“The goal is to do everything that we can to make it a win for the city, rather than a win for Darryl Carr.”

Standing at corner of South Park and Illinois Street yesterday, watching 110 and 118 South Park Avenue burn, it was hard to think that I was standing in the city of Buffalo in the year 2024.

After losing the Old Pink to fire just days before… and visiting the site of the former Holy Apostles SS Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church (now-demolished) this past April, and thinking about the brick beauty at the corner of Vermont and 16th (now demolished), Two Wheels Bakery (demolished), 324 North Oak (demolished), The Great Northern (demolished), 510 Niagara Street (demolished), 743 Main Street (demolished), 68 Sycamore (demolished)… and going back a little further to The Falcon building in Allentown (demolished), 411 Jefferson (demolished), St. Mary’s on the Hill (demolished), The Vernor building (demo), The Continental (demo), and oh yeah, half of downtown Buffalo back in the day (demoed)… it was hard to imagine that we were about to lose another one. And not just another one. A building of such importance that it seemed as if the entire city was rooting for it.

How had we, as a city that supposedly hangs its hat on its architecture, sunk so low that we couldn’t even save these high profile historic structures?

I hardly slept last night, thinking that there was yet another part of the city that had been dealt a horrific blow. What was next? What other buildings would soon be facing the wrecking ball? What would stop Buffalo from becoming another Plain Jane USA? Bricks for everyone! Put them on your shelf to remember our historic buildings that continue to bite the dust.

This morning, I felt that I should call preservationist Tim Tielman, to offer my condolences. As I was on the phone with Tim, I got word from West Coast Perspective that architect Steve Carmina was willing to step in and save the day. He had rescued The Nash Lofts from similar demise. Could it be true? And if it was true, it’s almost is if demolition crews work much faster once there is word on the street that there is a ray of hope for at at-risk building. You can almost hear the knives sharpening in the distance, as they drool over the injured prey.

Moments ago I spoke to Steve Carmina (Carmina Wood Design) who has been advocating for adaptive reuse for the South Park buildings for years.

“I’ve been pushing for the taking over of this property for a long time,” said Carmina. “This process is onerous as s*#t. The last thing we need in The Cobblestone District is another parking lot. As far as I’m concerned, this fire was not random. This building was not just going to burn down on its own. If it was someone, they failed. They did not accomplish what they set out to do. This site is salvageable. I’ve walked around the building… we’re going to save it and restore it. It only really burned in the middle section. This building is not done. This is coming from me, as an architect and preservation guy. I can work with people that can stabilize the building, until the City can pick it up and assign a developer, which is what they intend to do. The goal now is to do everything that we can to protect the public by stabilizing it, along with selective demolition. The City is now looking at this as a preservation project, not a teardown. If I have to do this for free, I’ll do it. I’m 68 – I don’t care anymore [laughing].

“As for Carr (the owner), he has proven himself to be insincere and unrealistic. Saying that he is going to build a Bashar Issa (esque) tower on that site is incomprehensible and will never happen. The goal is to do everything that we can to make this a win for the city of Buffalo, rather than a win for Darryl Carr.”

There is now a renewed effort by the City to work with Carmina, Sam Savarino (developer), Preservation Buffalo Niagara, and others, to come up with a strategy to stabilize 110 and 118 South Park Avenue, so that it can then be developed. Is it possible that this could be the fire that needed to be set under the feet of Buffalo, as a sincere wake-up call concerning the importance of preservation (real action over rhetoric)?

The post “The goal is to do everything that we can to make it a win for the city, rather than a win for Darryl Carr.” appeared first on Buffalo Rising.

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