The Livery

16 Jun

Last week, an old Buffalo building began to crumble and fall. It wasn’t hit by lightning or a Cessna – it began to crumble from its own weight due to years, if not decades’ worth of neglect from the owners, who had it on the market for $400,000 – a price that the market evidently couldn’t bear. There aren’t too many people around in town who can throw down $400 large for a building and then invest a like amount to shore it up, much less renovate it. So, as usual in Buffalo, another building bites the dust.

Also as usual, a band of reactivists gets vocal, files for injunctive relief, and decries how the demolition of the building would ruin the city, “destroy the fabric of the community”, etc. Too late for all that now. Unless you have the scratch to buy it and fix it yourself, it’s probably coming down. Yes, the owners should be required to pay for the demolition. In a perfect world, they’d pay for the neglect that was the proximate cause of the demolition. But in Buffalo, the basic shoring-up work needed to keep an allegedly $400,000 building standing isn’t done. It’s permitted to crumble, because there is no incentive not to.

The grassroots effort to save the building has a website here. I find it pitiful and despicable that a group of regular citizens has to raise money to help save a building privately owned by a tone-deaf owner who is wealthy and doesn’t seem to give a crap. The photo used above is taken from their website.

Buffalo Geek and I spoke about this on Friday, and his notion is that the preservationist community, which is seen as somewhat of a joke outside the Elmwood/Buffalo Rising bubble, would do itself a lot of favors if, instead of just being loud and obnoxious, it took action once in a while. His idea is that they should solicit some like-minded local charities and otherwise raise $1 million per year, and select up to five buildings to save every year. They could not only make their point, but actually do the work. How? Well, maybe the city takes the buildings by eminent domain and transfers title to the preservationist non-profit for one dollar. The work is done, and the building is marketed as a fundraising vehicle for the next round of rehabilitations. It’s one thing to hold rallies and hold up signs after it’s too late. It’s another to actually do it. Like, say, Buffalo ReUse does. There are tax credits and other incentives available for these rehabs. If the preservationists don’t know how to get them, no one does.

So, the bubbleistas hold up signs decrying the newest pair of demons, Nina and Bob Freudenheim. They allege that the couple, whose company owns the Livery Building, should be required to pay for the demolition. Yes, and they should have been required to maintain the building to code, too. They’re right, of course, but it’s too little, too late.

The allegation that the demolition of the building will ruin the “fabric of the community”? Well, I’d argue that a neighborhood and the people in it make up the fabric of a community – not buildings, no matter how old or pretty. But when the Elmwood Hotel at the corner of Elmwood and Forest was being proposed in 2005, Nina Freudenheim, who lives on tony Penhurst and (one would surmise) is a person of some means who could have afforded to do the very bare minimum to shore up the Livery building, was among the plaintiffs who sued to block the hotel. The argument given by hotel opponents also echoed the “fabric of the community” arguments we often hear when this sort of thing goes on. It’s all somewhat ironic.

The renovation of these beyond-help old buildings which teeter between demolition for safety and preservation for history, would happen far more often if we had an economy that worked. If we had more and more widespread wealth, we’d have more people willing and able to do this kind of work. If we had a growing population and more vibrant economy, the preservation of buildings like the Livery would be a foregone conclusion.

Whatever happens to the Livery, one hopes that it might be a wake-up call to loads of people. There should be protests and placards against dumb policies, laws, and politicians who help perpetuate this state of affairs in which we find ourselves. If buildings are worth saving, then action trumps reaction.

It’s not so much about the buildings – it’s about the people.

58 Responses to “The Livery”

  1. Snarky Snarkmore McSnarkamaphone June 16, 2008 at 9:40 am #

    It’s not so much about the buildings – it’s about the people.

    By that measure, the Freudenheims are total douchbags.

  2. wcp June 16, 2008 at 9:42 am #

    So I should blame the American Cancer Society for Uncle Bob’s lung cancer?

  3. Howard Goldman June 16, 2008 at 9:43 am #

    I think that one factor contributing to neglect is our expensive property taxes.

    Non-homestead property is taxed at 4.5% of assessed valuation per year.
    Think about that. If the Jersey Stable had been fixed up as nice as the rest of the neighborhood it would have a million dollars tied up in it. That in itself is not too much money or such a big deal. But think about the 4.5% x 1 million dollars per year on the new assessment. That is $45,000 in property taxes per year. That’s HUGE Buffalo! (As Fuccillo would say.)

