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Large crowd attends hearing on the future of School 63

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

Buffalo's University Heights community is grappling with a problem familiar to most city residents: What to do with a vacant landmark school right in the middle of a residential area?The former Campus North, also known as School 63, is one of six former schools now being sold by the city, after the buildings were turned back by the school board.

That means the maintenance staff isn't there anymore.

University District Common Council member Rasheed Wyatt said that's a problem because there has already been vandalism. 

A speaker at a community forum said there's drug dealing going on in the parking lot.

Speaking at public meeting, the city of Buffalo's Strategic Planning Office Executive Director Brendan Mehaffy said the city wants to get the building into a new use as soon as possible.
"We really let the proposals come in, vet the proposals," Mehaffy said.

"There are a lot of factors to be taken into account, experience of the developer, the financing...the community support. So, it's those type of factors that are taken into account before a final price or anything. These are sold by appraisal."

Credit Mike Desmond/wbfo news
The public hearing at University United Methodist Church was organized by Councilmember Rasheed Wyatt.

Neighbors don't want the building converted to affordable housing but several say they might consider market-rate apartments or veterans housing. 

There is a proposal to convert the 70,000 square foot building to an arts center, along the line of the conversion of the old Niagara Falls High School to the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center.

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.