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City of Buffalo initiates eminent domain proceedings for 2 Cobblestone District buildings

The two Cobblestone District buildings date back to the mid-1800s, and the City of Buffalo has been at odds with the owner for over a decade.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — There aren't many firsts for Mayor Byron Brown's administration after five terms in office. However, on Tuesday the mayor's office initiated an eminent domain proceeding against a city property owner for the first time since taking office.

The common council passed a resolution calling for a public hearing regarding the properties at 110 and 118 South Park Ave. 

 "You have speculators that come in and they sit on these buildings until they fall apart," said councilmember David Rivera. "Then they say we have to demolish them."

The properties are owned by Darryl Carr, according to paperwork released by the common council. 

"For 12 years, the city has employed every tool at its disposal to make the property safe to the surrounding area, only to meet resistance at every turn from the current owner," said councilmember Mitch Nowakowski during the council meeting on Sept. 20. 

According to documents obtained by 2 On Your Side, the two properties have 19 building violations as of February 2022. Carr had been in housing court multiple times since taking ownership of the building. 

"The city is taking a leap, a pretty bold leap that they haven't taken before in order to protect these properties," said Gwen Howard, chair of the Preservation Board. 

"It's really a good move on their part."

Currently, the two buildings are surrounded by scaffolding to protect pedestrians from falling debris. Several sections of the roof for the buildings have collapsed. While most of the windows are boarded up, several are still open and exposed to the elements. Standing water and vegetation can be seen on the rooftops from the adjacent parking garage for the KeyBank Center. Several trees have also begun growing on the rooftops of the buildings. 

A woodchuck has also taken up residence in the basement of 118 South Park Ave. It briefly came out while 2 On Your Side was gathering video footage at the scene, and eventually wandered back into the large hole in the foundation. 

"There's been a lot of debate about buildings in our community being in danger of falling in imminent danger of falling," Howard said. 

"This is definitely one that needs some TLC and some assistance, and I'm glad to see the city stepping in, rather than just issuing a demolition permit for it."

A source told WGRZ that it's possible a ruling on the eminent domain proceeding could be handed out by the end of the year. If the city is successful in taking over this property, a source said that a public bidding process would take place to purchase the property from the city. 

WGRZ tried contacting Carr by phone but did not receive a response. 

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