    Some of the increased assessments can be delayed 7 years if the location qualifies for Empire Zone programs but then the full taxes kick in.

    This is why many properties are not improved even when the owners have the means.

  4. Chris Smith June 16, 2008 at 9:45 am #

    I don’t want this to devolve into a discussion about who’s to blame, it’s entirely counterproductive. When a building like this is destroyed, everyone in the City owns the failure.

    What I was getting at in my discussion with Alan is that we would be much better off if the PresCo, CFGB, and LSNF could work together to set priorities for preservation. What I mean by that is, each year, all three organizations gather around a table and establish a list of physical priorities for rehabilitation. An “endangered list” so to speak and then work towards saving those buildings. They can either work in the community to transfer ownership of these buildings to a 501c3 operated by the three groups and then work to identify buyers and developers who will steward the building back to health or they can raise the funds to contract for their rehab on their own. After an initial cash outlay, this is an idea that could fund their future efforts and allow them to multiply their efforts. It also invests the preservationist groups into the local economy and the political process, which will only have positive ripple effects.

    On another level, it reduces the chatter that these people simply tell others what to do with their property and more importantly, sets an example for proper stewardship of historic properties. As a city, we can either bemoan our lack of civic understanding about the import of historic buildings, complain about an unresponsive municipal government, or we can start proactively fixing those problems with leadership. This is an opportunity for everyone to come together and set a new agenda going forward, one set by the people, not the politicians.

    If priorities are established and a funding stream generated for renovation, these organizations would be better equipped to respond to emergency situations like the building on Jersey St. Without priorities, an organization is simply running from fire to fire. And in this instance, that organization is not equipped to put out fires, they can simply call the non-existent fire brigade to put it out.

    I fear that there is too much infighting and agenda-driven bickering in these groups to ever accomplish a concerted effort to work together, but it is something the city desperately needs.

  5. hank June 16, 2008 at 10:14 am #

    Nice Building–Fucking Shame that the owners let it rot until it was too costly to be saved. Fucking shame it now can’t be saved. The place, had it been kept up to code or at least kept from crumbling, had potential.

    Howard is likely correct in that high taxes may be part of why people let their properties go to hell. It’s not just that. Why ARE taxes so high.

    Used to be the biggest employers in Buffalo and Erie County were Bethlehem Steel,General Motors (Trico,Tonawanda Engine, Harrison Radiator Buffalo and Lockport, Buffalo Axle and gear),Ford Stamping and Assembly (assembly in the 50’s).

    NOW–The biggest employers in Buffalo and Erie County is the City of Buffalo and the County of Erie. This is what happens when the state runs off all the businesses with restrictive regulations, high corporate taxes and the Unions refuse to change with the times.

    As long as Government remains the largest employers in the region, taxes to support all those employees will remain high.

    Geek writes from his heart in his comment, and what he wrote has merit. But the cancer eating the area out is lack of private sector employment and the inability of government to work more efficiently and lighten the tax load.

  6. Starbuck June 16, 2008 at 10:24 am #

    You make some good points. I like that word “reactivist”.

    But about the idea, does this sound like a legal thing for the city to do?

    maybe the city takes the buildings by eminent domain and transfers title to the preservationist non-profit for one dollar.

    I thought eminent domain historically was allowed only for important public projects, and more recently sometimes for private sector projects after that Kelso court decision – but not just because a local government might (perhaps sensibly) decide it would prefer some non-profit org to take over a building from of an owner the government determines to be negligent.

    Is there any legal precedent for that? Would it require legislation to allow it?

  7. Buffalopundit June 16, 2008 at 10:56 am #

    @starbuck – I have no idea, and don’t have the time now to do the research. The reason I brought up eminent domain is that the argument by many is that preservation of these buildings _is_ an important public project, and is otherwise in the larger public interest. Therefore, if a property owner proves unwilling or unable to at least do the bare minimum to shore up such a structure, the government should be able to pay FMV, take the property, and then transfer it to someone who is willing to rehab it, proceeds going to support the charitable organization that rehabs it, and the city benefits by having a productive building on the tax rolls.

    It’s different from Kelo-type takings because the nexus between the takinga and the public benefit is so much closer than, e.g., just taking someone’s backyard to put up a stripmall.

