4/30/2007

Hamilton Ward House...again!

Remember the Hamilton Ward House? Last summer "friends of Coe Place" were swarming it, right here! You'll remember that the owner - Belmont Shelter, same folks who've been appointed property manager over at Artspace right next door - wanted to send it to a landfill and expand their parking lot.
IMG_6676
Had a call late night call from a Coe Place resident last week. He was concerned that demo-prep might be going on, again. I stopped by about 7am and called City Hall to see if the demo permit Belmont Shelter had applied for last year had been re-activated.

Learned that an architect had submitted plans on behalf of Belmont Shelter for interior and exterior renovations. As you can see the only demolition that took place was the pine tree, right infront of the house. I think the entire street scene has been improved.
IMG_6672 IMG_6671
click image to enlarge
What a difference a year makes. And yes, the back door remains secure! Thank you again, Mike & Liz (Belmont peeps) for withdrawing the demolition permit and getting things done! Will be keeping track of the Ward House's transformation this summer...stay tuned.
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Partners e-Newsletter...

Just received the latest e-newsletter from George Grasser and Partner's for a Liveable WNY - April 27, 2007. Check out the latest e-newsletter to learn more about the increasingly larger conversation in the area about about land-use and urban planning issues.

Excellent series happening in Niagara Falls. Here's George and Tim Wannamaker.
IMG_6216 IMG_6571
I've archived past Partner's Newsletters, over here.
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May is Preservation Month

May is preservation month!
tophead_logo
Check out the statement from Richard Moe, President, National Trust for Historic Preservation...
During Preservation Month 2007, the National Trust and its partners and friends across America have much to celebrate. American enthusiasm for historic preservation is stronger than ever, and we are working more effectively than ever – protecting the places that people care about; sparking a renewed sense of community pride; bringing new investment, new jobs and new economic vitality to historic commercial areas; keeping our history alive and close at hand so we can live with it, learn from it and be inspired by it. read the rest...
While your clicking through the National Trust for Historic Preservation's site make sure to sign up for the free e-newsletter, right here.
Very cool links, here - in the advocacy section. And if you still haven't got turned on by the work of Jane Jacobs (1916 - 2006), you really should - right here!
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Faded Memories

Saturday afternoon while walking in the in the Jefferson/Northampton area we spotted these two signs, that I'd never seen before.
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IMG_6691[1]
Any other ghost signs out there...
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More City Sale...

Interested in buying a City owned property? Make sure to check out these earlier posts...
As fixBuffalo readers no doubt know, I've been focusing my attention rather strategically around the Artspace area. Houses that are still available include:
These are owned by the City and I'm available to help you navigate the maze to help make one of these places your home. Make sure to check out a recent lisiting at 10 Edna Place. Figure this will be sold with-in the next 30 days!
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School Project

I've been interested in abandoned and vacant properties around City schools for the longest time. See, School House Project - March 2005. There are so many glarring examples of neglect surrounding some of our finest assets, it's almost pathetic. FixBuffalo readers may remember Boarding Control earlier this year which featured some of the many properties owned by Bethel Community Development Corporation - aka, Rev. Richard Stenhouse who sits on Buffalo's very own Control Board as our Treasurer/Secretary.
Yet no where is the blatant neglect more visible than it is here.
474131250_5c207c1151_o
Click image to enlarge
That's the Dr. Lydia T. Wright School of Excellence in the forground named after Dr. Wright. Special thanks to MJ , for the air shot. Other ones I've used recently - here and here.
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Little Appalachia

I remember last year when Upstate New York was compared to Appalachia. Seems like that there was some push-back with that critique. Don't know if Buffalo has ever been used as a model for this criticism. Just in case someone wants to push it forward, I'll make a few pics available from Saturday's tour.
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Here's the front.
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And around back, same house. No, this house is not located in Harlan County Kentucky!
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Still Broke - 25 Years Later

From City Journal...
Twenty-five years ago, social scientist James Q. Wilson and criminologist (and Manhattan Institute senior fellow) George Kelling first introduced the phrase “Broken Windows” into the public policy lexicon. In a pathbreaking Atlantic Monthly article, Wilson and Kelling pointed out that people were likelier to vandalize a building with one broken window than a building with none, since a broken window sends the message that nobody cares, encouraging vandals to act on their destructive impulses. Similarly, they suggested, if a community tolerates quality-of-life offenses, such as drug use and prostitution, it signals to all potential lawbreakers that it doesn’t care what happens to it; more serious crime will soon result. read the rest...
Blueprint Buffalo uses this framework as a point of departure for kick starting the conversation here in Buffalo on abandonment and vacancy issues. Wrote about this way back, last Novemeber - Getting Smarter about Decline.

