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Buffalo Preservation Board continues to support stabilizing buildings in Cobblestone District

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – There is still tension between Buffalo officials and the current property owner following the Tuesday night fire that ripped through several buildings in the Cobblestone district.

The big question now is, what’s next for the charred buildings?

The Buffalo Preservation Board held a meeting on Thursday. Although the fire was not on the meeting’s agenda, board members did speak out about what can be expected for the future of these historic structures.

Gwen Howard, chair of the city of Buffalo Preservation Board started the meeting by thanking the Buffalo Fire Department for its cautious yet successful effort in putting the fire out.

“They could have gone in and just started to bash away, but they didn’t,” Howard said. “They were cautious about what they did. They protected the historic structure. They understood its importance and they did a great job putting out the fire while still preserving what could remain so that the work can continue there.”

‘We’ve been fighting to save this building for 15 years’: Buffalo preservationist speaks out on Cobblestone District fire

Following the fire, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown announced the city will not be pursuing an emergency demolition. Howard says this is a decision she strongly agrees with for several reasons, one being the local economy.

“There is a significant economic benefit in our community from the historic structures that we have,” Howard said. “That comes from people coming to visit the community and spend money here as visitors. That comes from movies coming here and filming. There’s been significant investment in our movie industry.”

In terms of what the process to re-stabilize these buildings would look like, Howard explained it would take about a year. She said it won’t start until the city has a resolution of the eminent domain case with the current property owner, Darryl Carr.

Carr says he had to attempt to get the property taken down. He described it as contaminated and said anyone would be able to vouch for that.

Howard said the city is likely not going to get into new development at 110-118 South Park Ave. She says it’s likely it will be made available to another developer.

There have been several buildings that were burnt out and were later rebuilt. Some of those include the Market Arcade building, the Webb building on Pearl St., and the White’s Livery Stable on Jersey St.

“All of those were vacant, and once stabilized they were able to stand for quite some time while project planning occurred,” Howard said.

Howard also spoke about what’s next after the fire at The Old Pink on Monday. Since Allentown is also a historic district, she says the Buffalo Preservation Board has a say in what might go into the lot now that the bar and restaurant has been demolished.

“Any new construction that would be put in where the Old Pink Flamingo was would still come through the preservation board,” Howard said. “There are standards on new construction. That doesn’t mean that every building is a replica of a historic building, but it does mean that it has the appropriate scale, size, level of detail, organization, rhythm and geometry that would fit in with that historic district.”

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Trina Catterson joined the News 4 team in 2024. She previously worked at WETM-TV in Elmira, a sister station of WIVB. See more of her work here.

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