  8. wcp June 16, 2008 at 11:00 am #

    Agreed CSmith. The Preservation community needs to get on the same page and be proactive. What buildings and neighborhoods are ‘must saves’and start the process for landmarking. Why the Livery isn’t landmarked is absolutely dumbfounding.

    After a Theater District demo by neglect which brought a healthy coating of egg to Masiello’s face, he proposed that all historic buildings be inspected annually. Wooops. More talk and no implementation. The frustrating part is we see the same fights over and over again.

  9. Mike Miller June 16, 2008 at 11:04 am #

    “transfers title to the preservationist non-profit for one dollar. The work is done, and the building is marketed as a fundraising vehicle for the next round of rehabilitations.”

    Where have I seen this model before? 🙂

    It works, but you have to have an awful lot of perseverance.

  10. Mike Miller June 16, 2008 at 11:07 am #

    Chris, “What I was getting at in my discussion with Alan is that we would be much better off if the PresCo, CFGB, and LSNF could work together to set priorities for preservation.”

    I was told by a very reliable source that there is an effort underway to combine these preservation organizations and others, like the Preservation Board, into one cohesive faction to devise a comprehensive preservation and demolition plan for the city. I’ve been saying this for years.

  11. Buffalo Rox June 16, 2008 at 11:57 am #

    I think you’re being a bit light on the owner by partially blaming residents/preservationists for inaction or late action.

    I don’t think the City of Buffalo has obtained an easement on a parcel of land behind the Summit Electronics building on Main St. (next to Red Jacket apartments) that it owns. Instead, city inaction with that building results in its steady march toward a wrecking ball.

    There is a brick building at the corner of Main St. and Florence (formerly location of “Bainbridge Crew” business). Part of the exterior brick work on Florence St. collapsed this winter. No visible remediation appears to have occurred on the masonry (just the typical half-hearted barricade immediately below the distressed area). City website lists Richard C. Bainbridge Jr. of Orchard Park as the owner.

    Look also at the highly visible Trico Building on Goodell. Last I saw part of the building and a lane on Goodwell was blocked off due to falling masonry. I hope UB/Buff. Niagara Medical campus renovates this building before it too becomes costly to repair.

    City seems to have enough trouble enforcing codes. While Buffalo seems to have stepped up its efforts on residential structures (both in part due to Inspections Dept. as well as by court liasons like Harvey Garrett), commercial structures still seem to get a free pass. I find it unlikely that the city will spend the money to initiate any fight against a wealthy developer via eminent domain process.

    BTW, this type of handwringing, teeth gnashing has gone on for a long time. There was a similar outrage when Permits Dept. under Masiello issued a Friday afternoon demo permit for the Harbor Hotel.

  12. Chris Smith June 16, 2008 at 12:02 pm #

    BR, so you think we should continue to function as is, with perhaps some efficiency changes to the city process? That seems to be what you’re saying. While polemics are fun to read, we’re trying to have a balanced discussion about how to prevent these things from happening in the future.

    I’d like to get beyond blame on this particular issue and look forward.

  13. Chaz June 16, 2008 at 12:43 pm #

    Buffalo Pundit,

    About your post

    Preservationists in Buffalo are “somewhat of a joke outside the Elmwood/Buffalo Rising bubble” Says who, you?

    While polemics are fun to read, we’re trying to have a balanced discussion about how to prevent these things from happening in the future.

    Your blog is somewhat of a joke outside the wnymedia.net crowd.

    Wasn’t saving Santa’s Park reactivist in nature?

    We all know how important Santa’s Park is to the fabric of Western New York.

  14. Derek J. Punaro June 16, 2008 at 12:55 pm #

    The fact is that even if BP’s proposed preservation supergroup happens and takes action on one, two, or three buildings a year, there will always be buildings four, five, six, seven, and eight out there, and there will always be people more willing to expend their energy bemoaning someone else’s lack of action than put their own towards it. I’m not saying the idea doesn’t have merit or wouldn’t help, only that it won’t get rid of the problem.

    The problem needs to be addressed at it’s roots, and that’s neglect by the owners of the property. Owners who purchase a building deemed historic by the city should be required to post a bond of at least twice the demolition cost. If the building falls to the same fate as this one, the cost to demolish it comes out of the bond, the remainder goes to a preservation grant fund then accessible by other active preservation projects.

  15. Buffalopundit June 16, 2008 at 1:12 pm #

    Chaz, thanks for reading!

