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PBN’s Jessie Fisher on the Great Northern debacle

Court Issues Temporary Stay of Demolition

As I was speaking with Jessie Fisher (Executive Director of Preservation Buffalo Niagara – PBN) moments ago, the Buffalo News reported that the judge (Judge Tracey Bannister) has issued a temporary stay of demolition, per the Great Northern grain elevator.

“It’s not over!” said Jessie. “It looks like it’s going to the next round of hearings. That should give is about a month, before the case is heard at the appellate court.

After Mayor Brown ignored the Common Council and the preservation community, and basically stuck it to developer Douglas Jemal who was interested in helping save the structure by putting up his own funding to preserve it, there is now renewed hope that the iconic structure can be saved.

It’s certainly been a couple of tough weeks on the Buffalo preservation front. There is simply zero leadership from Mayor Brown when it comes to preserving our historic buildings, which we have readily seen.

“This is the Notre-Dame of Buffalo,” said Fisher. “This is not some small building on a city side street. This building is significant, and is a testament to the City’s industrial heritage. It’s our architectural legacy. And to not put up a fight for it? To be so blasé about it? It is infuriating. We have a developer that is willing to take it on – a developer that has a proven track record. We’re up against the owners that want to take it down.

Read “Judge Tracey Bannister acts to prevent demo to allow appeal to proceed” @ Campaign for Greater Buffalo. The Campaign is preparing for a January 24th hearing on a preliminary injunction pending an appeal on the City’s emergency demolition order. The Campaign is required to post a bond of $100,000 by January 21 – Jemal has agreed to be guarantor of the bond. 

“As preservationists, we have proven our case. Since the emergency demolition permit was issued, a lot has come to light. Different engineers have come forward pertaining to the solid construction of the building. We are seeing with our own eyes that this is not an emergency situation. The City should reconsider the emergency demolition procedure altogether. They should make the owners – ADM – go through the regular process and apply for a demo permit, which would allow the Preservation Board and City inspections to require repairs. The Preservation Board would then be allowed to hire their own experts to come up with alternatives. If ADM turned around and sued the City (due to the emergency demolition permit being rescinded), at least at that point we would know that the City was fighting on our behalf, instead of us fighting the City. The first lawsuit was not successful, but we are looking at other options for a lawsuit.

“We just can’t give up – we have seen a billion dollars in private investments because we have these historic buildings. If that doesn’t convince people to save the Great Northern, then I’m not sure what else will. Preservation is bringing this city back, that is clear.”

Although the demolition permit was issued yesterday, a temporary stay of demolition has been granted. That means that we have additional (and very precious) time to rally together to save this magnificent structure. We’ve lost enough of our architectural heritage due to lack of leadership in this city. Let’s not continue to erase our built history.

Currently, PBN is asking people to contact the Mayor’s office and South District Councilman Chris Scanlon to fight for the future of the Great Northern. Click here to learn more.

Click here to sign the petition to save the Great Northern. 

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer |

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