City Journal is a daily read. Free e-subscription, right here.
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4/29/2007

St. Matthew's, (lack of) Passion?

As I mentioned last week, St. Matthew's Church was sold for $3500 (yes, thirty-five hundred dollars) at the City's tax sale last October. Two guys from Williamsville bought the place and transferred it to an LLC. Had a short e-mail exchange with one of the guys this week. See here, here and here for additional background.

In my e-mail exchange, I advised that they take "possession" of the place, like NOW. As I noticed on March 25th - a full six months after the $3500 bid was accepted for the property - the window on the Moselle Street side of the basement was opened. Here's the video! Same window that "we" accessed on the St. Matthew's Good Friday Tour.
On Saturday we headed back to St. Matthew's to see if they had properly secured the basement window. This is what we saw...
IMG_6718[1]
While I certainly wish these guys from Williamsville the best of success with their church, really got to wonder why they've waited so long to properly secure the premises. Part of my e-mail contained this advice...
I'm assuming your attorney does not live in the immediate neighborhood. If you are sincere and desire to move forward with your project and preserve what is still a viable structure, properly securing the building is a good first step. NO one will stop you from properly boarding and securing the site. Deeds sometimes take weeks to receive after they've been recorded. Again, you may be losing valuable time.
And like we're still waiting. Housing Court this Friday. Stay tuned...
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Blowin 'n The Wind...

I ventured out to the water's edge early Friday morning. Anybody know what's up with this project?
Picture 260
Last time I was here I explored the sand pile, right here.
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Lost Density...

Wonder what life was like here in Buffalo when the neighborhoods were full of life...
IMG_6768[1]
Here's a short slide show with twevle in back in front houses. All of the examples that I saw yesterday were next to at least one, sometimes two, empty lots.

Would like to know if any fixBuffalo readers remember this sort of housing from "back in the day." Were these houses typically owned by the same family and/or rented to others?
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More Plastic

No comment...

IMG_6679[1]
Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. Mcguire: Plastics.
See My Vinyl Collection for additional inspiration.
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St. Anne's &Vergara

Frequent fixBuffalo readers know that I became rather transfixed with the work of Camilo José Vergara (1944 - ) How the Other Half Worships (2005) that I first wrote about in late October 2006 - Vergara on Church.

Yesterday, while walking around in the fog we spotted this store front church next to St. Anne's.
IMG_6765[1]
Vergara often includes in his critique of the American ghetto photo documentation of storefront churches springing up in the shadows of these gothic wonders. Similar phenomenon on Sycamore Street across from Transfiguration Church, too.
panorama
photo by MJ
The Preservation Coalition held their annual meeting at St. Anne's in January, right here.
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Another Air Shot...

MJ passed along a number of air shots from his photo shoot above Buffalo.
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If you're not familiar with the German Roman Catholic Orphan Home down on Dodge Street, I've compiled an archive. Still one of my favorite spots in the City. Last September, after an Artspace party, a few intrepid urban explorers checked out the place, right here.
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Urban Prairie...

Still fascinated by the ever increasingly larger urban prairie. Spotted this slide on Adams Street. Seems like one of those playground pieces that was removed from County parks way back.
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Awesome vintage T-bird in the distance, too. On Peckham, tucked behind the "vinyl victorian."
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Very few people were out yesterday afternoon...or is that very few people live here any longer.
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Landfill or Love...Decide Now!

