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Vacancy Filled

by on April 3, 2012

Any time one of Buffalo’s landmark buildings spent out of action was too long. But the emblematically woeful shuttering of the historical Hotel Lafayette is almost part of the past. Even better, the upcoming version will provide a venue where people can shop, eat, and live in addition to stay.

Visitors will once again be able to check out one of the areas best places to check in, as a hotel that honors a man who helped America achieve independence will hopefully again be as majestic as its martial namesake:

Renovation work at the old Hotel Lafayette is now entering the final stage.

Since last June, 270 workers have been trying to restore the building to its old grandeur.

Developer Rocco Termini tells Eyewitness News that construction workers have found many hidden historic features such as a “speak easy” in the basement, and a marble floor hidden under layers of linoleum.

You often find neat stuff while doing neat stuff. Reopening the speakeasy would be great even if it might attract hipsters. Give people something to do downtown, and they’ll do it:

Rocco Termini is president of Signature Development and he says 170 events are already booked for the newly renovated hotel.

Noise from merriment bothering nearby library patrons is the best problem downtown could have. And we can get back to olden good times. The facility was renowned for a level of fanciness that might not be available n some of the city’s more rundown areas today:

Opened in 1904, it was considered one of the best hotels in the country, featuring hot and cold running water, and phone service to the bedrooms.

I hope Termini can still restore Buffalo’s amazing buildings after he’s elected mayor right this second. His actively tangible approach to improving downtown has generated amazing progress without political supervision, which should be a lesson to all political leaders.

Termini’s useful achievements are also far superior to the self-appointed and -righteous city saviors whose plans for reviving Buffalo include demanding more governmental spending on their pet projects and demonizing anyone who’s ever voted for a Republican. Predictably dull leftists remain certain the reason progressive policies haven’t worked is that we haven’t tried enough of them.

The next time will be better, they swear. But maybe tearing down abandoned houses that are worthless because nobody wants to live in a depressed area will someday lead to prosperity, so they should keep trying. The alternative, namely trying to fill them by improving the economy through removing the barriers to fee commerce, is of course an unacceptable concept, at least according to those who got us in this mess.

Too many who try to scheme on the city’s behalf present nothing more than phony optimism cloaked in more spending. It’s natural to feel contempt for the ideas that could reverse course if they contradict one’s own, even if denying their repeated failure wouldn’t appear logical to those visiting Earth and encountering humans for the first time. Aliens might ask for explanations about some misguided Buffalo residents.

Even ideas that might superficially seem to help can actually be harmful. For one, the state historic tax credit is a well-meaning but nonetheless misguided attempt to drag hoary areas into the future. We’ve seen how long projects take when the government essentially pays people to renovate private property.

And the grant which helped finance a small portion of the refurbishment took money out of the economy in the hopes that it would someday find its way back in. If the restorers wanted that two million dollars, they could have worked to voluntarily attract that much in business.

Developers can’t be faulted for playing by the rules and taking what’s made available. But imagine how much more quickly old buildings could spring to life in the present if Albany wasn’t providing incentives to projects it deems favorites. There’s always economic uncertainty when everyone pays for services not everyone uses.

The evidence against favoritism lies in how infrequently redevelopment happens. The government’s role should be to get out of the way of Buffalo’s Terminis, as he’s the sort of seer and doer who will adapt and thrive even if he’s not offered special breaks.

The image of the hotel’s faded glory is almost too symbolic of the city in which it stands. But the image will hopefully be replaced by one of the city’s jewels re-opening for business. Apologies for the delay, but your room will finally be available.

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