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JUDGE ORDERS EXAMINATION OF SALVAGING BUILDING

A state judge Tuesday directed the Buffalo Preservation Board to consider the economic feasibility of rehabilitating a fire-damaged 19th century Allentown building owned by a city agency.

After two structural engineers agreed that the three-story building at Main and Virginia streets could be renovated for future use, State Supreme Court Justice Eugene M. Fahey granted the review sought by the Allentown Association and the Campaign for Buffalo.

Fahey also kept in effect, until at least July 8, the temporary stay he had issued April 8 at the request of the organizations.

Two days earlier, a fire blamed on arson had collapsed the roof of the building, prompting the Fire Department to recommend emergency demolition.

Timothy Tielman, executive director of nonprofit Campaign for Buffalo History, Architecture and Culture, said no financial assessment of preserving the historic structure had been made. But John Jablonski, an attorney who lives on North Pearl Street, behind the damaged building, questioned its worth.

Jablonski, whom the judge allowed to intervene in the case, said he plans to address the city Preservation Board on the lack of any viable economic approaches for rehabilitating the building designed by George Metzger, a Buffalo architect at the end of the 19th century.

The building is one of seven structures in the 800 block of Main acquired last year by the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency. Privately held First Amherst Development has been designated to redevelop them.

David J. State, senior deputy corporation counsel, and Richard E. Stanton, the renewal agency's general counsel, said they plan to address the Preservation Board within the next two weeks on why public safety concerns require demolition.

Fire Department Division Chief Edward Craver had testified Monday that fire crews had to fight the fire "from the outside" because of fears the structure would collapse.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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