11/30/2007

Byron's Discount Card

Saw this on Jefferson Avenue today.
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Called this afternoon to see what the program is about. Anyone know who's paying for the billboard? Has anyone spotted these signs in other places? Let me know.
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11/29/2007

'Industry' for the Holidays!

Sean Galbraith, Toronto based photographer and urban planner, clued me into his first book, just in time for this holiday season. fixBuffalo readers may remember Sean's work over at the German Roman Catholic Orphan Home down on Dodge Street here in Buffalo - right here.
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You can buy Sean's first book - Industry - and have it delivered by December's end.

Urban decay and demolition by neglect is present in all urban settings. All buildings have a story, a history, a life, and a death. Industrial factories rust. Office buildings slowly crumble. Residential buildings are reclaimed by the elements. It is a rarity that these building evolutions are witnessed by those outside their walls. Sean seeks to go where many have gone in the past, but few go today. To explore, embrace, and bring sight to these spaces and environments from which others avert their gaze.

To document that which once was kinetic, but now lies dormant and decaying; Even with man-made objects, death is a part of life and has its own beauty.

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Push this Plan...


Had the opportunity recently to invite, listen and record Aaron Bartley talk about what's (not) happening in Buffalo, NY. In this 45 minute presentation and q&a, recently held at the Landmark Society, Aaron discussed the amazing intersection of poverty and the built envrionment in Buffalo and presents PUSH Buffalo's 'Integrated Approach to Neighborhood Revitalization'.

Click and listen.

Have been a huge fan of PUSH Buffalo for the longest time. Same group that helped draw attention to the plight of Coe Place in November 2006, here. fixBuffalo readers may also remember that Aaron appeared in the Queen City Farm film, too.
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11/23/2007

14 Years Later...

Read this past week in the Buffalo News that William Trezevant has completed nearly 75% of the work on the exterior of recently renamed Transfiguration Church. So went out yesterday to take a closer look at the new Sounds of Joy building.
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Roofing and window repairs on the former Transfiguration Catholic Church are about 75 percent complete, and efforts are under way to obtain government funding for interior renovations, the principals of the effort said Wednesday.

Court proceedings involving the 19th century structure were delayed again Wednesday.

Paula Nowak, a retired special investigator for the federal Government Accountability Office in Washington, D.C., and her son, Buffalo attorney William F. Trezevant, said the repair work is expected to be completed by the end of this month. read the rest...

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I've archived various posts and information about this place - Transfiguration Archive - and will be keeping an even closer eye on the work and latest court date.

14 years is a long time...
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City's Newest Superfund Site

Last March I stumbled upon the burned out and rotted hulk of a two story warehouse building sitting near the railroad viaduct at 202 Walden Avenue [google map]. Wrote about it here - What if? - and followed up in May with - Wide Open...Why? Found the place to be secured today, more than a year after a devastating fire ripped through this place, the former home of Bandag Tire.
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Couldn't help noticing the construction trailer and fencing oppostite the former Bandag site recently and quickly noticed the EPA Superfund signage, too.
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Here's the facility detail report from the EPA site. Rather amazing as this place is located next to two city schools and has been 'wide open' for the better part of a year.
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click image to enlarge
Will call on Monday to get the update, 'till then anyone know more about this? Any estimates on the cost of the building's demolition or who's going to pay? Let me know.
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11/20/2007

40 Miles Away...still!

Remember Perrysburg?

Was tipped off to the following article that appeared in the Buffalo News last week by a new fixBuffalo reader.
Buffalo’s plan to sell property it owns in Perrysburg to a logging company has been voided by a state appellate court.

The 649-acre site, once home to Buffalo’s tuberculosis hospital, has been the focus of a three-year dispute. Preservationists have battled plans by Buffalo and the state to allow Trathen Land Co. to acquire the former J.N. Adam Developmental Center.

Trathen has promised to manage the woodlands “responsibly” through sustainable logging. read the rest...
And today I received the following letter from Peggy Watkins, Perrysburg resident:
The “friends of JN Adam” have claimed a court victory in stopping of the sale of the JN Adam property in Perrysburg. Who is this victory for? The residents of Perrysburg? The residents of the City of Buffalo? The taxpayers of the State of New York?

The on line petition of the “friends” has 113 valid signatures. 8 of these signatures are from residents of Perrysburg and the surrounding communities. Several are from out of state, most are from Buffalo or Depew or Amherst. read the rest...

I first visited Perrysburg in January 2005 and quickly became interested in various issues surrounding what I've previously described as municipal malfeasance. Bottom line still - we can't even take care of our own backyard, I mean since this debacle down in Perrysburg began, Buffalo got a Control Board and vast areas of the City's east side have continued to burn out of control. Why are we so arrogantly inserting ourselves in the life of a community 40 miles to the south? We can't get things right a mile from Elmwood...so why are we trying so hard down in Perrysburg, NY - 40 Miles away?

Road tripping soon, for updated pics. Meanwhile here's January 2005 flickr slide show.

And here's the Perrysburg Archive. This is not going away anytime soon...stay tuned.
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11/14/2007

Smart City.

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Completey forgot about this segment of Smart City Radio...

Smart City is a weekly, hour-long public radio talk show that takes an in-depth look at urban life, the people, places, Create Documentideas 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 Last weekend...listen here!

