BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The battle over the Great Northern Grain Elevator continues, as the New York State Supreme Court Fourth Department Appellate Court ruled in favor of a local organization trying to save the historic structure.
“It’s a fascinating structure. It influenced, of course, one of Buffalo’s major industries,” Tim Tielman, director of Campaign for Greater Buffalo, told News 4.
The Campaign for Greater Buffalo argues the owner of the elevator, ADM Milling, Co., has left the lot vacant for years and has not made a move to invest in the property.
“We have an owner of the building who has owned the building for many many years who just refuses to move on it and refuses to do anything to it. They want to move forward with a demolition, unfortunately, to leave us with a parking lot, which is really the last thing we need,” Assemblymember Jonathan Rivera, NYS District 149 (D), added.
The City of Buffalo issued an emergency order for demolition after the grain elevator sustained damage in a December 2021 wind storm. The organization was not allowed to testify on why the building should be saved, so they filed an injunction in court. Friday the state court ruled in their favor, allowing them to provide evidence to support their opinion.
“Now we have a legal decision on our side, but we still have to fight now, because its going back to the Supreme Court,” Paul McDonnell, president of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo, said. “We’ll have our day in court.”
The group argues that the elevator is a landmark that represents Buffalo’s history as a major grain producer. They also say the building inspired a wave of modern architecture around the world.
Some residents agree with the organization, saying the structure should be protected, restored and repurposed.
“All these buildings in Buffalo hold weight,” Takari Brown said. “They’re historical. They’re ancient and they’re part of this city. I feel like they all belong to be restored and brought back to their prime if possible.”
Aside from the historical aspect, residents say they wouldn’t mind seeing it redeveloped with new businesses and living spaces.
Others are skeptical, and told News 4 it may be better to start from scratch, and build new structures to increase tourism in Buffalo.
“They should take the grain elevator and tear it down,” Todd Fraker added. “[They should] invest in new places along the water front.”
The case will be heard in state court again, as the fate of the waterfront property hangs in the balance.
The Campaign for Greater Buffalo says the next steps in the legal battle include their testimony in court. They are also calling on the building’s owner to fix the elevator. If the court ultimately sides in their favor, the organization says they’ve heard from several developers who are interested in partnering with the project.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.