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Last decrepit Kensington Heights building finally coming down

Mike Desmond
Kensington Heights in 2012, in between demolitions.

One of Buffalo's most visible decaying buildings is on track to come down, perhaps before the snow flies.

The windowless tower is the last of the six of the old Kensington Heights housing project, towering above a curve on the Kensington Expressway and its 17 acres are adjacent to Erie County Medical Center, which now owns the property and is asking for a demolition permit for the seven-story structure, failing in its partially demolished condition since 2009.

Hospital Communications and External Affairs Vice President Peter Cutler said there is no plan for the site, but getting rid of the building clears the way. Cutler said the hospital wants to get rid of the building now that it has bought the site from the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.

"That's an old dilapidated structure. It's been there for a long time," Cutler said. "The others, as we all know, were knocked down earlier (in 2009 and 2014). There were earlier plans for the site that didn't pan out and now that we have ownership of the property, we're going to take that building down."

Cutler said once the building is down, ECMC can move forward on working with the community to figure out what to do with the property, increasingly important to the hospital which will have $96 million in projects under construction next year and is somewhat landlocked on its traditional site.

"Wait for the master plan. We want to engage the community," he said. "That's what we talked about when the property was first purchased and that's what we intend to do and have an open and transparent conversation with our neighbors and the folks that are most directly affected by what could occur there on that property. We want to have a public discussion."

Cutler said the current hospital property is filling up, as facilities are added and existing buildings are renovated and repaired.

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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