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Broadway-Fillmore residents ask for demolition moratorium in Memorial Triangle

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Preservation Buffalo Niagara
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It is called the Memorial Triangle because of the shape formed by its boundary streets. The Central Terminal can be seen just outside the triangle on its left border.

The Broadway-Fillmore area of Buffalo is a recognized historic district, with the benefits and controls brought by landmark certification. Preservationists are now shifting their focus to an adjacent area, the Memorial Triangle.

Local preservationists are asking City Hall to hold off on any demolitions in a small neighborhood near the Central Terminal, to allow planning to turn the community into a historic district.

The Preservation Board has asked the Common Council to install a one-year demo moratorium in what is called the Memorial Triangle. That is the area bounded by Memorial Drive, Paderewski Drive and Curtiss Street. The area does not include the landmark train station because it is already a national landmark.

Preservation Board Chair Gwen Howard wrote to Council President Darius Pridgen to request the moratorium, which she said is allowed under state law and is going to be discussed in the Legislation Committee Tuesday afternoon. Howard said it is a neighborhood that would benefit from historic designation.

"It would flank the new Broadway-Fillmore District and it's also important, more so, because this is an intact neighborhood, with contributing structures to an important portion of our community," Howard said. "The designatiom here may allow those property owners to benefit from historic preservation tax credits, which would give incentives for work in the homes and businesses in that area."

Fillmore Councilmember David Franczyk represents the area and is a long-time supporter of historic preservation. He said a moratorium would be a good idea to help save a neighborhood that was an early industrial residential community, where workers from the nearby railroad and the meatpacking industry lived.

"Building new homes is market driven. You don't renovate what you have there," Franczyk said. "You have new immigrants coming in now. You just don't tear things down with no plan and say, 'Who's going to pay for that?' If the building is intact and in good shape, why tear it down? If it's in very, very bad shape, that's something we have to look at, but otherwise a moratorium is not a bad idea."

Preservation Buffalo Niagara Executive Director Jessie Fisher agreed, the surviving buildings tell a story of immigration and city development.

"Such a distinct border and boundary and it hasn't been as impacted by demolitions as a lot of the rest of the community has, so you really get a sense of how this neighborhood was built at the turn of the last century, how it all came together quickly, the stories of the families that built these houses and that used immigration to really make Buffalo a great and thriving city," Fisher said. "All of that's told in the story of this neighborhood."

Everyone agreed an emergency demolition because of a problem like a fire would still be allowed.

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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