Had an opportunity to spend a few hours behind St. Anne's Saturday afternoon. We spotted this place at 287-289 Monroe Street at the corner of Peckham.
IMG_6796[1]
The City took possession of this four unit building during the tax sale last October. It's clearly marked for demolition as the notice was stapled to the boards some time last week. Only one problem. The building is structurally sound. The roof is new and there's not a crumbling brick. The side door was open...so. Lots of cosmetics, mechanics and a dozen new windows are needed. The apartments are divided along very traditional lines with two bedrooms in each unit.

While I fully understand that the market may not be catching up to this neigbhorhood anytime soon, would'nt it make more sense to "moth-ball" a building like this...than send it to the landfill?

This City owned building is arguably in better condition than many of the City owned buidings listed in the City For-Sale Catalog, that I wrote about last week.

Anyone want to venture a guess as to how much we're spending on knocking this down? Plywood is probably cheaper...really!

So it goes...
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4/26/2007

Airspace...

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Hard time visualizing Artspace's Backyard? Here you go...
Airspace
MJ buzzed the City the other day and just sent this along. Way cool. Lots to see. Click here for larger image. Join me on Saturday's at 11am - tours of the Artspace Backyard Neighborhood last about an hour. Bring your camera!
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Selling Jesus...

On Good Friday a few intrepid souls ventured inside. Wrote about it here - Disfiguration? - and followed up here - Disfiguration - Part II. The other day I received an email out of the blue.
St Mathews-sold
Michele Johnson and I were comparing notes during the weeks and final days leading up to last October's City in rem sale, the auction. We poured over the list and never saw this. A month after the sale I posted City Sale which contains a spreadsheet documenting the sale's results. Sure enough, on the last day of the sale two guys from Williamsville, NY bought 1066 East Ferry Street, aka St. Matthew's. (Click through the spread sheet to find their names, which I won't mention here...) One of these guys sent me an email the other day and identified himself as one of the owners of Re/Deal Partners LLC, new owner of St. Matthew's. Same guy informed my that the deed was just filed by the City last Friday and he doesn't want to start any work at St. Matthew's 'till he gets the deed in the mail.

So...lots of issues here I know. Both St. Matthew's and Transfiguration were part of the same Diocesan deaccession plan back in the 90's. You'll remember that Transfiguration was sold for $7000 and now we see that empty churches continue to lose value.

Guy claimed no knowledge of the May 4th Housing Court date. I've spoken to the City's inspector who filed the Housing Court case. I've given him names and addresses that the purchaser provided the City last October as the successful bidder. Re/Deal Partners LLC has a different address which I've also handed over to the inspector. On May 4th I'll make certain to hand both addresses to Judge Nowak, too.

At this rate when the Bishop announces Diocesan Deaccession - Part II, guess you know what Selling Jesus is going to cost.

So it goes...
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On Smart City...

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Smart City is a weekly, hour-long public radio talk show that takes an in-depth look at urban life, the people, places, ideas and trends shaping cities. Host Carol Coletta talks with national and international public policy experts, elected officials, economists, business leaders, artists, developers, planners and others for a penetrating discussion of urban issues.

This weekend...
  • Why do great strategies fail? That's the question Michael Raynor asks in his new book, The Strategy Paradox. Michael says the job of leaders is to embrace the inherent uncertainty of strategy and recognize that the future can't be predicted. Instead of making choices, leaders create options. Michael is a Distinguished Fellow with Deloitte Research in Boston.
  • Our second topic this week is a strategy critical to cities - how to leverage universities and other anchor institutions to contribute fully to urban success and, in turn, to their own. Dr. David Maurrasse of Marga is with us to talk about the challenges and rewards of these partnerships. David is on the faculty at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.
Listen to host Carol Colletta - list of additional stations/times - 7pm Sunday on WNED - 970 in Buffalo, NY. Past Shows are archived and the newsletter is published regularly.
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4/25/2007

Year Ago, Today...

One year has passed since we learned about the death of Jane Jacobs (1916 - 2006).
Jane Jacobs
If you haven't read The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) you should! Make sure to check out the Wikipedia entry for Jane Jacobs! Great links.
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4/23/2007

BAVPA ReConstruction - End Week 42

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April 22, 2007 - Day 304
While most of the work at Performing Arts has been happening on the inside of the school, the scaffolding on the last of the three new additions is coming down. As seen from the continuing series of roof top shots, the exterior work at the new Art Wing is almost complete.
Performing Arts HS - April 2007
The corner will be enclosed in glass! Check out the slide show - Performing Arts April 2007 - and see some of the truly exciting work that's been happening here on the City's near East side.
See BAVPA Reconstruction Archive for additional details and updates.
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4/21/2007

Canal Mapping...

