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Eminent domain procedure public hearings set for two Cobblestone District buildings

Even though a public hearing will be the next phase in an eminent domain procedure for two cobblestone district buildings, but the owner has big plans for the site.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A public hearing will be held on January 10th, 2023 at Buffalo City Hall as it is the next phase in an eminent domain procedure for two Cobblestone District buildings. 

Mayor Brown, for the first time in his five terms as mayor, announced the eminent domain procedure in September. 

Today, the common council announced the public hearing as the next phase in the procedure. 

"The city is continuing a steady and measured pursuit of the eminent domain procedure law in order to make a final decision to acquire these structures by eminent domain," said Fillmore District councilmember Mitch Nowakowski. 

Nowakowski says he has been following progress at these two properties before he took office in 2019.  

"This case has been in housing courts since 2010," Nowakowski said. "I've been following this in the district for many years."

Nowakowski supports the eminent domain procedure because the current owner, Darryl Carr, has been trying to demolish the building since he purchased it. 

"We're dealing with a very unscrupulous landlord, who has done nothing on these properties for decades," Nowakowski said. "It's time to come up with something different." 

Carr, however, feels different about the situation. 

"I can't quite understand Mitch Nowakowski," Carr told 2 On Your Side over the phone. "Without any kind of correspondence with me, he went ahead and proposed his eminent domain on his own."

Carr says he understand that the two buildings were part of the Cobblestone historic district when he purchased them, but doesn't believe the buildings can be saved. 

"We have engineering reports," Carr said. "The city never came up with their own reports saying that the buildings were salvageable."

WGRZ has reached out to the city to verify Carr's claim. 

Additionally, Carr feels he's being singled out because in the past other Cobblestone buildings were demolished. 

"They deemed it a district because they demolished all the other buildings and wanted to keep something after the arena was built," Carr said. 

While the buildings have sat empty for decades, Carr did board up the windows and had scaffolding installed to protect sidewalks from any falling debris. 

But Carr has long had big plans for the site. Tall plans as well. 

"A 55 story, 490 unit building," Carr said. "Which would house condominiums some retail space, and underground parking."

"Unity Tower" as Carr called it, has its own website, and renderings. Carr didn't confirm who his partners were in the project, but did say financing would flow in once 110 & 118 South Park Ave were demolished. 

Nowakowski says Carr hasn't came forward with a formal presentation to the city. 

"What he's proposing is completely against the green code and preservation laws," Nowakowski said. "We can see through that and see through that nonsense and cut through it and come up with something that residents really want to see."

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