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Phil Fairbanks

I cover federal courts and criminal justice issues and occasionally veer off into the world of refugees, human traffickers and streets gangs. As a product of the Watergate era, I value a newspaper's role as the community watchdog.


The Roanoke Hotel is again the target of a restoration plan that would convert the turn-of-the-century landmark into apartments and offices.The owner, Wenkroy Development Co., has received permission from the city to proceed with major changes to the outside of the vacant five-story building at 206 S. Elmwood Ave.Wenkroy also plans to gut the interior, renovating the …

Ciminelli Development Corp. has acquired an option to buy the former Bank of Buffalo building, renewing concerns about the future of the 19th-century landmark.The Amherst-based developer wants to proceed with a new office building, a plan that even Ciminelli acknowledges would include demolition of the bank building at Main and Seneca streets."It's a great site, and i…

Business people reacted with a mixture of excitement and skepticism to the announcement Wednesday that the city is proceeding with three major downtown developments.While expressing optimism about the future of downtown, at least one building owner suggested that the office market may be too soft to support several major additions.The developments include a 13-story o…

Stretching 500 feet from end to end, the wading pool at Martin Luther King Park resembles a crater, empty and dry from neglect.All that's about to change. A $300,000 state grant will allow the city to proceed with a restoration of the turn-of-the-century pool, considered by local officials to be one of the largest in the country."It's more than just another neighborho…

A regional bridge authority is needed if the Niagara Frontier ex pects to solve truck traffic prob lems on the Peace Bridge and the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, a lo cal development official said Wednesday. Andrew J. Rudnick, president of the Greater Buffalo Develop ment Foundation, said a single au thority would eliminate some of the competition between bridges and …

The University at Buffalo Foundation says it owns four Frank Lloyd Wright chairs that the university's former president removed from the Darwin Martin House. A lawyer for the foundation confirmed Tuesday that the orga nization is challenging Dr. Robert L. Ketter's claim of ownership of the four chairs.The lawyer said the two sides are working toward a settlement th…

The sale of four Frank Lloyd Wright chairs, worth an estimated $400,000, has been delayed until the question of ownership is settled. The Struve Gallery of Chicago or dered the chairs, which were removed from the Darwin Martin House here, withdrawn from a show in New York City after learning of an ownership dis pute involving former State University of Buffalo Pres…

Add Journey's End of Canada to the list of hotels ready to take a stab at the topsy-turvy market downtown. Encouraged by the redevelopment of Buffalo and by the potential impact of the Free Trade Agreement, Journey's End announced plans for an "all suites" hotel in the Theater District. In doing so, the company became the second chain to unveil plans for a new down…

"No deals" was the response Common Council Member at Large Eugene M. Fahey offered Thursday to a compromise over funding for the Allendale Theater. Fahey said the Allendale proj ect should be judged on its merits and not used as "political black mail" by politicians seeking fund ing for other projects.At the same time, he backed off his earlier threats to delay fundin…

The new kid on the waterfront -- the $75 million Pavilion proj ect -- was unveiled today for a group of Main Street businesses and many came away convinced it will help, not hurt, downtown. Some merchants remain con cerned about competition, but others think Pavilion will bring people to the lakefront and some of those shoppers will spill over onto Buffalo Place."I'm …

Virginia Street, an area hurt by crime and blight, is the target of a new City Hall plan designed to turn around the lower West Side. The city is using the Georgia- Prospect and Pratt-Willert projects as models in developing an ur ban-renewal plan for a seven- block area between Niagara and Edwards streets.The first phase would include the construction of about 15 sub…

Unable to find a new private developer, City Hall is taking over the development and funding of the long-awaited Market Arcade project. The Buffalo Enterprise Development Corp. voted today to commit up to $7.6 million of city money to restore the Theater District complex. The city would have to come up with $2 million more than it originally budgeted for the projec…

The Buffalo Bisons successfully eased some concerns today about the city's getting its fair share of revenue from Pilot Field, but not without raising new questions. Several Common Council members came away from a meet ing today convinced the Bisons were within their legal rights to withhold a certain amount of rev enue because the stadium was completed a Month lat…

The struggling downtown retail core was handed a new tool Wednesday -- a $1 million low- interest loan fund for new and ex isting stores. The fund, announced at a press conference at M&T Plaza, is in tended to be an incentive for re tailers who might be wary about locating downtown or expanding operations there. Supporters de scribed it as a national first.Designed by…

The Common Council gave prelimi nary approval Tuesday to a rescue plan for Theater Place, considered by many to be the cornerstone of the troubled Theater District. The Council voted in favor of a tax-relief plan but not without express ing concern over continued public as sistance for the building's owners. In the end, the Council approved the plan but with the co…