4/29/2006

557 East Utica...

Last week I drew some attention to this home at 194 East Utica. My post gathered some momentum as David Steele, frequent BuffaloRising contributor and Chicago based architect contributed this moving piece about the plight of 194 East Utica which drew dozens of comments.

Well this week we have another remarkable victorian home in distress. This home at 557 East Utica, according to long term residents in the neighborhood - yes there are still people who live here and remember playing on Humboldt Parkway, before it grew and metastatized into the scar that killed the East Side - has been vacant for six years. It was home to a family for more than 60 years...until the early 90's. According to the City's site, it's gone through a few cycles of ownership and a bank forclosure since then. In 2001 the house sold for $3800.00...
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If you are interested in purchasing the property, e-mail me and I'll do my best to help you reach the owner via some of the neighbors. The roof appears to be new and as you can see from one of the pics two new electrical services were installed, too.
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Just down the street from 557 East Utica is 865 Humboldt Parkway pictured here at the corner of East Utica and Humboldt. It's one of the East Side's top ten!
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What are you waiting for? Invest in Buffalo!
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Artspace ArchiveAnnals of NeglectBAVPAWhere is Perrysburg?Broken Promises...
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4/28/2006

Artspace Area - Investment Impact...

Somebody just scooped up 38 Northampton. It's right across the street from the new Artspace development and 100 feet away from the Post Office. I had a chance to speak with a long term tenant that was getting ready to move out over the weekend. Grocery shopping just down the street on Jefferson and the subway is just blocks away.
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What makes this recent sale extraordinary is not the sale price, 30K, but that it was on the market for less than 60 days! And check out some of the surrounding residential property 100' away!
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Check out the Artspace Archive for additional commercial and residential investment opportunities, especially this post from January!
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Artspace ArchiveAnnals of NeglectBAVPAWhere is Perrysburg?Broken Promises...
Writing the CityWoodlawn Row HousesTour dé Neglect - 2006

Open Houses, only in the 'hood...

Many realtors use an "open house" to market residential realestate. Here on the City's East Side seems like the City of Buffalo is doing the same. This past week I toured some of my favorite City owned houses here in Masten all within a block or two of City schools. Here's what I found...

125 Woodlawn, see map...
125 Woodlawn Ave. - Buffalo, NY 125 Woodlawn Ave. - Buffalo, NY
377 Woodlawn, see map...
22 Waverly, see map...
1466 Michigan, see map...
1466 Michigan Ave. 1466 Michigan Ave.
Here's the silver lining...This house at 1466 Michigan is in excellent structural condition. New mechanics, windows and straightening out the porch would make this an excellent two family home or rental property. The lots on both sides are owned by the City and could probably be bundled for a larger lot with garage possibilites. 30 million will be spent half a block away on the new Performing Arts High School....new row houses are going in, too...

And of course the Woodlawn Row Houses are still wide open, diagonally across the street from the future home of Performing Arts High School.

And so it goes...any suggestions?
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Artspace ArchiveAnnals of NeglectBAVPAWhere is Perrysburg?Broken Promises...
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4/25/2006

Jane Jacobs (1916-2006)

Just learned from Craig over at NorthCoastUS.com that Jane Jacobs has died. Here's Craig's post. Fans of Janes have edited and expanded the Wikipedia entry about her life and work, over here. Cool links. I recently posted this about about her influence.
Jane Jacobs
Two of Buffalo NY's most astute observers of things urban, Tim Tielman and Hank Bromley, met-up with Jane Jacobs in Toronto back in July, 2000. Here's the full-text of their interview with her.

HB: I thought I’d start by asking how you started writing about cities and what makes them work.

JJ: Well, I really explain all that in the Introduction to The Death and Life of Great American Cities.In brief, I was working for an architectural magazine, and I becamedismayed at how unrealistic the plans that I was writing about were. Isaw that they didn’t really make very magnetic or attractive cityareas; people seemed to shun them instead of enjoying them. And then Iwas fortunate in having a good mentor who had been thinking about thesame things, the head worker of a settlement in East Harlem. And he gotme thinking along the lines of how city streets work.

HB: In ways that professional planners hadn’t really been considering?

JJ: No, they didn’t like the street....read the rest....
Update...
tuesday evening

Jane's New York Times obituary...

From the Ludwig von Mies Institute...
Jane Jacobs (born 1916), author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, died today. Obituaries will invariably describe her views in a way that suggest she made a case against market economics. But Rothbard described her book as "a brilliant, scintillating work celebrating the primacy for economic development, past and present, of free-market cities. Read the rest...
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4/24/2006

Sickamore Village - Part II

Chris, aka 'WestCoastPerspective' for readers of BuffaloRising, tipped me off to a July 2004 Buffalo News article by Phil Fairbanks about Sickamore Village.
"These partially completed homes on Sycamore Street were constructed on land contaminated with lead, mercury and chromium. City officials say contamination levels exceed state standards for new housing."
Here's the full article from July 2004 and the full text from Lexis/Nexis if you can't read the newsprint. Seems like someone, New York State or the City of Buffalo, is spending close to 1 million on dirt, stone and a few tarps to clean the site. I wonder who owns these three houses. No house numbers and the new property lines don't show up on City maps.

