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Demolition denied for historic East Side structures

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

There's another fight brewing over a decaying Buffalo building. While it may be one of the oldest surviving structures in the city, the building currently features boarded up windows.

Owner Nancy Singh wants to demolish her building at 68 Sycamore, a structure built in 1840. When she purchased the structure, the plan was to keep it going as a lodging house but City Hall won't give her a license for that. She told the Preservation Board yesterday there's been a decision to get rid of lodging houses and that leaves her with a building she can't use. The structure has suffered damage, Singh says, due to homeless people making their way inside.

"I'm telling you they're starting to get into the other building too, regardless of how I have it boarded up and they will probably burn the other building too."


The board rejected a demolition permit and agreed to write a letter to Housing Court Judge Patrick Carney saying the board was considering landmarking both buildings, potentially giving them new lives.

"They're among the oldest in the city, the rarest because they are federal style building,' said board member Tim  Tielman.

"They're on the gateway to Downtown. Many people pass this or see this daily. They are within what could be imagined as an eventual Michigan Street Heritage District."

 The board will also write a letter to Permits and Inspection Services Commissioner James Comerford asking city workers to keep people out of the structures and keep them boarded up.

"I don't know the whole list of current code violations that you are dealing with," said architect Anthony James.

"But, the amount money of you spend on demolition could easily fix some of most egregious problems and if you put out less money and have a building that's in better shape to sell."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.