Legal victory for organization trying to save Great Northern Grain Elevator

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BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) – The battle over the Great Northern Grain Elevator continues, as the New York State Supreme Court’s Fourth Department Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a local organization trying to save the historic structure.

“It’s a fascinating structure. It has of course influenced one of Buffalo’s major industries,” Campaign for Greater Buffalo director Tim Tielman told News 4.

the Campaign for the Greater Buffalo argues that the elevator’s owner, ADM Milling, Co., left the land vacant for years and did not decide to invest in the property.

“We have a building owner who has owned the building for many years who just refuses to move in and refuses to do anything. They want to go ahead with a demolition, unfortunately, to leave us a parking lot, which is really the last thing we need,” added Assemblyman Jonathan Rivera, NYS District 149 (D).

The City of Buffalo issued an emergency demolition order after the grain elevator was damaged in a windstorm in December 2021. The organization was not permitted to testify as to why the building should be saved, so they filed an injunction in court. On Friday, the state court ruled in their favor, allowing them to present evidence to support their opinion.

“Now we have a court ruling on our side, but we still have to fight now because it’s up to the Supreme Court,” said Paul McDonnell, chairman of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo. “We’ll have our day in court.”

The group maintains that the elevator is a landmark that represents Buffalo’s history as a major grain producer. They also say the building inspired a wave of modern architecture across the world.

Some residents agree with the organization, saying the structure should be protected, restored and redeveloped.

“All of these buildings in Buffalo have weight,” Takari Brown said. “They are historic. They are old and part of this city. I feel like they all need to be restored and brought back to their peak if possible.

Beyond the historical aspect, the inhabitants say they are ready to see it redeveloped with new shops and living spaces.

Others are skeptical and told News 4 that it might be better to start from scratch and build new structures to increase tourism in Buffalo.

“They should take the grain elevator and tear it down,” Todd Fraker added. “[They should] invest in new locations along the waterfront.

The case will be heard again in state court, as the fate of the waterfront property hangs in the balance.

The Campaign for the Greater Buffalo says the next steps in the legal battle include their testimony in court. They also ask the owner of the building to repair the elevator. If the court finally sides in its favor, the organization claims to have heard from several developers interested in joining the project.

Tara Lynch is a A Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, NY, a sister station to News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.

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