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Company seeks to tear down Outer Harbor buildings eligible for historic register

An Irish building materials company that bought billions of dollars worth of assets from LaFargeHolcim S.A. three years ago is now seeking to demolish five of deteriorating buildings along the Outer Harbor in Buffalo.

CRH Plc is asking permission from the Buffalo Preservation Board to take down the derelict facilities at 1751 and 1755 Furhmann Blvd., which make up the former Lehigh Cement Elevator Complex and are eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. The site, previously part of Holcim Ltd., is a peninsula just south of Tifft Street and north of the Union Ship Canal.

According to a letter from Jeff Sessler of Sessler Wrecking that was submitted along with the application, the buildings are "not being utilized and the purposes they once served have since been replaced."

Sessler said in the letter that the demolition would "minimize the potential of injury or even death as these structures are deteriorating and are in a condition of disrepair." He added that vandals frequently trespass on the property, leaving graffiti and other damage and causing problems for both the company and "local authorities."

"By removing these unsightly structures, not only does it eliminate potential liability and dangerous situations, it will also enhance Buffalo's waterfront," wrote Sessler, whose 60-year-old contracting company is based in Waterloo in Central New York. "These structures are unsightly and unwelcoming for residents, tourists and new commerce."

The Preservation Board will consider the application on June 14.

Constructed in 1926, the concrete industrial buildings were used for cement storage by the Independent Cement Co., and were later part of the Wyandotte Cement Co. Three of the targeted structures are at 1755 Furhmann, while the other two are on the property next door.

CRH, now the largest cement company in North America and the third-largest building materials firm in the world, bought $7 billion in assets from LaFarge S.A. and Holcim in 2015 that those companies divested to overcome antitrust concerns regarding their merger. The deal included over 685 locations in 11 countries.

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