I've been waiting for a map like this to appear. Thanks George!
2Erie Canal 1900-20071510x1765
click image to enlarge
Take a moment to click through some of the links here - Erie Canal Links - no doubt the most comprehensive set of links and resources to help you better understand the significance of what's at stake. The alternative? Paving over our heritage, again...go figure.

The recent background information can be found here - Erie Canal Harbor Project. Many of the documents - years of community based work, stitched together by members of this community are available using that link. The recent plans presented by Larry Quinn conveniently overlook this fact. Wrote something about this - (b)Ass Pro - last month.
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Disfiguration - Part II

Shortly after posting this - Disfiguration? - I received a number of emails about life at St. Matthew's. The stories I've heard have been heart breaking. The neighborhood had been so vibrant and the church is less than 100 years old. According to Joseph Napora, in Houses of Worship, St. Matthew's opened in September, 1928. Here's the story.

Here some pix that were sent in, from back in the day.
St. Matthew's - Buffalo, NY St. Matthew's - Buffalo, NY
click pic for larger image
Here's another image from a 1965 grade school graduation - here - and the organ loft in 1985 - here.
After reviewing the Housing Court case - index # 501/2007 - with a represenative from the Dept. of Inspections last week - it seems as though the summons was sent to the wrong address. It's scheduled for May 4, 2007. I'll be following this and report back.

I know, Bishop Kmiec has been laying low recently with the Diocesan deaccession plan. Any news about the pending fate of St. Anne's and St. Adelbert's? Let me know...
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Listing on Edna Place...

Had a chance to check out the latest listing in the Artspace Backyard Neighborhood the other day. Ryan Pierce from Polis Realty sharred the listing with me - right here. 10 Edna Place [quikmap] is right around the corner from Artspace and runs between Ellicott and Masten. Masten Park is at the one end and Osmose is at the other. Here's the view of Artspace from the second floor side window.

This two family home appears to be in structurally sound condition. We didn't see any structural problems. Lots of cosmetics, a few windows. Was very surprised to see both furnaces, that appeared to be newer, along with both hot water tanks. Couple sketchy houses across the street that need to be demolished.
IMG_6245
Here's the interior slide show - 10 Edna Place

Edna Place is part of the North Ellicott Neighborhood Association (aka Coe Place Block Club, see here & here). With all the positive activity and attention in the neighborhood it's now only a matter of months before the eye-sores are demolished, not years.

Reach Ryan at 716.961.7632 to set up a showing. This won't last. Asking price $22,900...bet the first $15K takes it. By Memorial Day this place will be sold. Really...
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Saturday's Tour...

I was joined by members of the Buffalo Flickr Group this morning and Amy from Buffalo At Home for the tour around the Artspace Backyard Neighborhood.
Picture 260
Jim Lindley's group shot! As pix trickle in, I'll post the group slide show here. Looking forward to seeing additional eyes on what's happening in Buffalo's coolest new emerging neighborhood.

Here's the emerging group show, check back often - BuffaloArtspace2007

Tour's every Saturday at 11am...leaving from the Sonic Café.
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4/19/2007

Smart City...This Weekend...

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Smart City is a weekly, hour-long public radio talk show that takes an in-depth look at urban life, the people, places, ideas and trends shaping cities. Host Carol Coletta talks with national and international public policy experts, elected officials, economists, business leaders, artists, developers, planners and others for a penetrating discussion of urban issues.

This weekend...
  • What would happen if every anchor institution in your city -- your universities, libraries, parks, major sports facilities, and museums -- were in perfect alignment around a few big goals, contributing their maximum to your city's success and their own?
  • Our guests this week are leading anchor institutions with imagination and energy, and they are key participants in an upcoming discussion to take place May 1st and 2nd in San Jose on the topic of Leveraging Anchor Institutions for Urban Success.
  • Paul Holdengraber is the Director of Public Programs and LIVE from the NYPL at the New York Public Library. Josephine Ramirez is Vice President of Programming and Planning at the Music Center in Los Angeles.
Listen to host Carol Colletta - list of additional stations/times - 7pm Sunday on WNED - 970 in Buffalo, NY. Past Shows are archived and the newsletter is published regularly.
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4/17/2007

Ouch!

