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Mayor Supports Incorporating Threatened House into Restaurant Design

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – The City of Buffalo and preservationists continue a battle with a local restaurant owner over a 19th century building along Elmwood Avenue.

Recently, a State Supreme Court Justice issued a ruling that would allow for demolition of the Atwater House on Elmwood Avenue. But the city is expected to appeal. The building is owned by Pano Georgiadias. He owns and operates Pano's Restaurant on Elmwood.

For months, he has been fighting City Hall to have the structure torn down, allowing him to expand his current business and parking lot. Pano recently gained support, when Justice Penny Wolfgang ruled that the building could be torn down. In her ruling, she said the city's permit and inspection department failed to follow proper city code when it turned down his request for demolition. The judge said the building is not a landmark.

WBFO News asked Mayor Masiello if the city could consider eminent domain to avoid the wrecking ball?

"We have to legally have the right facts and merits in eminent domain. We just can't come in and play by different rules. We have to play be the rules of the law," Masiello said.

Preservationists say the Atwater House, built in the late 1800s, should be saved. Mayor Masiello says he believes there is a way to incorporate the old structure into an expanded restaurant.

"A building that stays on the tax roles is very important to the architectural legacy of our city," Masiello said. "At the same time, we should incorporate the building into his business. He's got a great business, and he does great things for the community.

"But here again, I just think this has excited the passion of our people. You have a house that can't be restored or re-used, and that is what we should be working toward doing, not the demolition of the house that still has a life to it."

Masiello says they must continue to figure out how they can solve Pano's parking problem. For now the Mayor referred to the battle as an "urban tragedy" that needs a better result.