Days could be numbered for Buffalo’s Great Northern Elevator

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BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) Days after a windstorm caused a brick facade to crumble to the ground, a 120 year old grain elevator could face ’emergency demolition.’ But not if preservationists and a powerful Buffalo Congressman have any say in the matter.

“That elevator could stand for another 100-120 years,” said Tim Tielman, executive director of The Campaign for Greater Buffalo. He says the Great Northern Elevator is held up not by the brick facade, which blew off in Saturday’s storm, but instead by the steel frame and steel bins inside, as shown in a photo from 1897 when it was built.

Tielman gives walking tours by the grain elevators in the First Ward, including the Great Northern Elevator. “They come from Toronto, they come from Montreal, they come from New York City, across the country to see this.”

But ADM Milling, the company which has owned the property for three decades is now asking the City for an emergency demolition permit saying in part;

“All of the engineers have concluded that the structure was not designed or built to withstand what are now understood to be the expected wind loads, and there is no safe or feasible way to remedy those design deficiencies.”

“The brick exterior walls are far too high, too thin and are unsupported. And because the building is over 120 years old, the mortar throughout has degraded.”

Congressman Brian Higgins thinks it a convenient excuse. “I think ADM is looking at this windstorm, the damage sustained to their building to do what they always wanted to do and that’s tear it down, they don’t care about historic preservation, they care about getting rid of that building.”

Brian Bennert came from Lewiston to see it for himself. “I know there’s talk about fixing it and personally I think, if they’re gonna spend money, why don’t they spend it on the Central terminal or something that might be useful in the end.”

The City of Buffalo Department of Permit and Inspection Services now must decide whether or not to grant the emergency demolition order. If it is granted, Tielman says he will likely ask a judge to issue a temporary restraining order to delay demolition until a hearing can be held on the matter.

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