Richard Florida's The Creativity Exchange shares the bad news. A recent post - By The Numbers... - has a link to the recent US Census Bureau's numbers about population decline in major metropolitan areas - right here.

Playing with the data sets is easy. Four easy spread sheets to ease the pain. Just drilled into the Buffalo/Niagara line. Between July 2005 and 2006 the area lost 7,276 people.

Do the math. 139 people every week or 20 people everyday!

Guess we are in better shape than Cleveland. During the same period Cleveland lost 10,983 residents, about 30/day! Wrote about Cleveland recently - Cleveland in Decline.

I'm at a loss for words...
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4/16/2007

Artspace Flickr Tour...

Jim Lindley has organized the Buffalo Flickr Group to meet-up at the Sonic Café this Saturday for the Artspace Backyard Neighborhood (Photo) Tour. Last month Jim toured the neighborhood for the first time and had this to say...
I saw the area this morning, and it's weird because it's only 2 blocks from my house but the whole area is in a blindspot for me because it's on the other side of Delaware Ave.
I'll leave it up to Jim to designate a special tag so we can quickly assemble a slide show of the event. Should be way cool.

Jim was the guy who got the ball rolling on this recent story - Snapshots of Buffalo - that appeared in the Buffalo News recently and is now archived over at the BERC site.
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City Real Estate On-Line...finally!

In a recent Citistat update (March 2, 2007) Paul Wolf, Chief of Staff for the Common Coucil reported the following...
Marketing Available City Owned Properties

The CitiStat panel discussed the need to market the many properties owned by the City for new development opportunities. The need to establish a marketing plan was discussed. The idea of utilizing a real estate company or a private marketing company to market available City owned properties was also discussed as something to look into. At the very least Mr. Wanamaker stated that within the next 30 days an effort will occur to at least put photos of available City properties on the City’s web page.
Well...don't know if the deadline was met, yet here's the link and catalog [.pdf] off the City's site. See, prior to this link, the only way to know what property was for sale was to go to the 9th floor of City Hall and ask for the catalog, actually a 10-15 page packet. If you were somehow in the loop you could sometimes get the packet mailed to you.

While looking through the on-line catalog prepared by John Hannon's staff - sort of looks like a late night middle school web project - I quickly noticed a house the City is trying to sell at 2 Girard Place. It's strangely marked as "sale pending" and fixBuffalo readers will remember it - right here.

From the hundreds - and perhaps thousands - the City owns, one quickly begins to wonder why these properties were chosen over others. Pix are about as good as what you might get from your realtor. Looking at a number of the pix in the City's "on-line catalog", I was struck by the number of cars parked in City owned driveways.

A small step in the right direction. If you've purchased a house from the City recently, do share your experience...
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4/15/2007

Saturday's Tour...

Saturday's tour included a couple artists from NYC and "Gizmo"...the first furry friend to make the tour of the Artspace Backyard neighborhood.
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Towards the end of the tour we poked our heads into the space behind Artspace and took a look at the new builds. Seems hard to believe that Savarino is going to have this all wrapped up in six weeks!
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We also saw some repairs happening over at St. Vincent's - right here.

Come on over...tours leave the Sonic Café every Saturday at 11am...
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More Artspace News...

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Two follow up pieces in the local media recently about the Artspace Opening later this week.

In Artvoice this week Gabe Armstrong's piece...
Breaking down barriers though Art,” might come off sounding like one of those lofty mission statements that is easily dismissed as pretentious banter. But in true, literal form, this loopy phrase will soon mean a lot on Buffalo Near East Side.

