OLEAN – As bids to tear down the buildings at 10 though 116 West State Street were being considered last month, a local business owner made a plea to wait before tearing them down. Now, a month later, a different voice has expressed the same concerns for the buildings, to the members of the city’s Urban Renewal Agency.
Southern Tier-based urban planner Carol Horowitz told members of the agency that razing the buildings would be a mistake. She said the buildings represent exactly what developers are looking for in places where revitalization has made a difference.
“Speaking as a professional city planner, demolition of one or more of those buildings would be very short-sighted,” she said in a letter to members of the agency.
During the October meeting, Jef Belt, president of SolEpoxy in Olean, addressed the board in a bid to save the buildings. Horowitz and Belt urged preservation of the buildings. Both cited the potential success of the North Union Street project in creating a more walkable Olean, and that it may be the thing that brings out the desire to develop the former Manufacturer’s Hanover bank building at State and Union streets.
“It is not known if any developer of the Manufacturer’s Hanover building would want or need parking,” Horowitz said. The parking lot idea was one that members of the Urban Renewal Agency have said is needed to attract developers to the complex. Ample parking already available in city-owned lots or other sites could serve future development of this building, some officials said.
According to Horowitz, the commonly recognized view is that an intact streetscape is critical in making a street attractive to pedestrians. Keeping the buildings in place would preserve the streetscape, she said.
The agency made no decisions on the building during its meeting.