This is all I could find doing a google search on "Sycamore Village and Buffalo" that pertains to the site, here and here. A Lexis/Nexis search of the Buffalo News only revealed the July 2004 story from Phil Fairbanks.
The Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency is to receive $720,000 to review historic operations on a 3-acre sitein Sycamore Village at the intersection of Sycamore Street and Jefferson Avenue.
This seems like a significant development, and I would think the Brown administration would be all over this development as a successful example of brown-field development and remediation. Nothing...

Would you buy one one of these houses? Was the case against Dennis Penman and MJ Peterson ever settled? Anyone....love to know.

I'll follow up and take pictures of the new lawns that are sure to be rolled out some time real soon. Let's see if any of the trees that might be planted here are placed in holes that are deeper than the "clay cap".
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4/23/2006

Sickamore Village?

Here at the corner of Sycamore and Jefferson I spotted 30 large dump trucks dropping loads of dirt the other day. I remember talking with East Side Housing activist Michele Johnson last year about this site and it would appear as though the site is undergoing some sort of "environmental remediation."
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Check closely and see the "cap" of tightly compacted dirt in some of the pics. If anyone has additional information about this remediation project, please tell. What could be hidden under there? I do know that three of these recently constructed homes have always been vacant and some plans for other houses in the area were stopped. Why?

I met the owner of this vinyl victorian, right across the street from this project on Sycamore, the other day. He thought that a few dozen homes were going to be built. They will be replacing houses like this, which was on the block last summer and demoed about a month ago. This particular brick house had a new roof three years ago and save the missing windows was in good structural condition.
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This is what things looked like last year along Sickamore...
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Wonder if anybody here will be planting a vegetable garden any time soon. Remember Hickory Woods? And yes, that's the recently condemned Buffalo Forge plant in the background.
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Another Demo...

This single family house at 441 Masten Avenue, directly across the street from the future home of Performing Arts High School, was demolished this week.
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I typically won't post pics of owner-occupied homes that are in derelict condition. This home was occupied until just a few weeks ago when a stenciled sign "Order To Vacate" appeared on its front. The front porch had been falling off the foundation for years. It's now history. That one new build behind on Chester, on your right, was recently purchased atforclosure for less than half it's original selling price in 1999. It had been empty for 3 years.
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Love the graffiti at the school's entrance! Great message...Anyone wanna wager who long it'll be there? It's been a month already...
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Artspace ArchiveAnnals of NeglectBAVPAWhere is Perrysburg?Broken Promises...
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4/19/2006

Upcoming Events from Partners...

This just in from George Grasser and the Partners for a Liveable Western New York, the April 19th update. Check it out for all sorts of events coming to the Buffalo, NY area in the next few months.

Here's the Partners' Archive of past Newsletters and related matters.
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Artspace ArchiveAnnals of NeglectBAVPAWhere is Perrysburg?Broken Promises...
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4/17/2006

194 East Utica - Revisited

Former Buffalo resident and Chicago based architect, David Steele saw my post about 194 East Utica last week. He contacted me and composed this compelling piece over at Buffalo Rising. Check out the comments if you haven't already seen the post.
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This morning I wanted to take a closer look at the architectural detail that makes 194 East Utica such an impressive house and an extraordinary opportunity for the adventourus soul willing to take on the project.
Keep in mind that this house is directly across the street from a City school, just around the corner from the African-American Cultural Center on Masten and a few short blocks away from the new Merriweather Library. It's just four blocks away from the developing Artspace project and three short blocks away from the future home of Performing Arts High School. Here's the map.
Good news...
I'll be volunteering in Antoine Thompson's office when the semester is over for a few hours/week. We're going to implement a marketing strategy that is successful in the private sector but sadly missing when it comes to City of Buffalo owened property. That's right. FOR - SALE signs will be added to City owned property here in Masten, such as 194 East Utica. Pictures and links will be going up on Antoine's website! So simple. Stencils and spray paint...
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Artspace ArchiveAnnals of NeglectBAVPAWhere is Perrysburg?Broken Promises...
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4/13/2006

1360 Days To Go...

This is not good news for Buffalo, NY. This, from Judy Einach...

Today I was asked by a city employee to leave City Hall - out, now.

I was told the order was given by Peter Culter who read the city employee my previous post, First 100 Days. On the basis of my post I was to get out of City Hall. Not even Dick Kern was banned from City Hall! City Hall is a public building! It’s publicly owned. I guess someone in the administration thinks it’s a private building and possession is nine-tenths of the law! Read the rest.

Alan, over at BuffaloPundit, picks up on the hit, too.

Make sure to book mark the Einach Report. Judy is a huge supporter of my efforts here in this little corner of Masten to help save the Woodlawn Row Houses. Her first press conference, as she started her Campaign for Mayor, took place in front of the City owned and neglected Woodlawn Row Houses.