  16. Chris Smith June 16, 2008 at 1:13 pm #

    Good idea Derek, I think implementing your idea gets us closer to a complete solution. Also, the idea of organizing and prioritizing aren’t seen as a total remedy, just a step in the right direction. With priorities, more things are possible.

    Also, because there is a more defined organization that is invested into wealth generation, political action, and restoration…more people will come to the cause.

    Anecdotally, I speak to a lot of people who are casually interested in preservation, or at least the idea of it, but are turned off by what they see as an elitist and fractured group of people who work on behalf of the issue. I call this the “effete demagogue effect”. Preservation in Buffalo is so tied up in an “us vs. them” mentality and dominant personalities that it is difficult for the average citizen with a job to get involved or interested if they are turned off by the people who lead the effort. I know these organizations make it their mission to spread the idea that preservation is a requirement to progress, but I wonder if they don’t get in their own way a bit.

    With the terminal, you see people who are typically not involved with preservation efforts getting excited about saving a building. I think that speaks to the level of organization and the general attitude of the group.

    While the CTRC is hyperfocused on one project, there is a lot to be learned from the model you have all put together and then applied to a wider standard.

  17. indabuff June 16, 2008 at 1:17 pm #

    Derek, good idea…it would also be nice if the city had a working db on the status of historic properties and what shape they are in…

  18. Chris Smith June 16, 2008 at 1:25 pm #

    indabuff, I think its interesting that people in this city are continually arguing about preservation and whatnot without an agreed upon standard list of what’s to be saved, what’s historic, and what’s to be prioritized.

    Sometimes, municipalities and volunteer groups need to apply some corporate organizational management techniques…it certainly seems that way to me.

    This whole city needs an organizational and technical enema.

  19. Mike Miller June 16, 2008 at 1:40 pm #

    Chris, while the typical CTRC volunteer may not have started out as avid preservationists, most of us are now. The appreciation of building quality and design is infectious and makes one aware that the majority of proposed newbuilds are just simply inferior to existing historic buildings. Let me share something with all that Cynthia Van Ness sent on to me as per my request:

    “For starters, there are studies available here, which is a .gov site, so it cannot be argued that it is partisan propaganda.

    http://www.achp.gov/economicstudies.html

    Simply stated, preservation returns more to a community because of the ratio of labor/materials costs. In a typical new-build, materials are 60% of the cost, labor is 40%. Since we are no longer a manufacturing center, those materials must be purchased from elsewhere. Sixty percent of the dollars spent on a new-build therefore leave the local economy.

    In preservation, that ratio is reversed. Labor is 60% percent of the cost and materials are 40%, so more dollars circulate in the local economy longer as workers pay rent, buy food & gas, eat at restaurants, etc. So far, there is no way to outsource carpentry to India. We *do* want our neighbors to have jobs, no?

    Plus, search far and wide and you will not find a single reservation/rehabilitation project that diminishes the value of its surroundings. On the contrary, preservation enhances property values. The same cannot be said of new construction, or so many sane, rational people wouldn’t turn into such NIMBYheads whenever “new development” is announced.

    In regard to the livery, I’d like to see someone do an embodied energy cost calculation, which ought to be factored in if you advocate hauling it away to a landfill. The greenest building is the one you already have. There’s a calculator here:

    http://www.thegreenestbuilding.org/

  20. Chris Smith June 16, 2008 at 1:58 pm #

    Mike, that’s exactly what I mean! The people you brought in weren’t preservationists at the start, but you converted them. There is a lot to learn from how the CTRC did it.

  21. Bill Altreuter June 16, 2008 at 2:05 pm #

    The Freudenheims have owned that building for over 20 years, at least, and it’s been falling down the entire time. It’d be interesting to know what the actual value of the property has been over that time– it is probably worth more now than it has been for the last quarter-century, but $400k seems kinda like wishful thinking– that kind of kale buys a lot in the City of No Illusions. If one were inclined to do something with it, I suppose developing it for lofts or condos would be the thing to do, and renovating the existing structure for that purpose would be the most expensive way to go about it. Until recently it wouldn’t have made any sense to have developed it at all– this is becoming a chic neighborhood, but I still wouldn’t keep my bicycle locked outside overnight.

    It would also be interesting to hear the Freudenheims’ account of what happened here. How did they acquire the property? Why didn’t they do anything with it?

