This emergency demolition was prompted by the owners of the neighboring building when about two dozen face bricks fell from the eastern façade and onto their roof. In typical City of Buffalo fashion, the demolition came as a reaction to not knowing what else to do. Rather than hiring a mason for likely a day’s work to repair the affected sections, the City is footing the bill for a $320,000 demolition.
The Apollo Demolition company began staging the site this past Friday and began the demolition early Saturday morning. Some of the demo crew admitted that the building was very structurally sound and were surprised it was coming down.
Demolitions like this are not part of some grand plan for shrinking the City, but rather a reaction to a difficult problem. As Buffalo continues to lose population, more and more of our cultural and architectural heritage will pile up at the landfill. There is no comprehensive or strategic plan for the demolition of city-owned properties. It is an overwhelming problem with no easy solutions, but it has to start somewhere.
Although it may be a daunting task, there needs to be swift and immediate action, starting by documenting the existing conditions of each city-owned property. The survey work must encompass the entire city to ensure that those buildings which have the greatest potential for rehab or reuse are pushed to the bottom of the demolition list. It should then be followed by actively advertising these properties for sale.
Theoretically, all city-owned properties are available for purchase, but the lack of advertising and a complete list results in buildings like the Brecker staying off the radar until it’s too late. Many individuals and developers have encountered great difficulty at City Hall when trying to purchase some of the properties. The entire process needs to be overhauled and streamlined if the City ever hopes to get some of their properties rehabbed, redeveloped, and put back on the tax rolls.
To see the entire Flickr set of the Brecker Building click here. Below is a five minute video of the demolition which has been cut down from over an hour. You'll want to watch it all the way through, the end is the best part.