100 days, done. 1360 more to go...
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4/12/2006

Biting the Dust...

Frequent readers of this little Masten neighborhood blog know about 2 Girard Place here on the City's East side. Here's another.
194 East Utica - Buffalo, NY 194 East Utica - Buffalo, NY

194 East Utica - Buffalo, NY 194 East Utica - Buffalo, NY 194 East Utica - Buffalo, NY
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I thought this house at 194 East Utica was occupied. Here's the map. It's not. It was boarded recently and yesterday I saw the familiar red spray painted numbers. Demolition of this really unique two-family victorian home is just around the corner.

And so it goes...
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Artspace ArchiveAnnals of NeglectBAVPAWhere is Perrysburg?Broken Promises...
Writing the CityWoodlawn Row HousesTour dé Neglect - 2006faq

And Another Real Estate Tool...

I've been reviewing some of the emerging web 2.0 real estate tools recently, over here. I just took a look at Propsmart. It debuted recently and is loaded with features for buyers and brokers. Propsmart revolves around the phenomenally successful and amazing google maps application. Just enter a zip code and see what happens. Cool!

Here's last week's Wall Street Journal review of Propsmart. And last month's review in the Kansas City Business Journal.

Accounts are free. Get one!
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Artspace ArchiveAnnals of NeglectBAVPAWhere is Perrysburg?Broken Promises...
Writing the CityWoodlawn Row HousesTour dé Neglect - 2006faq

4/04/2006

Woodlawn Row Houses - April 2006

For those of you who are new to FixBuffalo, I take pictures of the Woodlawn Row Houses on regular monthly basis. Here's the archive. What started as local neighborhood blog documenting the "demolition by neglect" of the City owned Woodlawn Row Houses has morphed into a blog visited by 250-300 visitors and 134 subscribers everyday. Mostly local and dozens of ex-pats living miles away from Buffalo. Most posts as you will see deal with various opportunities, persistant problems and the the successes of this neighbor on the City's near East side, just behind Midtown, Buffalo's rapidly emerging new arts hotspot.
Woodlawn Row Houses - April 2006 Woodlawn Row Houses - April 2006 Woodlawn Row Houses - April 2006
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The Woodlawn Row Houses were designated a 'local-landmark' by the Preservation Board in 1981. As you can see they have entered the next phase of "demolition by neglect" in the past few months. They are owned by the City of Buffalo and part of our architectural heritage. This map will help orient you to the site and the proximity to the future new home of Performing Arts High School.
Woodlawn Row Houses - April 2006 Woodlawn Row Houses - April 2006
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I've done my best to board and re-board the Woodlawn Row Houses. I live one block away and have been mowing the grass and picking up around the place for the last three years. Mayor Byron Brown lives a few blocks away in Hamlin Park knows about the condition of the property and Masten District Councilman Antoine Thompson is aware of the rapidly deteriorating condition of the property, too. Last summer, I lead his assistant, Mark Boyd, around the neighborhood.

Aside from the fact that you wouldn't even know the Woodlawn Row Houses are for sale the concern for the safety of students attending the school across the street continues to go unheeded...I mean the place is still wide open...

It's been two years of phone calls, Buffalo News article, Artvoice article and cyber-activism. Nothing. Any suggestions? Leave a comment or e-mail me. Thanks.
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Artspace ArchiveAnnals of NeglectBAVPAWhere is Perrysburg?Broken Promises...
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4/03/2006

Merriweather Library Interior - Part I

Buffalo's newest cultural hotspot opened Saturday morning. When I arrived around 2pm the opening celebrations were still in full swing. Concerts, readings and many of my neighbors were all admiring the interior work of Robert Trayham Coles and the long term efforts and dedication of the Merriweather family and friends in turning a small corner of the City's East side into a sanctuary for learning.
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I've been hard on the building's exterior and so have others. Check out the conversation at Buffalo Rising last week. With that said, I have to remind myself, and I think the metaphor applies in this case, that you can't judge a book by its cover. Here the library's interior is appropriately designed for library patrons to engage in a wide variety of enriching activities. This isn't to say that the same level of detail and design couldn't have been achieved on the inside with a building that's 'pedestrain friendly' on the exterior. It could have. And that remains a missed opportunity. Yet the inside...I think is amazing. Go look for yourself. Here's the library's link to check for hours and special activities.
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rear view - Welker and East Utica
I took a few pics. The library was packed with people and I thought it would have been inappropriate to take pics, so I'll return at another point for the interior shots. All the way home I saw people on the sidewalks, talking about the new library here in this little corner of Masten.
The exterior is still having problems. The new stamped concrete sidewalk has a sealer that gets really slippery when wet. So the construction fence is still up around the building's perimeter. Cool design as the library's floor is made of the same material. Outside comes in...
And here's what the Buffalo News had to say about the library opening...Don't forget to check out The Buffalo Criterion.
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Artspace ArchiveAnnals of NeglectBAVPAWhere is Perrysburg?Broken Promises...
Writing the CityWoodlawn Row HousesTour dé Neglect - 2006