BUFFALO, N.Y. — Tuesday night in Buffalo Common Council chambers was a showdown between a city and a developer with big dreams.
The city says that Darryl Carr has been neglecting 110 & 118 South Park Ave for over a decade.
Carr says he's had a demolition permit for years, but the city is stalling with approval and the case is tied up in housing court.
The city announced eminent domain proceedings in September and Fillmore District councilman Mitch Nowakowski has been leading the effort in the council.
"Mr. Carr's is a farce," Nowakowski said in the hearing. "It's a charade that has been played out in the courts for over a decade, quite frankly, I'm sick and tired of it."
Buffalo's Permits & Inspections Commissioner Catherine Amdur laid out, what the city calls, neglect of the property.
"There's loose bricks everywhere deteriorated masonry cracked cornices, broken windows and doors, missing windows, graffiti, partial collapses of the building," Amdur said. "These buildings have been in housing court for almost 14 years and there has been no significant effort to stabilize or maintain them."
Amdur says the eminent domain is necessary because the city is out of options.
"We're out of enforcement techniques here we're out of our mechanisms and these blighted conditions are worsening," Amdur said.
Carr, on the other hand, lambasted the city for trying to take his properties.
"The city's announcement to attend to inquire or South Park Avenue properties to transfer them to some unidentified competing developer for an unspecified development, thereby destroying my proposed project is as outrageous as it is ironic," Carr said during the hearing.
Carr is proposing the 55-story "Unity Tower" containing nearly 500 luxury apartment units and retail space.
"The Unity tower project will dramatically transform the cobblestone district while remaining true to its historic district character and to a degree that could not be achieved by others," Carr said at the hearing.
Carr told 2 On Your Side in December that he hasn't developed a project to that scale on his own before, but alluded that his partners have.
Carr would not disclose his partners in the project to WGRZ.
The nearly 90-minut public hearing had several back and forth moments.
Councilmen Rivera and Wyatt questioned the city about the housing court hearings taking so long. The city says the properties have been in housing court since 2008.
"Failure to act for 14 years to me, somebody should be held accountable for that," Councilman Rivera said. "I go to housing court a couple times a week, and it's frustrating the delays, but 14 years of delays, something is wrong with the system."
Even though he questioned the housing court issues, Councilman Wyatt at one point was very blunt about his feelings towards the city moving forward with an eminent domain procedure.
"I think it's almost un-American to take someone's property," Wyatt said.
By the end of the meeting, however, Wyatt supported Nowakowski's desire to move forward with eminent domain.
"It seems as though our time is being wasted right now because we have someone who was I thought bringing something in earnest that wanted to do something," Wyatt said.
Commissioner Amdur pointed out that Carr applied for permits for the Unity Tower project in 2016, 2018 and on January 6th, 2023. Several times, the Commissioner said, Carr did not pay the nominal $50 application fee.
"You come and meet, and then you don't pay to pay the fee?" Wyatt asked. "That's not trying to get something done that's trying to put something off."
Now that the required eminent domain public hearing has come and gone the city will conduct an environmental study of the properties. Additionally, once that study is complete, the Council will vote on an eminent domain resolution which would need to be approved by a judge before the city obtained the property.