BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The owners of a historic grain elevator have cleared the first hurdle in their attempt to demolish the structure in light brick damage sustained in last Saturday’s wind storm.

The City of Buffalo Department of Permit and Inspections has granted an emergency demolition order to ADM Milling to demolish the Great Northern Elevator at 250 Ganson St. in Buffalo’s First Ward, mayor Byron Brown announced Friday.

Brown said he has been in contact with ADM and asked them, even in light of the determination, to look at the possibility of preserving all or parts of this structure.

“It was a good conversation. No commitments were made, but I did ask ADM to consider that course of action,” Brown said.

It is still possible that demolition could be blocked through court action by preservationists hoping to save the structure, which was built in 1897.  Preservationist Tim Tielman has already put the city on notice that his Campaign for Greater Buffalo is trying to get a judge to grant a temporary restraining order to stop the demolition. “There is no danger of imminent collapse. The community should be given time to look at alternatives and get independent evaluations of the structure,” said Tielman, the executive director of Campaign for Greater Buffalo.

Meanwhile the grain mill workers union is also trying to convince the company to let the workers buy it for a discount, save it from the wrecking ball, and use it as a union hall. “Obviously, this has history tied into my union and we have been looking for a home for ourselves for our own hall because we currently rent,” said Anthony Barker, president of the Bakery, Confectioner, Tobacco worker, and Grain Millers union Local 36G. “So we want to buy something and we felt the need to take action to see if we can economically, feasibly take on this project.”

Jim Comerford, Commissioner of Buffalo Department of Permit and Inspections, said he doesn’t expect the demolition to happen imminently because of the size of the project. He said the process could take up to six months once it begins.

“This is a public safety issue,” Comerford said. “I appreciate the uniqueness of the building. But its 125 years old and nobody knows when the next part of this wall could come down.”

“Nobody wants to tear a building like this down,” Comerford added. “However, if somebody got hurt or killed, that would lay in our responsibility and I don’t want that. If the architects or anyone else could tell me that the other sides of the walls are going to stay up there for a long amount in time, I want them to guarantee that in writing. And nobody can, because you can’t predict things like this. This is a 125-year-old building, brick. Nobody can predict that.”

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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.