and Larkin streets is not going residential afterall. It’s feared the building could be going to landfill instead.
Members of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture have witnessed and documented illegal demolition activity at the R.J. Reidpath-designed powerhouse. A section of brick wall is being removed by contractors working on behalf of the building’s owner, developer Seneca Holdings LLC consisting of Peter Krog’s Krog Corporation, Jim Cornell of Praxiis LLC, and Gordon Reger’s Reger Holdings LLC. The trio are redeveloping the adjacent 701 Seneca Street into Larkin Center of Commerce.
In 2011, Seneca Holdings proposed converting the building into “Larkin Lofts” containing fifty-four residences ranging from 600 to 1,300 square feet. There was to be enclosed parking for 54 vehicles, plus storage for individual tenants, and a 37-car parking lot to the west of the building.
Contractors said the building would be demolished “in a month.” Piles of bricks and a wrapped pallet of bricks were photographed by The Campaign. A query at the Department of Inspections revealed no permit for the demolition work, nor applications filed for the building as a whole. The Buffalo Preservation Board, which must review all demolition applications, has also not received any notice of such an application.
Campaign Executive Director Tim Tielman expects to give the City of Buffalo Preservation Board a nomination form to designate the powerhouse and all the Larkin Company buildings as a local historic district. Once accepted, the Board could vote as early as today to schedule a public hearing.
“It is unfortunate and outrageous that a building owner seeking to exploit the historic cachet of the Larkin Company would destroy part of the nation’s legacy for a parking lot,” Tielman said. “A Larkin Historic District would give long overdue formal recognition and protection to one of America’s most important industrial complexes. It would also offer the maximum protection for the endangered powerhouse.”
Krog’s company is enjoying the fruits of other public and private investments in “Larkinville.” M&T Bank recently leased a large block of space, and Krog has been building and repaving parking lots in the area.
“There is always a creative solution to parking issues that is short of demolition, and if Krog can’t develop the building, I am sure there are other developers out there who would be happy to do so,” says Tielman. “We are determined to fight very hard to save the powerhouse, and I am sure the public will agree we cannot lose this building.”
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Administration Building, across the street from the powerhouse, was demolished in 1950. Seneca Holdings currently owns the site and operates it as a parking lot.
Buffalo Department of Permits and Inspection Services Commissioner James Comerford, reached by The Campaign on Wednesday afternoon, vowed to send an inspector to the site as soon as possible.
Loft or Parking Lot? Seneca Holdings, 716.856.0810