  22. Mike Miller June 16, 2008 at 2:07 pm #

    Thanks Chris, I knew that’s what you meant. I don’t really think any one person converted anyone, as much as just the raw appreciation (and I DO mean RAW,as it applies to the terminal) of sound building practices of old and of great and appealing design. The building makes its own converts!

    I’m hoping that this merged preservation group organizes very soon. I’ve offered my participation in this cause to the powers that be. I think that it’s not only the CTRC that this group can get syngergies from, but also the successes at Graycliff and the Darwin Martin House as well.

  23. Prodigal Son June 16, 2008 at 2:23 pm #

    Mike – I have heard the same thing, about the combining of boards and efforts. It will be a good thing, if it happens. Buffalo really isn’t that big, and often turf battles take over, even when everyone should really be on the same page.

    Chris – I think its interesting that you refer to the CTRC as hyperfocused. I would simply call them focused, and much of the rest of the preservation community is off in the wind floating from idea to idea.

    I agree with your point, proposal, and solution. Buy the buildings in trouble, a couple every year. Various groups have various priority lists. Donors have their interests. And often, a larger group only gets involved when its too late.

    I was ripped on BRO for suggesting that anyone that wants to get involved in preservation should, instead of yelling and screaming, buy a building (historic buildings are cheap in Buffalo), get to work, and see how easy it is (hear: sarcasm). But I think that’s what absolutely needs to happen. The successful preservation projects were PURCHASED by a group that took responsibility for them. Lawsuits stall demolition, but do not fix buildings. People fix buildings, when they FOCUS on one. One building has enough headaches for anyone.

  24. Colin June 16, 2008 at 2:35 pm #

    This discussion has been way better than I imagined it’d be. A few points:

    1. I wish people wouldn’t be so casual about claiming that “it’s doomed” or whatever. If we’re ever going to start saving these places, the default attitude has to be that “it’s salvageable.”

    2. I’d love to see the kind of coordination between preservation groups that’s suggested here. This is my first real involvement in the issue, but it seems that the “preservationists” have little organizational muscle behind them.

    3. I’d also like to stress that protesting, picketing and such is an example of taking action. If “taking action” is limited to raising huge sums of money and buying property, then most folks are essentially frozen out of taking action.

  25. Mike Miller June 16, 2008 at 2:42 pm #

    Colin, “I’d love to see the kind of coordination between preservation groups that’s suggested here. This is my first real involvement in the issue, but it seems that the “preservationists” have little organizational muscle behind them.”

    That’s exactly why there’s talk of merging the individual groups, because there is no cohesive plan or muscle or organization. We all agree about that. The tough part will be in getting these organizations agree about the “plan”.

  26. Buffalopundit June 16, 2008 at 3:03 pm #

    Chris – I think its interesting that you refer to the CTRC as hyperfocused. I would simply call them focused, and much of the rest of the preservation community is off in the wind floating from idea to idea.

    FTW

  27. Buffalo Rox June 16, 2008 at 3:03 pm #

    Chris,

    I don’t see anything wrong with assigning accountability. It helps to figure out how to address a problem.

    This “super” preservation group may have to be started from scratch rather than combining existing groups. There is an independent board that helps allocate any funds from Erie County among the culturals. Perhaps the same general idea could be used to evaluate and determine how to allocate resources among preservation initiatives (ultimately access to $$ may be what creates a strong preservation body rather than it being based on the strongest/loudest personality). CTRC is not a great example because it is project specific. There are fewer issues that would arise (e.g., people who join CRTC aren’t about to divert funds/energy from the CT to save the Summit Electronics building).

    I like Derek’s idea as a start. Perhaps rather than just demolition, the “bond” could be tapped for building stabilization (roofing and support) in addition to demolition. I’m not sure how it would work in practice since this seems to be more of a type of insurance (with the preservation group being named as additional insured) rather than a performance bond. Some insurance guru would need to weigh-in on what type of instruments are available and the associated premium. Also, the ability to impose this requirement on existing property owners would seem to be critical but raises a question of whether it can legally be done.

