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Nowakowski wants to tear down Buffalo's boarded-up Perry buildings

Plowed snow against a boarded-up building in the Perry Project.
Mike Desmond

Buffalo Common Councilmember Mitch Nowakowski sees a new state program as a way to pay for demolition of the city's Perry housing project.

The fiscally-strapped Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority has had the buildings boarded up for decades. There was talk about demolishing them as a site for a new downtown football stadium.

The Fillmore councilmember doesn't want that, instead arguing for a mixed-population affordable housing replacement. Gov. Kathy Hochul has proposed a five-year, $25 billion plan to create and preserve 100,000 affordable units statewide.

Nowakowski said the Hochul plan would be a way to pay for the demolition.

Snowy cars in a parking lot in front of a Perry Project tower.
Mike Desmond

"I see in the governor's recently proposed budget for $250 million for the community program for municipalities to demolish or rehabilitate vacant or abandoned properties that are a blight on communities," he said. "After years of abandonment and neglect, these structures must come down. They have been a blight on the surrounding community for far too long."

A written statement from a spokesperson for the governor said the money is there for this purpose, but it's up to the BMHA, which owns the boarded-up buildings as well as other low-rise structures and nearby high-rises. The statement said the Hochul administration stands ready to help with whatever replacement plans are developed.

"The first step is to take down these blighted and dangerous structures," Nowakowski said. "Seeing is believing. That's where we will see a brighter day at that site. And after conversations with a few city officials, the price tag at $1.4 million for demolition appears to be low, to certain city officials. Some expect that could cost upwards to $10 million."

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.