Neighbors want old Riverside factory torn down

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A building in Riverside has residents upset. They say it’s an eyesore that’s been decaying for years.

The building on Crowley Street held a company that once employed thousands. Now neighbors only see a hulking empty shell of a former factory covering two city blocks. Time has taken a terrible toll, attracting vandals and vagrants.

Evelyn Vossley with the neighborhood revitalization group, “Rediscover Riverside” said, “The kids have gotten in. There’s a lot of graffiti on the upper levels of the building, which tells us that the kids are climbing. It’s a big danger to all of us.”

A hundred years ago, the building was home to the King Sewing Machine company, which sold from Sears stores and catalogs. They even made radios inside the complex.

But on top of vandals and the wheel of time, the building has also seen a fire inside its floors, one that injured three Buffalo firefighters.

Vossler and her neighbors want the building demolished.  “There’s a newer owner who took it over and made promises of getting it demolished by recycling the items that were in there, and we know he has recycled a lot of metal, but we would like to see the building down,” she said.

North District Councilman Joe Golombek identified the latest owner of the old building as James Lunge and the property is still in city housing court. Golombek says the owner has been taking it down from the inside and recycling parts for re-use.

“The city has had it in and out of housing court. It has gone between different owners, and every time they get a new owner the city has to start the process all over again,” Golombek said.

But there are concerns the building is not structurally sound anymore.  “Because people are afraid that the one tower that is about three- or four-stories high is going to come down, and some neighbors have said that have seen it actually teetering when there is real bad windstorms,” Golombek said.

News 4 spoke to the current owner of the building late Thursday afternoon, who said he is close to hiring a demolition contractor and expects to have the building torn down by the end of the year.

Lunge says it is going to be tricky because parts of the complex are going to remain standing.

The property is due in housing court next week.

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