Share this article

print logo

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.


If you can believe the nation's premier building owners' group, suburban Buffalo is suffering from overbuilding and high vacancy rates.The problem is that even its local members dispute the figures.The international Building Owners and Managers Association, in a recent office market review, estimated the occupancy rate for suburban Buffalo at 50.1 percent, the lowest …

Lack of safe, affordable housing for Buffalo's poor is at a crisis stage and grows more severe each year, according to a study released today by a national public policy group.Buffalo's economy may be improving, but the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has concluded that the region's low-income housing shortage is increasing at an alarming rate.The center's repo…

The hiring of a private consultant for a regional waterfront master plan moved a step forward Wednesday.The Horizons Waterfront Commission, during its second meeting, established a series of qualifications for choosing a consultant. The firm is expected to play a major role in Horizon's most important task -- the development of a regional master plan for 90 miles of l…

Supporters of a local source of revenue for mass transit are taking their case to the silent majority.More than 60,000 postcards asking the Erie County Legislature to "VOTE NOW" are being circulated to the public this week.Organized by the Greater Buffalo Development Foundation, a local business group, the campaign is designed to pressure county lawmakers into voting …

For 62 years, the Peace Bridge has served as Buffalo's most visible link to Canada.That's long enough, preservationists think, for the bridge to take its place among the region's historic landmarks.The Buffalo Preservation Board is researching the history of the bridge, seeking justification for declaring the span a local landmark, a move that even the board chairman …

Homeowners in Buffalo's historic districts would receive some tax relief under a proposal being studied by the Buffalo Preservation Board.The board is studying whether to provide a tax break to encourage rehabilitation of historic properties.The details have yet to be determined, but options could range from allowing owners to take a deduction from their tax bills, to…

Complaints about the installation of cable television boxes on city homes have prompted the Buffalo Preservation Board to push for changes in how the boxes are used in historic preservation districts.The board has received an opinion from a City Hall attorney that indicates TCI of New York Inc., the city's cable TV operator, must seek board approval for each cable box…

A second developer has shown an interest in "Western New York's most famous address," the former Sattler's store site at 998 Broadway.David M. Gordan, president of National Warehouse Sales Inc., last week acknowledged his interest in redeveloping the vacant site. He declined to comment on his plans.Gordan would say only that "there are possibilities" for a successful …

Downtown merchants are stepping up their fight against mass transit cuts, suggesting that stores may close on Saturdays and preparing legal action against the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.With the deadline for cuts in Metro Rail and Bus service only four weeks away, retailers are working behind the scenes, pressuring the NFTA and the county to work out a …

The Horizons Waterfront Commission met for the first time Wednesday and took steps toward hiring an executive director and a consultant to oversee a regional master plan.The commission devoted most of its two-hour meeting at the Marine Midland Center to how it can best find the staff and outside help it will need to develop the master plan.The development of a coordin…

Buffalo Place is fun, safe and clean, but it needs more stores and better promotion, according to a new survey.A telephone poll of 400 Western New Yorkers in late January and early February revealed a favorable attitude about downtown as a place to go for dining and entertainment.Of the people surveyed by Buffalo Place Inc., the mall manager, 65 percent described it a…

Some downtown sidewalks are still buckling and shifting and the colorful banners are still not up, but City Hall is going ahead with its takeover of the Buffalo Place pedestrian mall.Ownership of the 1.2 mile-long outdoor mall will change hands later this month when the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority transfers title to the city.The $43 million mall, seven y…

Hotel owner William P. Hart has resigned as chairman of the Greater Buffalo Convention and Visitors Bureau, following through on his vow to step down because of a funding dispute with the county.Hart's departure follows the bureau's decision to sign its annual contract with the county. The contract provides for increased funding from the county's 5 percent bed tax but…

When the Horizons Waterfront Commission meets for the first time in a few weeks, the table will be filled with businessmen, labor leaders, planners and government officials.Absent will be the average citizen advocating public access to the water, the very interest group that was assured a voice when the commission was first proposed a year ago."We don't have a real st…

City Hall is looking into the possibility of constructing a tunnel under the Buffalo River as an alternative to the proposed $48 million Gateway Bridge.Mayor Griffin, during his monthly news conference, said the city's Public Works Department is studying the pros and cons of building such a tunnel."It might be a viable alternative," said David P. Comerford, the city's…