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Preservationists Hope to Block Demo at Former Freight House | News

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Preservationists Hope to Block Demo at Former Freight House
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Plans to build a new, 48-unit residential complex along the Buffalo River at Ohio Street could be in jeopardy if preservationists successfully block the demolition of the old Erie Freight House.

The building, which has fallen into disrepair, was designated as a city Landmark in January of this year.

Sam Savarino, one of the developers behind the loft apartments, said the old warehouse is structurally unsafe, and due to previous renovations, it would be nearly impossible to historically restore even parts of it.

"I just think that this particular location and with this particular structure, (preservation is) not feasible, and the building is unsafe," Savarino said. "It needs to come down at least to the foundations."

But Tim Tielman, a noted preservationist with the Campaign For Greater Buffalo, said the building should be saved.

"It's covered with sheet metal right now, but inside of there it is wonderful," Tielman said, adding "it's in such a great location that we feel the building deserves to live another 150 years, and we'll do what we can to make sure that happens."

Both Tielman and Savarino said they believe the public discourse surrounding this project is good, because both can see the other side. Tielman believes preservation often leads to development, and he points to projects like the Darwin Martin House and the Guaranty Building as examples. Likewise, Savarino has been involved in many preservation projects.

It's unclear how far each side is willing to go to either demolish the old warehouse or save it. Both said compromise seems possible, but Savarino noted that his proposed $15 million investment is completely private money; a preservation effort would require substantial public support.

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