December 21, 2020

In Buffalo, a security guard, his dog and a little bit of Christmas cheer

By haziqbinarif

Mark Fermo, a security guard who works for Ellicott Development, watches as his dog Mercedes lays on her bed at the Ellicott Square Building in Buffalo on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020.

BUFFALO — For the last 13 years, Mark Fermo has kept an eye on the Ellicott Square Building, a 10-story Buffalo landmark whose Italian Renaissance splendor sets it apart from the other downtown office buildings.

Fermo is a security guard who works for the building’s owner, Ellicott Development. Never in his recollection have things been so quiet. The pandemic is to blame.

The hustle and bustle of the historic Buffalo landmark has slowed to a crawl, he said. People no longer flow in and out all day long.

Some tenants have closed up shop, unable to sustain business within a crushing economic halt. Others have sent their employees home to work remotely, leaving behind empty offices.

The chairs and tables that used to be scattered throughout the atrium — the massive lobby with the vaulted glass ceiling where people might meet for lunch or take a break from their workday — are now hidden, stacked up and roped off beneath the staircase. 

“I try not to let too much bother me,” Fermo said. “I’m just thankful that I have a job.”

Having a Christmas tree inside the Ellicott Square Building's atrium is an annual tradition. Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020.

2020 has been a hard year for everyone, and the Ellicott Square Building is no exception, said Marie Mauro, Ellicott Development’s vice president of administration. 

COVID-19 prompted the shuttering of many businesses, which led to the building’s loss of some of its tenants, Mauro said.

And on top of all that, the building’s owner — Carl Paladino, the developer-turned-controversial-politician — lost his beloved dog, Duke, in April.

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