    BR

  28. mike hudson June 16, 2008 at 3:31 pm #

    chaz…i don’t consider myself part of the “wnymedia crowd.” in fact i find much of what they do contemptible, tell them so often, and can count of smith calling me an asshole in return, the wit.

    however, alan is exactly right when he says that the “preservationists” are a joke. they’ve wanted to “preserve” vacant lots so that faux historical buildings might be erected where real historic buildings used to be. that is insane. they and the lawyers who love them take property owners into court for having the audactity to do things with/to their own property. in greater buffalo, there must be 10,000 crumbling buildings dating from the last half of the 19th century and early 20th century but the preservationists always wait until something like this happens or someone announces plans to expand their business on their own property or sen. al says he’s going to tear down an unimportant building he owns dating from 1901 that has already been extensively altered and, in fact, isn’t even on the same ground it was on when it allegedly did the thing that made it historically important.

    conversely, when the trustees of the albright-knox museum looted $120 million worth of historic treasures that had been left to the people of buffalo and sold them – mostly to private collectors — none of the preservationists said a word. in fact, some of the highest profile presies lobbied on behalf of the sale! the collection of ancient art, they said was worth a pittance, $17 million or so. the city got sandbagged while you jackoffs were worrying about someone putting a sidewalk awning up in front of their building.

    thinking about it for the time it’s taken me to type this, however, has changed my mind. you people can’t be a joke, as it is hardly funny to make people become nauseous everytime you poke your pointy little heads above ground.

  29. spike June 16, 2008 at 4:20 pm #

    pay no attention to hudson, he cant help it, he is trying to write nice things about our new mayor in his paper and its eating him up. dyster hires Fran Iuseless and not a word is said in the paper. is the hiring of the chef’s far behind? will that be enough to push mikey over the edge? the vince stories are old news and everyone is sick of reading about how great the mob was in its time. mike, they want to also tear down the buggy whip factory please help the ida to give them a tax break.

  30. STEEL June 16, 2008 at 5:30 pm #

    To be fair the “Preservationists” are not for the most part (or maybe not at all) professional preservationists. They have regular lives and jobs that keep them busy. They take up the cause of preserving NWY’s valuable heritage using the means they have necessary. Individuals among them may be misguided in isolated cases but their efforts have prevented WNY form making some horrendous mistakes.

    It is short sited to lay blame on these efforts as a cause for stagnation in WNY. It is not fair to ask this group of mostly volunteers to be on top of every historic disaster waiting to happen in Buffalo. It is wrong to label this a cabal of sorts which is planning the next project to block or which owner to pester. Without concerned citizens working on their own to affect change we would:

    Have a highway running through the south edge of Allentown
    might have no Allentown

    possibly not even have an Allentown

    have no ECC City College Building

    have No Guaranty Building

    have no Web Building

    have no Martin House

    have no Granite Works

    The list goes on and on. The preservation community (an you need to use that term loosely) is made up of all kinds of people who want the retain the best of the city and improve from there. They understand the tragedy of the unnecessary loss of a building like the livery but don’t have the time to dedicate their lives to saving these buildings.

  31. Chris Smith June 16, 2008 at 8:15 pm #

    Steel, clearly you didn’t really read or comprehend the original post or the comments that I have been driving. But, thanks for your contribution.

  32. eliz June 16, 2008 at 9:52 pm #

    While I agree that in some cases a consolidation of efforts might be called for, and I understand the logic and common sense of a lot of the major points being made here, I also think that a good portion of the post and its comments, though well-intentioned, betrays considerable ignorance of what preservation groups, as fractured as they appear to you, have actually done in Buffalo. There has been plenty of money raised, ordinances passed, and advocacy for a better policies and procedures. I’m sorry that you guys don’t seem to know about a lot of it.

    Anyway, the fact is that a lot of people in this town are passionate about historic preservation and have won a lot of battles on its behalf. You may not like the way they go about it and you may wish they cared about the big picture more, but this is their passion and I for one am grateful for it.

  33. John June 16, 2008 at 11:03 pm #

    FYI all you douchbags who are calling the Freudenheim’s douchbags, are you so ignorant that you have to picket like little children by an old man’s place of work? Is that what makes you happy? A part of a building collapes after a man told the Freudenheims that their building was in good shape? Did you know that Robert Freudenheim was going to preserve the building and fix it before the incident?

    For all of you who jump to conclusions thinking that this older couple are so bad, take a minute to think. Why would these elderly people want to own a building and not care for it? They are more than fine financially. They care about the building. The only reason they wanted the building down was because they didn’t want to start nonsense between the obnoxious residents and them.

