Mark Sommer, The Buffalo News
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Mark Sommer

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I have worked at the Buffalo News as an enterprise reporter, and as arts editor, for the past 17 years.

The recent improvements on Ohio Street happened without any action involving a dilapidated complex on the corner of Chicago Street. That's about to change. Ellicott Development, which owns several properties in and around the former E.&B. Holmes Machine Company building, has reached an agreement to buy the brick structure and put in apartments, along with some re…

Mistaking fame for happiness, it's been shown time and again, is a dangerous thing. It's a lesson boxer Chuck Wepner -- known as the "Bayonne Bleeder" for his tendency to cut easily in the ring -- learns the hard way in "Chuck." The film is based loosely on the scrappy, middle-of-the-road fighter whose claim to fame was fighting Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight title in…

Feb. 11, 1936 - May 10, 2017 Dr. Anthony M. Yurchak, who worked for over 40 years at Buffalo Amherst Allergy Associates as an allergist and immunologist, co-authored many research papers and lectured at local hospitals and the National Institutes of Health. He was also a dedicated family man who took pleasure in publishing a family memoir for his children. Proud of …

Don't get used to all that open space at Canalside. After mostly incremental changes, bigger projects are planned to make Canalside into the vibrant, historically themed downtown waterfront envisioned a decade ago. That plan called for buildings with residences, restaurants, shops and bars along cobblestone streets. "Ultimately, most of the green space that you see a…

Some buildings are deeply associated with a city. The beloved Fellheimer & Wagner-designed Central Terminal, which rises 17 stories above the East Side, is one such place for Buffalo. Families said goodbye there to loved ones departing for military service during World War II, and later the Korean and Vietnam wars. Many immigrants who settled in Buffalo steppe…

Ashley Fabio of Grand Island knows all too well what it's like to live with cystic fibrosis, a progressive genetic disease with no cure that causes persistent lung infections. Some have compared cystic fibrosis to breathing through a straw. Since 2007, when Fabio graduated high school, she has been hospitalized every three months for two weeks at a time. She receives…

The hustler Richard Gere plays in "Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer" is a far cry from the role he played 37 years ago in "American Gigolo." That starring turn elevated Gere into a sex symbol. In the comi-tragedy "Norman," Gere's nuanced portrayal of Norman Oppenheimer depicts an aging man who wears thick glasses, a camel hair overcoat, gray…

A gaping civilian-military divide exists in the United States. Only a small percentage of Americans serve in the armed forces, and many civilians have little awareness of veterans or those serving. serving. Brian Castner, a Buffalo-born military veteran and memoirist, helps bridge that gap with his writing. “It’s my job to help get you into those shoes and see wh…

A New York City company wants to set up a movie, TV and music production and post-production facility at the Central Terminal. And, ROAR Logistics, run by Bob Rich III, wants to relocate its headquarters there. But there's a hitch: Both companies are part of the mix of tenants for the Central Terminal that were being assembled by Harry Stinson of Hamilton, Ont. – a…

Buffalo's canyon of grain elevators is colossal. They are seemingly impenetrable. And there are a lot of them. In their heyday, the silos stored millions of bushels of grain inside more than 30 grain elevators. Today, 15 still remain, though just a handful are used. Now, an idea – and it's just that at the moment – is being floated to turn the cluster of six grai…

Talk to just about anyone involved in historic preservation, smart growth and neighborhood sustainability in Buffalo, and chances are they're a fan of Jane Jacobs. Jacobs' seminal book, "The Death and Life of Great American Cities," presented a counter-narrative to the prevailing views of urban planners of the 1950s and '60s. The urban renewal they propagated bulldozed …

As head of the Committee on Slum Clearance, New York City's powerful city planner Robert Moses saw little use for the sidewalks, stoops, mix of building heights and block lengths, and the other components that give neighborhoods vitality. His answer to what he considered blighted areas was to build a utopian, Modernist city of the future. In reality, he built sterile hi…

April 27, 1944 - May 3, 2017 Sandra J. LaFratta was passionate about skin care. As a representative for Amber Products, she talked about the importance of taking care of one's skin in salons and during an appearance on the "Gail King Show." She also gave talks as a keynote speaker at beauty conventions and trained other estheticians at high-end spas around the wor…

A six-story, brick-and-glass apartment building with 60 residential units and three first-floor retail spaces was approved Monday by the Planning Board. The plan by TM Montante Development and Morgan Communities of Rochester is part of the reuse of the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital. The two developers have teamed up to create what they're calling Lanc…

The Central Library's new exhibition, "Building Buffalo: Buildings from Books, Books from Buildings," features more than 65 works from great architects in world history. Their ideas and the presentations of their work on the library's racks played an important role in how the city's architects molded the future Buffalo. The books in the exhibit span the 16th to the earl…