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ADM submits emergency demolition plans for Great Northern Grain Elevator

The company cited 'the safety of the public, our neighbors, and our employees' in making the decision.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The company that owns the Great Northern Grain Elevator, which was damaged by Saturday's high winds, has begun demolition plans.

An ADM spokesperson on Wednesday evening told 2 On Your Side that "we have submitted an emergency demolition application to the City."

"In it, we share our commitment to dismantle the structure in a prompt, responsible, and safe manner and look for ways to preserve the legacy of the structure, such as donating artifacts to a local museum."

The company cited "the safety of the public, our neighbors, and our employees" in coming to its decision.

In the demolition application, ADM cites multiple reports dating back to 2014 that suggest the building isn't structurally sound. ADM also says they have invested $100,000 between 2003 and 2019 for external building maintenance. 

Additionally, a report on the damage to the Great Northern Elevator on December 12 of this year by local engineer John Schenne indicates "the structure was not designed or built to withstand what are now understood to be the expected wind loads in its location."

City of Buffalo Preservation Board Chair Gwen Howard, however, told 2 On Your Side that the continued degradation of the Great Northern Elevator has been on their watch. 

"The claim that they were excellent stewards by spending in excess of $100,000 over a 17-year period is not a claim to be proud of," Howard told WGRZ. "That equates to $5882.35 per year spent on maintenance."

Howard also said the external maintenance was virtually nonexistent by their own admission. 

"To reward them for their admitted neglect does a disservice to every citizen of Buffalo," Howard said.

2 On Your Side reached out to  U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, who expressed support for repairing the building earlier in the week. 

WGRZ also reached out to officials from the City of Buffalo to find out how soon the application could be approved or denied. 

A spokesperson for the city said that the "commissioner of Permits & Inspections is reviewing the report and also the drove inspection video to assess the extent of the damage from the weekend storm." 

ADM's statement read, in full:

The elevator structure next to our flour mill in Buffalo, New York, was built more than 120 years ago and has not been operational for decades. We understand and appreciate the community’s interest in it and have spent thousands of dollars repairing and maintaining it throughout the years. 

The structure suffered substantial and extensive damage from the wind and storms over the weekend and now poses significant safety concerns on-site and at adjacent properties and roadways. Our primary concern is always the safety of the public, our neighbors, and our employees. Under the circumstances, we have submitted an emergency demolition application to the City. In it, we share our commitment to dismantle the structure in a prompt, responsible and safe manner and look for ways to preserve the legacy of the structure, such as donating artifacts to a local museum. A copy of the application is attached for your reference.

We appreciate the support and understanding of the local community as we prioritize colleague and community safety in this difficult decision-making process.

A copy of the application for demolition is posted below:

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