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The Buffalo Hostel has been ordered by the city to shut down on March 1, Hostel officials confirmed Thursday.


The formal order came in a letter sent this week by the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency

— the Hostel’s landlord — to the Hostel’s lawyer. 


“This is life shattering for us. It’s the end of a successful business in the Theater District,” said Katherine Pessecow, a Hostel board member and chair of its community engagement. “We’re in shock.”

Despite the order, Hostel officials intend to keep fighting. They will meet with members of the City Council on Tuesday.


The Hostel has been in limbo since November when it was informed that BURA —headed by Mayor Byron Brown — wanted the Hostel to vacate and shut down once stabilization work was to start on the Washington Street building adjacent to the Hostel. That building, owned by BURA, has been deteriorating for many years. There is no firm date yet for that work to begin.


Buffalo’s Investigative Post had reported BURA was considering either rehabilitating the building or demolishing it. BURA eventually voted on making the necessary structural repairs.


Pessecow said communication with the city had been problematic ever since, with most of the Hostel’s outreach to city officials going unanswered. Pessecow said there’s now speculation the city has a deal in place with someone to develop the property, possibly for luxury housing.


“We want the city to vacate its March 1 order,” said Pessecow. “We’ve been here 27 years. We have been trying to work with the city to do everything the right way. This is not what BURA told us last year and we are in shock.”


Closure on March 1 would mean the loss of jobs for eight employees, including one who lives at the Hostel. It would also mean the Hostel would lose most of its possessions given that one week would not provide enough time to pack. All future reservations will need to be cancelled too — meaning students who were coming to town to take the bar exam, families locating to Buffalo and planning on staying at the Hostel, and those who had reserved rooms for the upcoming eclipse in April now have to no place to stay.


“We were fully booked,” said Pessecow.


Meanwhile, for Buffalo’s Theater District, shuttering the Hostel means the loss of a tourism and cultural institution that pumped an estimated $1 million into the downtown economy.


The loss of the Hostel will also have an adverse impact on the Buffalo arts scene, resulting in the loss of another performance and gallery venue coming less than a week after news hit that Stamps the Bar in Tonawanda will be closing at the end of March.


The Hostel will be posting a letter on its website that members of the public can sign imploring officials to keep the Hostel open. Yard signs in support of the Hostel are also available for purchase and people can donate through the QR code embedded here.

“We mean a lot of things to a lot of people,” said Pessecow. “Tell your legislators — and tell the city — to keep us here. We need the public more right now than we ever have.”


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