The City of Buffalo has the legal right to take possession of an old, historic building in the Cobblestone District that burned last month, a judge ruled last week.

On June 18, the run-down and seemingly abandoned property at 110-118 South Park Avenue downtown, in which no utilities were actively in service, suffered $1.1 million in damage during a fire, the cause of which is still under investigation by local authorities and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

A city spokesperson confirmed last Thursday that the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, a court based in Rochester, sided with the city and in denial of an application from the building’s current owner, Darryl Carr, allowing the city to take ownership of the badly damaged building under eminent domain.

Carr reportedly said he will file an appeal on the decision with the state’s Court of Appeals.

City Councilmember Mitch Nowakowski, who represents the Fillmore District, released a statement in support of the ruling.

“The ruling from the NYS Appellate Division, Fourth Department, denying a motion to appeal in the eminent domain case is another significant win in our ongoing and determined fight for the properties at 110-118 South Park,” he said in a statement on his Facebook page. “The decision upholds the previous court ruling in favor of the city’s eminent domain efforts.

“Not even fires that are still benign currently investigated by Buffalo Fire and the ATF are going to halt our fight to bring these buildings into city inventory for reuse and redevelopment,” he continues. “These properties have been neglected for nearly two decades by an owner who allowed them to deteriorate since purchasing them.”

He closes by urging Carr to “stop wasting taxpayer dollars in courts and do the right thing.”

The massive fire in the Cobblestone District happened one day after a fire destroyed The Pink, a beloved bar in Allentown.

The next day, it was announced that the fire happened the same day Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio reversed a decision by Buffalo Housing Court calling for the demolition of the building, owned by Carr and Park Avenue Estates.

Carr has been in a longstanding eminent domain dispute with the city for more than a year: In January 2023 he was granted a demolition permit through Buffalo Housing Court but it was immediately challenged. Preservation Buffalo Niagara President Bernice Radle said he has been trying to demolish the building for closer to 10 years but preservation groups have been fighting to save them, as they are historically significant among some of the oldest structures in Buffalo.

Historic Church Being Repurposed in Buffalo, New York

A historic Linwood District church - one that dates back 152 years - has been sold and will soon find a new life as an apartment-anchored, mixed use development.

Gallery Credit: WNYREIS, HUNT Real Estate

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