The Midtown neighborhood straddling Main Street between East Utica and Best Streets has been part of the long dividing line between the East and West Sides of the city...read the rest...
And in Sunday's Buffalo News, Wendy Holmes and Andrew Commers from Artspace central, have a short Q & A about various issues surrounding the project.
Our team here at Artspace led by project manager Will Law, and the project architect, Hamilton Houston Lownie, put together what is a pretty interesting space use for each unit in the rehab. It does a good job of staying true to what I think is a larger Artspace aesthetic that we’ve learned over the years and is more preferred by artists ...read the rest...
Come over and check things out, later this week. Wow, Savarino is supposed to have this done by June 1st!
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City's Action Plan...

Did you know the City has a plan? I didn't untill this week. Here it is - Action Plan 2007-2008. The plan was prepared by our Common Council. Of particular interest is how Common Council President David Franczyk's introduction paints Buffalo...

We are, however, not blind to the depredations which have befallen Buffalo and hundreds of other American cities in more than a half-century of urban decline, a decline which threatens the heart of America's civilization.

A prominent urban critic wrote that today's Buffalo resembled a city carpet-bombed in World War II. Others in the popular media brand some areas of the city as looking like ravaged areas in Beirut or Baghdad.

We may reassure ourselves that these critics were engaging in unfair hyperbole given the many attractive features in Buffalo, but these biting words also underscore that our most challenging task is to revitalize neighborhood's crucified by decades of slum and blight. The City of Buffalo's Department of Strategic Planning reports that as many 10,000 dilapidated structures need to be torn down at a staggering cost of $170 - million. Many census tracks in the city show that nearly 40% of the people live in heart-breaking poverty...
read the rest...

I believe David Franczyk may be referring to this writer that I wrote about in Woe is Moi, way back in the time machine.

Additionally the plan calls for a second Housing Court Judge and adoption of a Smart Code...very very good news if you are planning to stick around Buffalo. Call the moving company and cancel the truck to Charlotte. Check out the table of contents. I've hyper-linked the six sections.
Curious to know what fixBuffalo readers are thinking...
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4/10/2007

Artspace - Rental Time...

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You heard it first here - just in from the good folks in Minneapolis...

Thursday, April 19 - 5:00pm - 7:30pm
Wednesday, May 2 - 5:00pm - 7:30pm
Saturday, May 12 - 2:00pm - 5:00pm
Been down with Artspace since December 2004. Only blog in Buffalo providing continuous coverage of this amazing development on the City's near East side. Check out the construction archive and pix!
Come on over for a tour of the Artspace Backyard Neighborhood...Saturday's at 11am...
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Partner's April 2007 eNewsletter...

Just received the latest e-newsletter from George Grasser and Partners for a Liveable WNY - April 10, 2007. Major news includes...
  • We are participating with a group of concerned citizens of the City of Niagara Falls in a nine-week FREE Wednesday evening Smart Growth series “Revitalizing and Romancing the City – From Smart Growth to Sustainable Development” beginning April 11. Your attendance is encouraged. All programs will be at the Niagara Falls Public Library from 7 to 9 p.m
I've been asked to share the panel on April 25th - Housing for Everyone - in Niagara Falls with Tim Wannamaker, Director of the City of Buffalo Office of Strategic Planning. Should be interesting. As Michael Clarke from LISC-Buffalo is leading the discussion on April 18th about abandoned and vacant property.

I've archived past Partner's Newsletters, over here.
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ArtspaceBAVPATour d'Neglect - 2007Woodlawn Row Housesfaqmy flickr
the creativity exchangeCEOs for Cities

4/08/2007

Disfiguration?

