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Temporary restraining order stops demolition of partially collapsed building in Buffalo, New York

View of the building's facade, which is the only entry point for the building. Residents hope to save this, and at least half of the side walls.
Image: Jason Safoutin.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Buffalo, New York — In an exclusive report, Wikinews has learned that a restraining order won by area residents has temporarily stopped the emergency demolition of a three story building which partially collapsed on Wednesday, June 11, 2008 in Buffalo, New York. The collapse caused at least 15 homes surrounding the property to be evacuated

During the early afternoon hours on June 11, the Buffalo Fire Department was called to scene at 428 Jersey Avenue after residents called 9-1-1 stating that part of a building had collapsed. A large portion of a former livery and stable had collapsed into the yards of at least four houses that surround the stable. 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.

According to savethelivery.com, a website set up and dedicated to "saving part of this historic structure", the restraining order was granted on Saturday, forcing demolition crews to halt their work. The site also states that court papers will be filed on Monday in an attempt to hold the owner Bob Freudenheim responsible for the damage done to the building, and surrounding properties. The site states that Freudenheim has neglected the building for "the last twenty years."

"We are an outraged and responsibly concerned group of neighbors and citizens who have rallied to oppose the impending demolition of the historic White Brothers Livery and Boarding Stable at 428 Jersey Street, just west of Richmond Avenue," says the site's mission statement. They seek to evaluate all options to saving the building before demolishing it, find immediate support to stop any further collapse, hold Freudenheim personally responsible for "endangering the public safety, and compensation of the city and neighbors for expenses incurred by being displaced from their homes." They also want the city to personally inspect any and all properties he owns and for him to surrender the stable to an interested party who would restore it.

Cquote1.svg [We want Freudenheim held responsible] for endangering the public safety, and compensation of the city and neighbors for expenses incurred by being displaced from their homes. Cquote2.svg

—Residents

Freudenheim gave the city permission to demolish the building on Thursday June 12 during an emergency Preservation Board meeting, because he would not be "rehabilitating the building anytime soon." Freudenheim, along with his wife Nina, were part-owners of the Hotel Lenox at 140 North Street in Buffalo and were advocates 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. They 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.

According to city officials, Freudenheim is facing housing violations for neglecting the building. Residents state that Freudenheim should be "100% responsible" for his actions, and many are afraid that once the building is demolished, Freudenheim's charges of neglect will be abolished.

Although a restraining order is in place, residents still fear that demolition crews will attempt to continue demolition. As a result, police have a permanent detail on location to make sure everyone including both protesters and residents, follow the law.

A rally is planned to take place today at 1:00 p.m. for anyone interested in saving the building.


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This exclusive report features first-hand journalism by one or more Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.