    They want to live in peace, and they should. So why don’t all you motherfuckers shut the fuck up and apoligize. Grow the fuck up…it’s going to work itself out, but only if you’re peaceful about it.

  34. STEEL June 16, 2008 at 11:04 pm #

    Actually Chris Smith I have read and comprehended every bit of the story and the comments. I also agree with most of what has been said. I am not sure what you are “driving” but there is no need to start an argument where there is none.

    My point, since you clearly did not comprehend what I wrote, is that the preservationists are not some vast conspiracy to save every building and halt all development in Buffalo. They are too often referred to as a collective group when often they are just a group of neighbors who are concerned enough to take a stand on something such as in the case of this building.

  35. John June 16, 2008 at 11:06 pm #

    Why don’t you all grow up and take a step back before you attack the Freudenheims. Why would they want THEIR building to fall? Why would they want to have to take blame for a building to fall down? They didn’t. They were told that the building was in propper form and would be okay when someone came in a matter of days before. They were planning on fixing up a part of the building that wasn’t doing so well. THey were going to invest their own money into it. So why don’t you step back before you call them douchbags and look at yourself, creating websites and blogs to harass an elderly man? You are all pathetic. Nothing’s going to get solved if you act like this.

    It’s funny…I thought that this town was filled with smart intellectuals but it’s only filled with bombarding, harassing, hypocrits. Wake up and smell the coffee.

  36. John June 16, 2008 at 11:09 pm #

    Freudenheim has a real heart for the building and if he knew that this was going to happen, he definitely would have taken action.

    He is trying to get it sold for a large portion of money simply because it means so much to him and he thinks it is worth more than he is asking for it. He cares. Why don’t you all try to care instead of being harassing and threatening? Oh wait, that’s expected of you.

  37. Eisenbart June 16, 2008 at 11:27 pm #

    I took pictures of this building not 4 weeks ago when I went for a walk. I seen the for sale sign, and peeked in the garage and their was cars parked there. I looked up the price later and at that asking price I figured there must be pretty nice apartments due to the expensive cars I seen parked inside.

    Never ever would have figured the building would be caving in on itself at this point.

  38. Eisenbart June 16, 2008 at 11:42 pm #

    there… damn it

  39. Tuco June 17, 2008 at 12:03 am #

    Are the preservationists who are outside picketing the unfortunate but still inevitable demise of this building paying for the lodging of all the families still evacuated from homes around the property?

  40. mike hudson June 17, 2008 at 3:00 am #

    john…where in god’s mane did you get the impression that buffalo was filled with “smart intellectuals”?

  41. mike hudson June 17, 2008 at 3:05 am #

    and spike, if i find out dyster’s on the take like anello, you’ll be the first to know. the announcement of fran iusi’s hiring, as you know, was made today, after our paper had already been put to bed. obviously i didn’t write about something that hadn’t happened yet. and i am sorry if you don’t think an fbi raid on the county board of elections constitutes “news.” finally, why don’t you blow me?

  42. John June 17, 2008 at 9:00 am #

    well for u all to call this couple frauds or douches is rediculous. It’d be more effective just shutting ur mouths and being civil. I mean pickets!?? How gay

    Ya and buffalos filled w obnoxious ppl who think they’re sooooo strong. Pooh were all scared. Ha

  43. hank June 17, 2008 at 10:01 am #

    Hudson writes:
    finally, why don’t you blow me?

    Ah, the brotherly banter that makes this blog so obviously a Buffalo NY registered product.

    I’m lovin’ it!!

  44. Snarky Snarkmore McSnarkamaphone June 17, 2008 at 10:07 am #

    Unless and until you detail all the extraordinary financial and/or physical efforts this extremely affluent “old man” has put into keeping the building from falling apart while he listed at at a patently ridiculous asking price (just take a look at the other properties in the area listed at 400k +) and ignored the law, I stand by my opinion. He’s a douchebag. The fate other other buildings he owns or owned underscores this point of view.

    Which is why, Chris, your proposal is interesting and worthy of more discussion, but does in no way obviate the need to cast blame. All the legal provisions to prevent this from happening are in fact in place; they simply weren’t adhered to. This means the City is to blame for in no way preventing the behavior of a douchebag- an individual who, were not not part of the blueblood connected crowd raping this city, would be imprisoned by now.

