BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The centuries-old building on Ellicott Street that partially collapsed Wednesday is now a bad memory to many of its neighboring downtown businesses. A demolition crew removed the remnants of the dilapidated structure Friday.
The partial roof collapse of the historic building followed an earlier collapse of a chimney in August, which led city officials to condemn the building more than three months ago.
City officials re-opened Ellicott St. between Genesee Street and St.Michaels Place Friday, and all but one of the businesses that were forced to close due to the demolition have re-opened.
It was all hands on deck at Toutant, the full crew of the southern style restaurant rushing to re-open after the two-day shutdown.
James Roberts, Toutant’s co-owner said he got the green light from city building inspectors just before noon, “We are good, so we got all hands on deck, and everybody is pretty happy to be back in here today, I am for sure.”
But a restaurant next door, Two Wheels Bakery and Café, that had been on the ground floor of the doomed building, is closed for good.
When city officials condemned the building following the chimney collapse on August 21, owner Susan Adamucci was not allowed to go back in to retrieve her kitchen equipment, valued at at nearly $200,000.
Adamucci thinks city officials could have acted sooner to secure the building, and save her restaurant, “I think the city should change some policies on landlords who do not live here that leave their buildings vacant and allow them to crumble.”
The owner of the doomed building is listed as Bruce Adler whose company, Buffalo Properties, Ltd., also owns four other buildings nearby, most of them having a laundry list of building code violations filed against them.
Common Council President Darius Pridgen believes the city needs to force out-of-town landlords to fix their neglected properties, or sell them.
“I want to see aggressive enforcement, as we did see with our inspection department, and I want to see aggressive enforcement with the courts, and everybody working together to minimize the bad actors.”
Does Roberts plan any “specials” for Toutant’s re-opening? “We’ve got hot jambalaya, to warm everybody up. We are smoking some chicken back there now to get going for tonight for barbeque. We are making sausage, baking bread, biscuits, hot biscuits.”
Roberts said, for the next few days Toutant’s patrons will notice one important difference, the regular entrance is blocked–out of an abundance of caution by city building inspectors—and staff is being posted at different front door to welcome customers.