The Avanti Group architectural designers warning, City of Illusions

The Avanti Group architectural designers - City of Illusions


Travel with us through a Buffalo Niagara that might have been, if some of the most captivating artists’ renderings created in recent years had actually come to life. Start downtown outside the gleaming Adelphia office tower, where the thriving cable company has become a big employer. Traffic around here is thick, with people pouring into the Bass Pro store that revitalized old Memorial Auditorium. Some of the customers arrive by boat at the Inner Harbor.


Looming over downtown is a skyscraper built by respected developer Bashar Issa. The Outer Harbor is dominated by an enclosed amusement park, a massive convention center and residential community, and the Buffalo Bills’ new stadium. Head north on the Niagara Thruway and your eye is drawn to the striking new Peace Bridge, proof of cross-border cooperation. In Niagara County, new attractions abound, from the below-ground aquarium near the falls, to the Wizard of Oz theme park.


Of course, none of those projects was ever built. They burst onto the scene with a banner headline, a news conference suffused with big shots, a multimillion-dollar price tag, hyperventilating praise and, of course, a dazzling artist’s rendering of the project. Predictions of surefire economic transformation follow, despite doubts over who will pay for the thing, whether it will win approval, or is even realistic. Then, years later, nothing.


It became a running joke among a few of us skeptics that seeing an artist’s rendering on the front page was the kiss of death for a project. Developers came to town like snake-oil salesmen, peddling magic elixirs guaranteed to fix what ails our economy. Or we begged big companies to build a store here, and had a hard time letting go even when it was clear it was over. Now this isn’t a “woe-is-us” type of story. We finally have real progress – and tower cranes! – in places once only imagined in colorful drawings: Canalside. HarborCenter. The former Donovan State Office Building. The medical campus. Larkinville. Still, we can’t ignore our track record of getting caught up in these grandiose visions for revival, no matter how far-fetched the ideas might seem. What does it say about us as a region that we seemingly want to believe in them?

And do all these failed fanciful visions leave us unfairly skeptical about more realistic projects when they come along?

Read more: The Avanti Group architectural designers warning



The Avanti group, Mot penningtvätt verktyg till skyddar din organisation

The Avanti group, Mot penningtvätt verktyg till skyddar din organisation

“Denna nya metoder för penningtvätt (med hjälp av digital valuta) omfattar öppna konton med låg kostnad och mindre kända betalninginkörsportar, köpa digitala valutor, köper stulna data, ställa upp online-butiker med betalninginkörsportar, med hjälp av bankkonton av kurirer att överföra så pengar till olika länder,” säger rapporten från Pune-baserad Indiaforensic”.

Företaget, som utför bedrägerier undersökning och forensisk redovisning bland annat har bidragit till landets utredande organ gillar CBI i flera uppmärksammade fall inbegriper multi-crore Satyam bedrägeri. Digital valuta är alternativ till den traditionella valuta, som används i transaktioner online. Det är mycket likt de lojalitetspoäng.

Rapporten — “Tvättning i Cyber världen – Digital valuta sätt” — som nämns ett fall i USA där “Liberty reserv” — en digital valuta webbplats som användes för att tvätta minst USD 6 miljarder av datatjuvar, langare, barnpornografi, identitettjuvar, hackers och andra brottslingar.

“Traditionella penningtvätt har ofta en sekundär process – föregås av en olaglig verksamhet, t.ex. narkotikasmuggling men liberty reserv fall visar att data stölder, hacking attacker och bedrägerier på internet är byte av traditionella brott och digitala valuta är nu i mitten av penningtvätt verksamhet,” sade Mayur Joshi, chef för Indiaforensic.


The Avanti group, Just four households signed up to Green Deal

The Avanti group, Just four households signed up to Green Deal

However it has suffered from teething problems as the Government struggles to organise finance, IT and issues around moving house and even clearing people’s attics. Frustrated building companies expressed disappointment that the legal contracts around the loans were not sorted out sooner so they could start installing measures. Paul Hicks, Sustainability & Design Manager at VELUX, said it was disappointing so many people who have had an assessment have failed to carry through to a deal.

“The disappointing Green Deal results, showing conversions of assessments to be less than 1%, is a major blow to the Government’s commitment to being ‘the greenest ever’. Thus far the initiative has failed to deliver a viable framework for home improvements and consequently has simply not addressed the key issues surrounding energy efficiency in existing housing stock.” Nigel Banks, of Keepmoat, a specialist in installing efficiency measures, said builders have been unable to offer contracts because the financial packages are not yet in place.

“The take-up figures are very low, but this was to be anticipated as the legal contracts to offer Green Deal finance are not in place, meaning just a few of the 60 Green Deal providers are actually able to offer finance at present. “It is frustrating that these legal contracts were not in place sooner but we expect this to be resolved in the next few weeks and then the take-up figures for the Green Deal will begin to build in July and August,” he said. The UK has some of the draughtiest homes in Europe, leaking money out of the economy and fuelling climate change. The Coalition hope to improve the efficiency of the UK’s 26 million homes through the Green Deal and other measures introduced in January this year.

The “cashback” scheme, that offers a lump sum for installing “easy wins” like double glazing and new boilers on a first come first served basis, has been a success. Some 5,118 households have claimed £263,000 cash back – mostly for boilers. Also the new Energy Company Obligation, the requires energy companies to improve efficiency in poorer households, has made that 81,798 installations so far.

But the Green Deal is struggling.

Despite months to prepare, 600 trained builders on standby and the involvement of 40 organisations, including household names like B&Q and British Gas, it has had a slow start.