First noticed St. Matthew's church about seven years ago while driving to work at Turner/Carroll HS. The church is on East Ferry and Wyoming. Here's the map. Three years ago, I noticed that a few of the windows were broken and the grass was already out of control by Memorial Day.
update...4/10/07...11pm
learned today that the Minister here, Milton Perry will be arraigned in
Housing Court on May 4, 2007
#index 501/2007
According to an unpublished history, Houses of Worship, by Joseph Napora, St. Matthew's opened in September, 1928. Here's the story. And here's a picture of the church in Aachen, Germany - right here - that Napora points to as St. Matthew's doppelgänger. You guessed right. St. Matthew's was part of the Diocesan deaccession back in the 90's.
Disfiguration Church - aka St. Matthew's
photo - MJ
On Good Friday an intrepid bunch went to church. St. Matthew's was open, so we went in. Friends from TO, the DK PhotoGroup, that fixBuffalo readers have seen before - met-up with local explorer and urbanist, MJ. First time for all of us, inside. This is what we saw...
aaa
photo - Sean
While walking around and checking out the rest of the images I'm thinking that St. Matthew's is probably in the condition today that Transfiguration Church was perhaps 12 years ago. Check out the slide shows.
Guess you know a church is headed for the dust pile when you see old pews used as boarding material for broken windows. Haven't checked yet regarding the Housing Court status of St. Matthew's. Have already heard from two people who will be supplying me with pix, from back in the day.
IMG_6151 IMG_6150
click image to enlarge
Remember since the Diocesan deaccession in the 90's the Diocese here in Buffalo has built two churches - both McChurches here & here.
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ArtspaceBAVPATour d'Neglect - 2007Woodlawn Row Housesfaqmy flickr
the creativity exchangeCEOs for Cities

Yo, I be the neighbor...

Artvoice ran a great piece last week - The City Bountiful - about Queen City Farm. And as fixBuffalo readers know, I've been drawing attention to this site on East Utica for over a year.

Read this "Dear Artvoice" letter the other night...
ASK THE NEIGHBORS

As a long-time resident of the East Side, I can say my reaction to Rod McCallum’s project was mixed (“The City Bountiful,” Artvoice v6n13). In a nutshell the problem is that every aspect of the project is exciting and progressive, but I fear that this is just going to be the first wave of the “progressive” middle-class types who come from West Side Buffalo, North Buffalo, Amherst, Clarence, Tonawanda, etc. who don’t live here now but will very soon and who actually will succeed in getting a lot of great things done, while the long-time residents who live here now will get pushed out as you all buy up the houses we can’t afford to keep up with. I don’t think Mr. McCallum is a sinister person or has sinister motives but gentrification is a reality. One big criticism I have, for instance, is how the first news of this happening is in the Artvoice and not the Challenger! It was encouraging that you mentioned how the spot in question is right around the corner from the African-American Cultural Center but it would be nice to know if he plans to have any community information meetings at the center about what he’s doing—or, even better, at the brand new library on Jefferson.

Many current residents on the East Side would like to see a project like this actually come to the East Side and invest in it to make it a reality. Hopefully Mr. McCallum will look for some people from the neighborhood to invest in this worthwhile project.

George Winfield

Buffalo
Dear George,

The City's near East side needs innovation. The first news of this "happening" occurred on my little Masten neighborhood blog - fixBuffalo. I encouraged Artvoice reporters to bring this exciting news to a wider audience. Many of the new and exciting developments, on both sides of Main Street are first organized on-line as it's an amazingly efficient way to communicate. The Challenger, as far as I understand, does not have an on-line presence.

You've addressed and danced around a couple issues that need to be addressed. First, gentrification. Can't happen here. By definition gentrification occurs when there is a housing shortage. Last time I walked down East Utica, I identified three houses on the new farm block that were vacant and owned by the City. Around the corner on Glenwood, twice as many. In Buffalo, we have a housing surplus! Your fear that people are going to be somehow "bought out" of their house I believe is unfounded. Rod and the people I've met associated with the farm project are more interested in homesteading existing vacant houses that are owned by the City. Stabilizing the neighborhood in such incremental ways adds value all the way around. This is a good thing.

I've lived here - on Woodlawn Avenue - three short blocks away from the farm site for almost 11 years and was chair of the social studies dept. at Turner/Carroll High School until it closed. There, I encouraged my students to investigate the neighborhood and on several occasions Geoff Kelly from Artvoice led reporting sessions with my students.

I'm sending this letter to you via email to Artvoice and will hope that you have an opportunity to read it. Rod reads this blog and will try to reach you as well. He works at the King Urban Life Center on Genesee Street and will most probably add the Merriweather Library to a list of sites for community informational meetings. Your participation and involvement will be most welcome, I'm sure.

Best,

David
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ArtspaceBAVPATour d'Neglect - 2007Woodlawn Row Housesfaqmy flickr
the creativity exchangeCEOs for Cities