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.
“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 If ADM turned around and sued the City (due to the emergency demolition permit being rescinded), at least at that point we would know that the City was fighting on our behalf, instead of us fighting the City.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.