Horror or Monument? Conservationists fight to save grain elevator in Buffalo


In mid-January, Mayor Brown approved the permit over objections from federal and state lawmakers and local conservationists. But almost immediately, a state appeals judge granted the conservatives a temporary restraining order to stop the demolition. The judge has scheduled a hearing on the matter for this week.

This is not the first time the Great Northern has faced oblivion; its current owner had previously applied for permission to demolish it, as had its former owner, Pillsbury.

Among the grain elevator’s supporters is the Buffalo City Council, which recently passed a resolution asking Archer Daniels to “explore options to work with or sell the property” rather than demolish it.

For his part, Mr. Brown, a fifth-term Democrat who won re-election in a contentious election campaign last fall, said he favored keeping the grain elevator, but that he would not was not ready to stop the demolition.

Conservationists have accused Archer Daniels of “negligent demolition”, essentially leaving the Far North to rot and bear the brunt of weather and lack of maintenance. The building – which rises some 15 stories – is surrounded by a chain-link fence, with shattered windows creasing its elongated, rusty cupola on the roof.

At least two developers have expressed interest in redeveloping the structure, which sits on a spit of land bordered by the Buffalo River, the meandering east-west river that runs through a nearby area still known as Elevator Alley. flanked by other imposing silos. Ideas for residential developments and art institutions have been floated by proponents of its preservation, or perhaps an attic museum, a possible complement to the silo tours some companies are already offering.

In mid-January, a Buffalo-active Washington, D.C. developer, Douglas Jemal, offered Archer Daniels $100,000 to repair the hole in the building’s north wall, a proposal that the company declined.


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