Voelker's demo hitting Preservation Board snag

Posted at 6:36 PM, Jul 09, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Voelker's bowling alley has seen it's last strikes and spares.

"It's just a decision we had to make," Krista Voelker, owner, said.

In April, Voelker announced plans to demolish the iconic building, which has sat on the corner of Amherst Street and Elmwood Avenue since the late 1800's. Voelker says structural issues only grew worse during the pandemic as the building sat empty, showing the need for a change that her family has been looking into for years.

"The idea that this building needs to be saved is great. but we've been looking to re-purpose this building for 15 years now," Voelker said.

Voelker's desire to demolish the building has run into a massive roadblock in the form of the Buffalo Preservation Board. The board says the structure, built in 1892, is historically significant and should not come down. This is something that Voelker disagrees with.

"The building is worth saving because a brewery that was on the East Side used to sell beer there (at Voelker's)," Voelker said, "It's all far fetched."

This push from the preservation board is part of a larger effort from many local officials, calling for the city to focus on remediation, not destruction.

"How does an owner fix a building we need to change the culture around that that question shouldn't be asked when a building is about to come down the city of buffalo should be channeling and celebrating resources for the structure and the neighbors that like it well before that question is on the table."

Voelker says she hopes the area eventually becomes a green space, or possibly a grocery store or bank. Before that can happen, the Buffalo Common Council needs to decide on its significance.

"The next step is it goes before the common council and then they decide if it becomes a landmark or not," Voelker said, "the issue is is that if its become a landmark then all you get is a rotting building it just sits there until it falls apart and then is demolished."