BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A State Supreme Court judge on Tuesday cleared the way for the owner of the Great Northern Grain Elevator to proceed with demolition of the beleaguered waterfront building.
Judge Emilio Colaiacovo denied preservationists’ request for a preliminary injunction and vacated the temporary restraining order against ADM Milling Company, which is seeking to tear down the historic structure after a large exterior wall collapsed in a wind storm in December.
The City of Buffalo granted ADM an emergency demolition order in December, setting off a series of legal challenges that have played out over the past six and a half months. When a previous restraining order was vacated in January, ADM said it would “begin the required demolition activities without delay to address the immediate safety concerns.”
ADM appears to have another window to begin demolition after Colaiacovo’s decision Tuesday.
“While the Court certainly notes the public interest in this case as well as the history of the Great Northern itself, nostalgia and attraction does not warrant reaching a conclusion that is contrary to the facts,” Colaiacovo wrote. “… The facts show that this building, while historic and of sentimental interest, cannot survive without a huge, gaping hole in its northern wall. This is further illustrated by its overall poor condition, cracked façade, and failures in the structural integrity of the building.”
The court also affirmed that the emergency demolition order issued by the city was “quite rational under the circumstances.”
It is not immediately clear how soon ADM hopes to begin demolition, or if further appeals are being planned. ADM did not give a timeline in a statement to News 4, but did say it is working with a local non-profit to create a list of items from the building they would like to save.
“We have said from the beginning of this process that the safety of our employees and other Buffalonians is our top priority. The court has now heard evidence from both sides and agrees that the City of Buffalo and ADM reasonably concluded the Great Northern Elevator constitutes a safety hazard and is beyond repair.
“We also said from the beginning of this process that we respect the significance of the Great Northern Elevator to the Buffalo community, of which ADM and our employees are a part, and we are committed to finding ways to honor its legacy. In that spirit, we have begun discussions with a local not-for-profit organization to develop a list of artifacts that would be ideal to preserve and spark ideas for how they can be creatively displayed for years to come. We have talked about preserving, where feasible, a selection of items that could include a small bin, the locomotive, the spiral staircase and repurposed bricks, among other items. We are working closely with our contractors to determine what can be safely preserved in the demolition process and what could feasibly be used by the not-for-profit.”ADM Milling Company statement
News 4 reached out to the Campaign for Greater Buffalo, which is seeking to preserve the 125-year-old building, and will update this story with their statement if they reply.
Judge Colaiacovo’s 47-page decision can be read below. (App users, click here if the file does not load correctly.)
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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.