Partially collapsed building in Buffalo, New York likely to be demolished

Friday, June 13, 2008

The side of the building collapsed in a 'V' shape.
Image: Jason Safoutin.

Buffalo, New York — Reports say that a large three-story stable which partially collapsed in Buffalo, New York on June 11, and caused as many as five home to be evacuated, is likely to be demolished.

During the early afternoon hours on June 11, the Buffalo Fire Department was called to 428 Jersey Avenue after residents called 911 stating that part of the building had collapsed. Material from the building fell into the yards of at least three neighboring houses. Some of the bricks landed inside the building, while some fell into the yards of some houses behind homes on Richmond Avenue, leaving a 'V' shape.

The city's preservation board held an emergency meeting today to discuss the issue. Wikinews has learned that the owner of the building, Bob Freudenheim, gave the city permission to demolish the building because he would not be "rehabilitating the building anytime soon." Freudenheim was part-owner of the Hotel Lenox at 140 North Street in Buffalo and was also an advocate to stop the Elmwood Village Hotel from being built on the corners of Forest and Elmwood Avenues in 2006 and 2007, which Wikinews extensively covered. He also financially supported a lawsuit in an attempt to stop the hotel from being built. Though it is not known exactly how long Freudenheim has owned the stable, Wikinews has learned that he was the owner while fighting to stop the hotel from being built.

Freudenheim has been facing housing violations due to the poor conditions of the building.

"We had a letter of violation against him. He was supposed to have started work to stabilize the brick this Monday. We all hope this building could be saved. But we've got five houses evacuated and we cannot tolerate any further delay. We've got to get people back into their homes in a safe condition," said Richard Tobe, Commissioner of the city's Permit and Inspection Services.

Demolition on the building is expected to begin next week, but area residents are not happy and say they will fight to keep the building in place.

"They're going to have to trash our backyard to do it. So I hope they have to have our permission, because we're not going to give it lightly. I'm sure it's the biggest and architecturally significant livery stable still standing. I can't see any reason to take it down just because of one hole," stated Joe Murray, a resident on Richmond and Jersey who lives behind the collapsed portion of the building.

Mike Lombardo, the Commissioner for the Buffalo Fire Department, believes that the building was built in 1812 or 1814, making it nearly 200 years old. It is one of only three stables still standing in the city.

If the building is to be demolished, Freudenheim will end up paying the city nearly US$300,000 to get the job done.


This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.