Grain elevator cleared for demolition after judge vacates restraining order; owner says they’ll begin ‘without delay’

Future of the Great Northern Grain Elevator

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The owners of the Great Northern Grain Elevator that was damaged in a storm last month have a window of opportunity to begin months of demolition work after a judge vacated a temporary restraining order Wednesday.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Emilio Colaiacovo’s decision allows ADM Milling to proceed under the emergency demolition order that was granted to them by the City of Buffalo. (You can read the judge’s full order below.)

Preservationists have argued the 120-year-old structure should be saved and are likely to appeal the ruling. The Campaign for Greater Buffalo last week released renderings of what the structure could look like if redeveloped.

Local developers Doug Jemal and Rocco Termini have also shown interest in saving the building, which was built in 1897 along the shore of the Buffalo River ship canal on Ganson Street. But the owners say they have not received any actual offers to purchase the property.

“We are committed to completing the demolition in a prompt, responsible and safe manner and appreciate the support and understanding of the local community as we prioritize colleague and community safety in this difficult circumstance,” ADM Milling said in a statement after Wednesday’s decision.

“Our primary concern is always the safety of the public, our neighbors, and our employees. The court’s decision now allows us to actively address the significant safety concerns the structure poses on-site and at adjacent properties and roadways. Pursuant to the order, we will begin the required demolition activities without delay to address the immediate safety concerns.”

The statement added: “We are identifying artifacts from the structure that can potentially be preserved safely. We are also reaching out to potential partners to discuss ways in which those items can be displayed and shared with the community to celebrate the legacy of the structure for years to come.”

Richard Lippes, the lead attorney for the preservationist group, told News 4 he plans to file for a stay of the order until it can be appealed, though Colaiacovo does not have to grant it. If he does, ADM Milling’s window for demolition would close once again.

A significant chuck of the building’s brick facade collapsed during strong winds last month. ADM Milling, which has owned the property for three decades, sought and was granted an emergency demolition permit shortly after.

“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 company wrote in its request for the permit. “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.”

You can read the judge’s decision and order below.

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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.

George Richert is an award-winning reporter who first joined the News 4 team in 1998, later returning in 2018. See more of his work here.

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