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Allentown garage turns into city Preservation Board issue

Mike Desmond

DeRutte Alley is hidden in the center of Allentown, little known to many, even perhaps in that neighborhood. However, a worn garage on DeRutte has turned into a city Preservation Board issue.

The alley runs off Virginia Street between Park Street and Elmwood Avenue, providing garages and parking in most of the block leading to Allen Street. The address 58 Park St. is served by a garage that even the owner says is far gone and should be demolished.

Speaking to the board, owner Alex Severyn said it would be too expensive to demolish and replace the garage.

"I cannot fix the structure. I cannot patch it anymore," Severyn said. "I understand that taking it down or leaving it as it is are my options. I know that. I do have estimates to pour another roughly 800-900 square feet of brand-new concrete for a parking pad."

Not everyone agrees, however, with a neighbor arguing it is repairable. Neighbor Michael Baumann says Severyn is a really bad neighbor.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"It's hard to get ahold of you, but, the thing is, this is my concern as well, is the fact I've called you in the past," Baumann says. "Your workers or whatever have left doors open. They don't get locked for four days. There's heroin dealers that have been caught in the dilapidated garage of your property, which I called you to save your own property."

Severyn says he has run into problems getting the four apartments ready for use. The Preservation Board tabled the demolition request, saying it wanted more information about what is planned.

Preservation Board Chairman Paul McDonnell says the board wants to see more than promises of replacement.

"The last thing we allowed to be demolished in Allentown was on Franklin Street, for an apartment building. Remember?" said McDonnell. (Eric Lander: It's a vacant lot now. It's a parking lot. I saw that the other day and I was pretty disappointed.) And that was after all the assurances. We had drawings and everything, that that was going to be a new building built and we allowed the demolition."

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.
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