Buffalo’s Preservation Board on Thursday voted to designate the Larkin District a city landmark, a move prompted by what appeared to be demolition activity around a historic powerhouse.
The landmark designation now rests in the hands of the Common Council, which will hold a public hearing and vote in the coming weeks. Such a designation would make demolition of buildings there more difficult.
The industrial district, southeast of downtown, includes six buildings that were constructed between 1890 and 1912, as well as a parking lot that until 1950 was the site of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Administration Building.
The revitalized area now draws thousands of white-collar workers during the day and has become a place for recreation in the evenings, offering food and music.
The apparent removal of bricks from the powerhouse, at 635 Seneca St., prompted the city to issue a stop work order in late April. Peter Krog Sr., a co-owner of the building, said then that he would like to preserve the building and redevelop it as apartments but was not sure if that was feasible.
Krog, who is redeveloping the Trico building, could not be reached to comment Thursday.
Howard Zemsky, managing partner of Larkin Development Group, began the revitalization of the Larkin District 12 years ago. Zemsky was the only speaker at Thursday’s hearing, during which he “urgently and enthusiastically” supported the landmark designation.
More people work in the former Larkin Company buildings today than when the Larkin Company was at peak employment, Zemsky said. He called preservation of historic buildings a force for economic growth.
“I think if this district becomes a designated landmark it will help preserve the buildings intact for many generations to come,” he said.
“We’ve seen that not everybody shares the sense of stewardship that these buildings deserve, and I think landmarking them helps assure that people can’t be arbitrary or short-sighted with respect to how they treat these buildings,” he said.
The removal of bricks at the powerhouse was the reason the Preservation Board acted quickly to landmark the Larkin District, said Chairman Paul McDonnell.
No one spoke in opposition to the landmark designation at Thursday’s meeting. Opponents of landmarking typically take their concerns to the Common Council.