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New bidder emerges with hope to save Great Northern from demolition

The damaged Great Northern grain elevator.
Marian Hetherly
/
The Great Northern grain elevator on Ganson Street was damaged Saturday in a wind storm. Its owner reportedly is seeking permission to demolish the structure.

Preservation Buffalo Niagara says a bidder has emerged hoping to purchase and spare the damaged Great Northern grain elevator from demolition.

In a statement issued Thursday, members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers Local 36G announced their intention to determine the feasibility of purchasing the Ganson Street facility, unused for about four decades, and re-purposing it as a union hall and a public museum space.

The building's outer wall partially collapsed Saturday during a strong wind storm, exposing silos inside. ADM, a Chicago-based company which owns the building, has requested emergency demolition. City of Buffalo officials conducted a drone inspection Tuesday to further evaluate the damage.

Anthony Barker, Local 36G's president, stated: “This building represents a profound part of Buffalo’s place as center of grain milling, and we would love to be part of bringing it back to life for a new use to serve Buffalo’s future. We wouldn’t be able to do it on our own, but with the right community support, we think we can be part of the solution for saving this part of Buffalo’s history for
future generations.”

Congressman Brian Higgins is among those who see the building as historically significant, and worth saving. Speaking Thursday, he offered to help ADM secure tax incentives to help preserve the structure.

“Some 15 years ago, we created the Federal Historic Tax Credit. All these buildings in downtown Buffalo that were vacant, that were dilapidated, now have new life. There are commercial, residential, mixed use buildings. It is given new viability to downtown Buffalo through this tool called the Historic Tax Credit,” Higgins said. “When you look at Buffalo, no city does it better. Work with us!”

The Great Northern grain elevator has been unused for about four decades, but ADM runs a milling operation in a building nearby.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.