Common Council launches probe into neglect of ‘doomed’ historic building

Local News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–The Buffalo Common Council unanimously adopted a resolution, Tuesday, calling for the owner of an historic building to explain how the centuries old structure became so dilapidated it was declared a safety hazard and had to be demolished.

The owner of the property at 435 Ellicott Street also owns 4 other properties downtown, and the Council’s resolution requests an accounting of all the building code violations against those properties  from the Department of Permit and Inspection Services.

Council President Darius Pridgen seemed to be fed up with the owner, “Several buildings are sitting with boards up and no movement at all, and ‘For Sale’ signs on them. If they can’t take care of their property, they ought to sell them.”

City records show the owner of the 5 properties as Buffalo Properties, Ltd., which is controlled by Bruce Adler of Nyack, N.Y. After city officials figure out what might have gone wrong at 435 Ellicott, they plan to make changes at City Hall to better preserve Buffalo’s historic buildings.

Mayor Byron Brown is calling the city’s negligent landlords, “bad actors” and suggested Adler might be among them.

City inspectors had closed the building at 435 Ellicott on August 21 following a partial roof collapse, but little was done to shore up the historic 3-story structure until a second partial collapse led to an emergency demolition for safety purposes.

Brown faulted the absentee property owner, but also pointed a finger at city Housing Court, for failing to protect the historic building.

“I haven’t been happy with the speed of the process in Housing Court.  Many residents in different parts of the city have complained about how slow Housing Court can be.”

Housing Court Judge Patrick Carney said he could not respond to Brown’s comments about the Ellicott Street travesty because the case never got to Housing Court.

But South District Councilman Christopher Scanlon said lawmakers might have to find a way to streamline the entire process–from the moment inspectors write up the code violations until those citations reach Housing Court, and get a hearing.

“For properties coming from Permits and Inspection Services to Housing Court, and how we can move that process along more efficiently and effectively.”

Pridgen said they have to make changes since the building on Ellicott St. was closed for nearly 4 months, and still had not reached Housing Court.

“When we know that something could threaten the public safety, those are structures that may–and I don’t have the answers yet–need to go into court a lot sooner.))

City lawmakers say if they don’t get answers from Buffalo Properties, Ltd., or a representative regarding the buildings’ deteriorated conditions, the Council’s inquiry could get upgraded to a formal investigation.

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