The Niagara Falls City Council voted 4-1 against designating the Johnnie Ryan Co. building at 822 Niagara Street a landmark. The move allows the owners, MATC, Inc, which includes sometimes preservationist (see 591 Delaware Avenue), other times wrecker (see the parking lot at 500 Franklin Street), architect Matthew Moscati to demolish it. Councilmembers expressed “concern” that the landmarking process had begun once the demolition plans became known. Published reports say that Moscati sought to demolish the building to reduce property taxes on the site. Moscati in a letter to the City says he is working on development opportunities for the property which is at a gateway into downtown Niagara Falls.
From the Landmark Report:
822 Niagara Street, known as the original Johnnie Ryan Co. Bottling Plant, was constructed c.1946 and is an excellent example of Art Moderne commercial architecture. Located on the northwest corner of Niagara and 9th Streets, the one-story bottling plant is built of buff glazed brick and concrete blocks with a flat roof. The main entrance, which faces Niagara Street is located within a one-and-one-half-story central entrance bay accented with glass-block windows and framed by vertical projections. The building’s streamlined façade is further accented by horizontal bands of red glazed brick, and a curved northeast corner.
MATC sued to allow the demolition. From The Niagara Gazette:
In its lawsuit, MATC is seeking potential damages if it’s not allowed to tear the Ryan building down. In its court filing, the company complains that the city’s refusal to issue a demolition permit means it will have to pay higher property taxes than it would otherwise owe on a vacant lot.
It also cites the expenses it incurred to remove asbestos from the building and cap-off utilities.
Roscetti claims, in his court papers, that because his client filed for a demolition permit and conducted asbestos abatement, the city had no right to bar the building from being torn down.
“This city doesn’t have that discretion,” he said. “You pay the fee, they gotta give you the (demolition) permit. It’s a ministerial act.”
Consider this, from today’s Niagara Gazette:
“People have been telling me they are shocked that we would tell a developer what he can do with his property,” City Council Chairman Andrew Touma said. “It’s an embarrassment that this (recommendation) is in front of us.”
“Only Niagara Falls could f*** up Niagara Falls. No vision!” – Facebook commenter