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Stop work order placed on Larkin District building

The City of Buffalo slapped a stop work order Thursday on a historic Larkin District building where workers a day earlier were seen removing bricks without a permit, raising fears of possible demolition.

“Whatever they did, they did on their own and were supposed to get a permit for,” said James Comerford, commissioner of permits and inspections. “I have one of my inspectors this afternoon doing an assessment on what they demolished.”

Comerford said he would take swift action if the order is ignored.

“If they proceed, we’ll get the police out there to stop them next.”

Peter Krog Sr., whose Orchard Park-based company Krog Corp. co-owns the powerhouse, as well as the Larkin Center of Commerce, located next door, said the brick removal was done to determine how damaged the wall was and that no decision had been made on the powerhouse’s future.

“There is some major deterioration of that wall, and we wanted to see how bad it was and to determine how much water damage there was, and how far it goes,” Krog said.

He said he was not “currently” considering demolition but raised the prospect of putting in a parking lot if he deemed the building beyond repair.

“We have not determined what we are going to do with that building. We have a parking problem there, and there are structural issues with that building we are evaluating,” he said.

Krog, who is an engineer, said there was also a “huge foundation failure” in the rear of the building.

“I am for preserving anything I can. We’re preserving the Trico building, and if I can preserve it, I will preserve it. If I can’t, I won’t,” Krog said.

“Our intent was and still is to put apartments in that building. We never bought it with the intention of tearing it down,” he added, noting expensive architectural fees spent on renovation plans that sit on a shelf.

A large ad on the powerhouse building wall, at Seneca and Larkin streets, shows a drawing of the rehabilitated structure, renamed “Larkin Lofts,” with images of one- and two-bedroom apartments for future sale.

The Larkin District has been a major success story in the city, with numerous buildings preserved, rehabilitated and occupied with tenants and increasingly, residents.

Recently, the long-dormant F.N. Burt and A&P warehouse buildings, just west of the district on Seneca Street, were sold and are being redeveloped for residential and office space.

The Buffalo Preservation Board voted Thursday to hold a public hearing in the near future to consider designating the Larkin district as a local landmark that would make demolition more difficult.