Thursday, July 3, 2008

Buffalo, New York —Developer and CEO of Savarino Companies, Sam Savarino, has confirmed to Wikinews that he has bought, and is planning to restore a severely damaged stable and livery on Buffalo’s West Side. The building partially collapsed on June 11, which originally caused 15 homes to be evacuated.

Savarino bought the building from owner Bob Freudenheim for US$1.00 and states that he hopes to save as much of the building as possible, including the facade, at least 20 feet of the side walls, all of the back walls including the elevator tower and if possible all three floors. There is one major downside to the purchase; he inherits the over $400,000 tax lien against the property.

“It was a “NYS Lotto” purchase (‘a dollar and a dream’). I do inherit the City’s lien of $400,000 though,” stated Savarino to Wikinews. The fee is what the city has been billed for the limited demolition it paid for before Savarino bought the building. Currently the city is suing Freudenheim to force him to pay for those fees.

The building is currently undergoing minor demolition in preparations to make the rest of it stable. Once complete, Savarino plans to evaluate the extent of the damage and begin his plans to make the building into residential living spaces.

“Only unstable parts are being demolished. We will see what we have to deal with as the demolition proceeds but tentative plans are for living units on two floors with parking on the ground floor,” stated Savarino. Construction is expected to begin as early as this year, but “more than likely next year,” he added.

Originally the city ordered an emergency demolition on the building after Freudenheim gave them permission to demolish it on June 12 during an emergency Preservation Board meeting. His reason was because he would not be “rehabilitating the building anytime soon.”

Freudenheim, along with his wife Nina, were part-owners of the Hotel Lenox at 140 North Street in Buffalo and were advocates to stop the Elmwood Village Hotel from being built on the Southeast corner of Forest and Elmwood Avenues. They also financially supported a lawsuit in an attempt to stop the hotel from being built. Though it is not known exactly how long Freudenheim has owned the stable, Wikinews has learned that he was the owner while fighting to stop the hotel from being built. Residents say that he has been the owner for at least 22 years. Residents successfully halted demolition after winning a restraining order in New York State Supreme Court, which will continue to monitor developments in the case. The next hearing is scheduled for September 2.

Savarino states his project could cost at least $3,500,000 and before construction can begin, all plans must be approved by the city’s planning board.