Owner of va­cant Ryan bot­tling plant asks court for de­mo­li­tion per­mit

The Buffalo News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Thomas J. Pro­haska

A Buf­falo ar­chi­tect who owns the va­cant John­nie Ryan bot­tling plant in Ni­a­gara Falls wants to tear it down, find­ing lit­tle his­tor­i­cal or ar­chi­tec­tural value to the 10,000-square-foot build­ing.

“It’s a ware­house and a bot­tling dis­tri­bu­tion plant,” Matthew P. Moscati said.

Oth­ers, how­ever, see it as a his­toric land­mark.

The Ni­a­gara Falls His­toric Preser­va­tion Com­mis­sion last week rec­om­mended to the City Coun­cil that the build­ing at 822 Ni­a­gara St. be de­clared a lo­cal land­mark. The com­mis­sion called the plant, built af­ter World War II, “an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of Art Moderne com­mer­cial ar­chi­tec­ture” and said it “com­bines the sleek moder­nity of the in­ter­na­tional style with Art Deco-style or­na­ment.”

“Just be­ing the style doesn’t mean it has ar­chi­tec­tural sig­nif­i­cance. It’s not a great ex­am­ple of ei­ther style,” said Moscati, a for­mer chair­man of the Al­len­town As­so­ci­a­tion’s preser­va­tion com­mit­tee who has won sev­eral preser­va­tion awards.

He’s su­ing to gain a de­mo­li­tion per­mit.

Seth A. Piccirillo, the city com­mu­nity devel­op­ment di­rec­tor, said he didn’t sign the de­mo­li­tion per­mit be­cause of the his­toric preser­va­tion process. Moscati said that process be­gan af­ter he paid for the per­mit.

“My due process has been tram­pled upon by his depart­ment,” Moscati said. “They seem to like to change the rules in the mid­dle of the game.”

“They’re not de­mol­ish­ing it be­cause of de­vel­op­men­tal purposes. They’re only de­mol­ish­ing it be­cause of taxes,” Piccirillo said.

“How many more build­ings do you want to lose in the city? I think the com­mu­nity has the right to ask that ques­tion,” Piccirillo said.

Moscati said if he is al­lowed to de­mol­ish the build­ing, he would re­tain own­er­ship and lease the site for re­de­vel­op­ment. He said some po­ten­tial ten­ants have con­tacted him but he wouldn’t iden­tify them.

His at­tor­ney, James P. Roscetti, said “a fran­chise” is a pos­si­bil­ity for the 132-by-165-foot lot.

“The lead­er­ship is more in­ter­ested in self-serv­ing po­lit­i­cal agen­das than the qual­ity of life in the city,” Moscati said.

Piccirillo is run­ning for mayor.

State Supreme Court Jus­tice Daniel Fur­long sched­uled ar­gu­ments in the case for May 1. That’s the date of the City Coun­cil’s next reg­u­larly sched­uled meet­ing, and a vote on land­mark sta­tus for the plant could be taken.

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