Judge Nowak fines owner of Vernor
March 7, 2005
City Court Judge Henry Nowak has issued a $51,000 fine to the owner of a dilapidated
building at 752 Main St.
Nowak convicted Tech Associates, headed by David Shifrin of Cleveland, on 35 counts,and
enforced the maximum sentence of $1,500 on 34 of them.
"It was a classic case of demolition by neglect," Nowak said from the
The building in Buffalo's Theater District began as a downtown salesroom for Pierce-Arrow
motor cars, and later was home to Vernor's Ginger Ale. It has been empty for decades,
its deteriorating condition advanced by a large hole in the roof.
Although the building had been cited several times for code violations since the
early 1990s, Tech Associates had avoided making a single improvement or paying a
fine. Shifrin has contended he attempted, without success, to develop the building
a half-dozen times in the past 20 years.
Schmidt Building razed; Vernor
spared for now
By Sharon Linstedt
Excerpt from an
article published in the February 18, 2004 Buffalo News
The Schmidt Building is history, while
the Vernor Building has received a temporary reprieve from the wrecking ball, courtesy
of a Buffalo Housing Court ruling.
The fate of the two derelict structures, located side by side at
736 and 756 Main St. in the Theater District, has been a topic of interest for city
inspectors, the buildings' owners and preservationists for nearly a decade.
City Court Judge Henry J. Nowak has partially ended the long debate by granting owner
Alex Schmidt's request for demolition.
The fate of the Vernor Building is less clear. While Nowak barred emergency demolition
of the former Pierce
Arrow automobile showroom, he raised serious questions
about its prospects for rehabilitation. "While there was insufficient evidence
that the building is in imminent danger of collapse ... neither rehabilitation of
the building, nor facade preservation, would be appropriate," the judge wrote
in his decision.
Nowak ordered Teck Associates of Cleveland, the building's owner, to work with the
Buffalo Preservation Board toward an exemption to historic preservation rules to
allow demolition. The judge noted that the preservation board not only has the power
to grant the razing, but also can require that historical elements of the Vernor
Building be used in any development on the site.
Preservation Board President John Laping said it's likely the panel would grant the
demolition waiver, given what he called the "God awful" condition of the
building. "It makes me very angry to be at this point." Laping said of
the likely demolition.
[Vernor Building owner] David Shifrin is the former owner of Teck
Theater, which had been located on the north side of the Schmidt Building. The bulk
of that structure was demolished in the early 1980s, and its lobby and marquee were
razed in 1992.