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10 dilapidated buildings to be razed

By the end of the year, Buffalo officials hope to have razed 10 large abandoned and crumbling commercial buildings across the city.

Plans are moving forward to take down these deteriorating neighborhood eyesores and community hazards -- some of which have been blighted for years and stretch from the East Side to Riverside and the lower West Side, officials announced Friday.

The properties, which are both city-owned and privately owned, were selected by the city's Department of Permits and Inspections based on conditions of the sites, as well as the amount of complaints from neighboring residents.

"We've identified the worst of the worst large commercial demos that need to be done in the City of Buffalo," Mayor Byron W. Brown said in an afternoon news conference.

The total costs of the 10 demolitions is estimated at more than $3 million.

On Monday, demolition will begin on a former brass foundry and machine shop at the corner of Sycamore and Lathrop streets, which is surrounded by a metal fence draped with red tape and signs warning of asbestos contamination.

Other properties slated for demolition are 46 Metcalfe St., 630 Genesee St., 1006 Clinton St., 1681 Fillmore Ave., 1740 Bailey Ave. and 308 Crowley St.

A property at 202 Walden Ave. is currently being demolished, while demolitions at 257 Virginia St. and 630 High St. have already been completed.

Sister Mary Johnice, who regularly passes the site at Sycamore and Lathrop, said knowing the building is coming down stirs a wonderful feeling that "somebody cares."

"It's going to make a difference," she said.

Inspections Commissioner James Comerford Jr. said the controlled demolitions will be done by contractors who bid on the work at the properties, some of which the city has been going after for years.

Some of the properties have been more challenging to deal with because they remain privately owned, thus increasing the amount of legal hurdles, he said.

Demolition costs per site will range from $100,000 to $500,000 and could take up to three weeks, officials said.

The city will try to go after the property owners to recoup demolition costs, but they face an uphill challenge, Comerford said.

The vacant building at 46 Metcalfe was abandoned about seven years ago and was devastated by a fire two years later, said Bill Lisk, president of Max Brock Co., a recycling business located next door.

Demolition of that property will start in two weeks.

"I'm glad it's going," Lisk said, noting the property has been ravaged by thieves.

The property was once home to a business that sold used office furniture, Lisk said, and it's just waiting for another fire to occur.

"I'm happy to see anything go good in this neighborhood," he said.

Since 2006, the city has demolished 26 abandoned commercial properties at a cost of about $5.1 million, Brown said.

As city officials and members of the news media gathered outside 197 Lathrop, and right before the news conference began, a passing motorist yelled a message that might echo what many in the neighborhood feel.

"About time."