  45. reflip June 17, 2008 at 10:16 am #

    “If I let the building fall apart and then had it demolished, it was only because I loved it so much.”
    – Bob “OJ” Freudenheim

  46. john June 17, 2008 at 10:30 am #

    You dont hve money to keep it. He doesnt. Shut up and grow up. He loved the builing but there’s nothing else he can do! Its the city not him. Learn your facts and dont call him a douch. And FYI any threats the police is in stadby. Its not his fault so just shut the fuck up and go build your own buildings. Oh wait or dildos

  47. Snarky Snarkmore McSnarkamaphone June 17, 2008 at 10:50 am #

    ok john ill sht up, cuz really i cant even figure out what your trying to say. Maybe lern to type or edit or dildos.

  48. Haterade June 17, 2008 at 10:52 am #

    I think I’ve found a new favorite poster !

    Hank – OUT

    John “the Fruedenheim Defender” – IN

  49. Chris Smith June 17, 2008 at 11:04 am #

    I’m not claiming that preservationist groups are responsible for the failure to save every building in Buffalo. Nor am I claiming that there haven’t been significant contributions from the preservation community, that’s not the point.

    We have a vacuum of leadership in Buffalo that has led us to where we are today. I am suggesting that instead of laying blame on specific interests, politicians, owners, developers, or activists we design a plan in which we ALL own the issue of preservation in this city. Of course, there are those who wish to cast this discussion as a blame game or whatever, it isn’t. It’s about getting our collective shit organized in this town.

  50. Chris Crocker June 17, 2008 at 11:47 am #

    Leave Freudy alone ! LEAVE HIM ALONE !

  51. Bill Altreuter June 17, 2008 at 1:48 pm #

    Notwithstanding the rapid degeneration of this comment string (and what’s up with that?) I thought I’d mention that I did a little digging and learned that about 20 years ago the Freudenheim’s planned on converting the building into apartments or condos. They were frustrated in this when the neighbors objected and got the city to put the kibosh on the project. (Parking was what the basis for the kvetching was.)

    The Freudenheim’s have been stuck with this white elephant ever since.

  52. Buffalopundit June 17, 2008 at 2:13 pm #

    @Bill Altreuter – if that’s true, then it seems as if the neighbors are somewhat estopped from complaining now.

  53. Colin June 17, 2008 at 2:56 pm #

    20 years ago, I was 12. I don’t think anything that happened then stops me from doing anything.

    In the interim, Freudenheim has let the building rot and refused to sell it. My realtor had another client who made an offer on the building, but he wouldn’t budge from his price. He wasn’t “stuck with” anything. This situation is the result of his choices.

  54. reflip June 17, 2008 at 3:25 pm #

    Let me get this straight. I’m supposed to believe that:

    20 years ago the neighbors were so all-powerful that they could get the City to place a kibosh on a proposed project.

    Now the neighbors are so impotent that the City for years ignores their pleas to do something about this derelict building and irresponsible property-owner until the building literally comes crashing down around them.

    Doesn’t add up.

    It also leads me to believe that the (powerful, influential) neighbors of 20 years ago are gone and the new neighbors had nothing to do with the kibosh.

    Hence, they have every right to be pissed.

    What about that guy who recently bought a FLW house and had plans to turn it into a rental property but was stopped by the neighbors. Does he now have the right to let the house decay and crumble for the next 20 years out of spite? Would that too be considered “poetic justice” as you are advocating here?

  55. spike June 17, 2008 at 4:43 pm #

    hudson the only thing that sucks are your sources, maybe you should stop hanging out at the has-been greasy italian tavern and you would of known about fran a week ago. look in your own past issues at all the wonderfull things you wrote about her before, but now shes working for bruce’s pal and your afraid to say anything bad. you should write a book about her brother, he was way more interesting than your old mob boss stories.

  56. john June 18, 2008 at 8:15 am #

    get over it. Your signs are just abusive and you better wwatch out.

    The bldgs doneweee get over it

  57. Kim June 18, 2008 at 11:49 am #

    I find it interesting and rather disappointing that the activist website mentions nothing about the history of the building; when was it used, for what purpose, by whom etc.

    It would help causes like this one if historical references were revealed and highlighted once in a while.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Buffalo Pundit » Blog Archive » The Doctrine of Estoppel - June 17, 2008

    […] a follow-up on the Livery Building post, Bill Altreuter posts a comment: Notwithstanding the rapid degeneration of this comment […]

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