Illegal demolition activity at Larkin Powerhouse; Contractors say plan is to "implode" building within month. Campaign moves to stop work, designate entire area "Larkin Historic District
Members of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture have witnessed and documented illegal demolition activity at a significant Buffalo landmark: the R.J. Reidpath-designed powerhouse. A section of brick wall is being removed by contractors working on behalf of the building's owner, developer Peter Krog. Contractors said the building would be demolished "in a month." Piles of bricks and a wrapped pallet of bricks were photographed by The Campaign. A query at the Department of Inspections revealed no permit for the demolition work, nor applications filed for the building as a whole. The Buffalo Preservation Board, which must review all demolition applications, has also not received any notice of such an application.
Campaign Executive Director Tim Tielman expects to give the City of Buffalo Preservation Board a nomination form to designate the powerhouse and all the Larkin Company buildings as a local historic district. Once accepted, the Board could vote as early as tomorrow (April 24) to schedule a public hearing.
"It is unfortunate and outrageous that a building owner seeking to exploit the historic cachet of the Larkin Company (Krog and partners also own the adjacent 701 Seneca Street, which they call the "Larkin Center of Commerce") would destroy part of the nation's legacy for a parking lot," Tielman said. A Larkin Historic District would give long overdue formal recognition and protection to one of America's most importa"nt industrial complexes. It would also offer the maximum protection for the endangered powerhouse."
Krog's company is enjoying the fruits of other public and private investments in "Larkinville." M&T Bank recently leased a large block of space, and Krog has been building and repaving parking lots in the area.
"There is always a creative solution to parking issues that is short of demolition, and if Krog can't develop the building, I am sure there are other developers out there who would be happy to do so," says Tielman. We are determined to fight very hard to save the powerhouse, and I am sure the public will agree we cannot lose this building."
Frank Lloyd Wright's Larkin Administration Building, across the street from the powerhouse, was demolished in 1950. Krog currently owns the site and operates it as a parking lot.
Buffalo Department of Permits and Inspection Services Commissioner James Comerford, reached by The Campaign on Wednesday afternoon, vowed to send an inspector to the site as soon as possible.