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Partial building collapse in Downtown Buffalo at Genesee and North Oak Street

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Posted at 11:16 AM, Jul 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-06 17:19:22-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A building at Genesee and North Oak Street in Buffalo partially collapsed Friday morning.

Buffalo Fire Commissioner William Renaldo said the call came in around 10:45 a.m. for a three-story commercial building collapse. He said the building is on the preservation list and was under renovation to be restored to its original condition but the cause of the collapse is unknown as of now. According to one of the developers they were in the process of filing to become a protected building.

Officials said it appears the building was vacant and there are no reports of any injuries. Traffic was diverted for four to five hours before the area was safe to drive through. Four to five workers in one-story building next door were evacuated safely.

Crews began a partial tear down in the afternoon to remove what had already collapsed, Renaldo said this will be the front portion and all three floors. An engineer will determine if the rest of the building is structurally sound. If it is not structurally sound the whole building will come down.

“I’m a fan of keeping these historic buildings around, but at some point they become unsafe and the best thing to do is to take them down," Renaldo said.

A building in the same area, at 435 Ellicott Street, partially collapsed in December 2019 and authorities ordered an emergency demolition. Renaldo said he believes the buildings are connected somewhat, they may have been under the same ownership at some point and code enforcement, city engineers and structural engineers will be taking a closer look.

Ellicott District Councilmember and Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen called for an investigation into the owner following the 2019 partial collapse of 435 Ellicott Street.

An agreement was reached between the city and the owner in December 2019 to transfer ownership to a different owner.

The building was originally built as a flour mill by the George Urban family in the late 19th century.

Preservation Buffalo Niagara was working with the current owner of the building to help get historic building tax credits.