BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–The destruction of a centuries-old building in downtown Buffalo, last week, is raising questions about the city’s ability to protect historic buildings.
City officials and Buffalo’s business community are stunned, and Common Council President Darius Pridgen is introducing a resolution at the Council’s regular Tuesday meeting to get some answers.
A partial roof collapse at 435 Ellicott Street on August 21 prompted inspectors to declare the historic building unsafe, they forced a bakery and upstairs tenants to evacuated it, but during the four months that followed little corrective action was taken to shore up the building.
Then last Wednesday, another partial collapse compelled city officials to condemn the building and an emergency demolition was ordered. The property has been cleared, leaving a vacant lot with a hole in it.
Pridgen is calling on the owner of the Ellicott Street building, Buffalo Properties, Limited, controlled by Bruce Adler of Nyack, N.Y., to appear before the Council later this month to report the status of his other properties in downtown Buffalo.
The resolution also requests a report from the city’s Department of Permit and Inspection Services to file a report of any current violations on property Buffalo Properties, Ltd. owns in the city.
But on the flip side, last week’s debacle is also shining a light on Buffalo’s reputation as the “City of Good Neighbors.”
Until last Wednesday, 435 Ellicott was where Susan Adamucci operated her bakery, Two Wheels Bakery and Café in a kitchen that was practically new.
“A majority of our equipment was in there, about 95 percent of it,” but now, due to the demolition, Adamucci said the all of that equipment is destroyed, “Now it is, yes, it is in a landfill as asbestos waste, or wherever asbestos waste goes.”
With the loss of her kitchen equipment, other businesses have stepped forward to help, such as Feature Eatery at Chippewa and Main.
Co-owner Justin Tartick is pitching in until Adamucci gets back on her feet, “When we heard about what happened Sue reached out to us, and of course we are going to help them out. It is the City of Good Neighbors, and she is literally our neighbor.”
Tartick shares ownership of the Feature Eatery with Michael Khoury, and they allow Adamucci to use their kitchen after hours to fill her wholesale and custom orders that are gluten-free–a good deed with an upside—customer referrals.
“We get people all the time, ‘oh we used to go to Two Wheels for lunch, Sue told us to come here,’–great.”
But there are also questions about why city inspectors, why Buffalo Housing Court did not crack down on Buffalo Properties, Ltd., for allowing the historic building to fall so deeply into disrepair.
Prominent downtown developer Rocco Termini was asking that question last week, “Bring the Housing Court judge down here, get into these buildings, enforce the laws, take the buildings away from him. Do something that will prevent things like this from happening again.”
Adamucci said she had been asking those questions ever since she was shut out from her bakery last August.
“It was supposedly going to Housing Court. That is what we kept hearing when we would talk to inspections, is that it was going to Housing Court, it was out of their hands, and they would let me know when it was going to come up to Housing Court.”
But city officials concede paperwork in the case against Adler never reached Buffalo Housing Court, nor was there a hearing, and Pridgen says he wants to know why when he introduces his resolution, Tuesday afternoon.
Susan Adamucci anticipates her insurance coverage will fall far short of what she will need to get Two Wheels Bakery and Café back in operation, so a GoFundme.com page has been set up to get her back on her feet.