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Recommended landmark status home on West Utica in Buffalo torn down

Former homeowner: "We loved this house"
Posted at 11:46 PM, Feb 27, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A recommended landmark status home in Buffalo was demolished Thursday after the developers were previously denied a permit to do so. The abandoned home at 184 West Utica, also known as the Ernest Franks House, is now a pile of rubble. The building was demolished to make room for the Elmwood Crossing development near the site of the old Women and Children's Hospital.

"The entire neighborhood is heartbroken to see this structure come down," Suzette Hunter said. She's be advocating to save this home alongside dozens of neighbors. "These houses are the jewels of Buffalo. Our history is our future," Hunter added.

For Annette Daniels Taylor, this loss is more personal. It was the first home she and her late husband, Rodney, bought together. Rodney was a celebrated artist with work featured at the Albright Knox. Now Daniels Taylor is literally picking up the pieces that lay in the ruble. She took bricks home to preserve the years of memories while living in that home.

"We loved this house," Daniels Taylor said. She continued, "We only asked for one, one house, out of seven acres of land."

It's especially frustrating for preservationists because earlier this week, a demolition permit was denied for the developers.

"I've never received so many calls, emails, people just stopping me to say hey you have to preserve this house," Niagara District Councilman David Rivera said.

The preservation board had hoped it would be able to get the house landmark status after they recommended it this week. By Wednesday, things changed and the city reversed course. A permit was granted, which paved the way for the wrecking ball.

"I will say that the development team has been working on this for about two years. They have followed every aspect of the law," Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said on Wednesday before a demolition permit was granted. It was then, Mayor Brown said the developers were planning litigation if demolition did not move forward.

Both the councilman and neighbors agree, some type of legislation needs to be put forward to ensure this doesn't happen again.

The city reiterates Thursday night, it has no legal authority to stop the demolition from happening. As for Sinatra, the company has no further comment Thursday evening.