Even America's most depressed downtowns are showing vigorous signs of life. It's a surprising development no one predicted in the bleak years of the 1970's and 80's when many so-called experts dismissed the idea of downtown revitalization as wishful thinking in the age of surburbanization.
  • Dave Feehan, who heads the International Downtown Association, is here to tell us how downtowns have defied predictions and come back strong. David has devoted more than 35 years to rebuilding and revitalizing cities, directing downtown programs in Des Moines, Detroit, and Kalamazoo, and neighborhood development programs in Pittsburgh and Minneapolis.

  • Also with us is Dennis Maher, a sculptor working in Buffalo who brings new life to abandoned buildings by using the waste of other restoration projects. Dennis defines his work as "afterlives, the attempt to renew and to give another life to the wasted remains of a city." Dennis is an adjunct professor at the University at Buffalo.

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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Sycamore & Herman - One Last Time

I was recently introduced to Verlyn Klinkenborg's The Last Fine Time (1990). It's an amazing read if you're interested in post-war Buffalo social history and the decline of once thriving neighborhoods and cities. Klinkenborg focuses on the lives of the people who made 'George & Eddies' an everyday destination at 722 Sycamore Street, corner of Herman. Today the corner is vacant.

722 Sycamore Street - Buffalo, NY
Seven twenty-two Sycamore Street looks like a patch where the very idea of property has been voided. Its vacancy is the sign of something larger than deeds. It resembles a Midwestern field where the stand of crops shows odd variations: the sign of a buried well or a bulldozed farmhouse or soil where there once grew a border of crabapple trees. This lot was Indian territory. It was part of the Great Northwest, a wheat growing region, the breadbasket of a very young nation. It was part of the rise of Buffalo. It was all the things it has been since those long ago days. Now 722 Sycamore Street lies fallow. - The Last Fine Time, p. 202
From a 1940 Sanborn Map image of the neighborhood.

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Here's the Amazon link - The Last Fine Time. Verlyn Klinkenborg is also a New York Times editorial board member. Here's some recent writing and his bio.
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11/13/2007

Air Buffalo - Part II

MJ has recently shared another extraordinary set of aerial photos involving some of Buffalo's most amazing industrial sites.
Air Buffalo - II
Slide show - Air Buffalo Part II

fixBuffalo readers may recall MJ's earlier slide show - Air Buffalo.
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11/12/2007

Suburban News...In the City!

fixBuffalo reader tipped me off to the following article inthe latest issue of one Buffalo's coolest weeklies - The Downtowner.
Update...11/20/07...931am If you're arriving here because of a link in the comment stream of a recent Buffalo Rising story - make sure to click through the Sycamore Village Archive and here or here, too. Some chilling foreclosure action in a few blocks adjacent to the Sycamore Village site. Like who wants to spend 180-200K and be saddled with a big mortgage when you could scoop up a new house for 13-20K?? Further signs of a stable neighborhood, huh?
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Here's the Sycamore Village archive to bring you up to date!
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11/08/2007

New from Buffalo ReUse

If you haven't checked out the latest from Buffalo ReUse, you really should. They're relocating to Buffalo's near East side at 298 Northampton Street near Jefferson [map].

Amazing new Buffalo ReUse blog. Check out some of their recent pics - Buffalo ReUse on Flickr.
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Tools and site navigation...

A few small house keeping items. You'll quickly notice that I've placed a new link in the template - latest blog comments which helps readers keep track of the dialog around some older posts from months and years ago.

I also learned that Google's blogging service, that I've been using since day one, now has enabled an email notification system for comments, too. Very easy to use so you can keep track of what's happening here without having to log in. Very brief explanation - right here - if you're not used to these things.

Rss feeds, bloglines and feedburner will still update you as we go along, too.
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11/07/2007

Down on Dodge Street, again...

I had an opportunity to check in on one of my favorite sites this morning, down on Dodge Street. Every building here remains wide open.
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The Community Action Organization of Erie County has owned this place for almost four years. Brian Davis - City of Buffalo Councilman is the President of the CAO's board. No Housing Court for the CAO, wonder why?
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Check out the German Roman Catholic Orphan Home's archive, for additional information and pictures, inside and out.

Here's an overview of the entire complex.
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Sycamore Village Neighborhood Foreclosure

Just learned that another Sycamore Village area vinyl-victorian has been taken back in a bank foreclosure. This house at 466 Monroe Street was first sold for $86,500 in 2004. Citimortgage took it back recently - mortage balance and fees placed this foreclosure at $96, 600. The City has assessed the property for $66,500.
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So, will someone please help me understand why the City is constructing a suburban development just a block and half from 466 Monroe.

Bank is Citigroup. Wonder why they are taking hits? Mortgage melt-down begins right here on Monroe Street. Place will probably re-sell somewhere in the mid 20's.

Remember 241 Monroe, from last week?
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Running Buffalo - Part II

Posted about RUN Buffalo recently - Running Buffalo - this past August. Late last week I received a press release from the folks at New Era Cap, one of RUN Buffalo's corporate sponsors asking for volunteers to help out with the landscaping over here on Sycamore Street.
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fixBuffalo readers may remember this post - Buffalo's Death Row - from summer 2006, where Yvonne Peterson's body was found in the partially boarded City owned house at 830 Sycamore Street, one of the three houses recently demolished here.
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Well those three houses, on one of the most devasted sections of Sycamore Street, are in the landfill. RUN Buffalo will be maintaining the vacant lots, for like forever. Very interesting arrangement and am wondering who actually owns the property. Anyone know who actually paid for these three demolitions?
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New Bethel Building...

Progress on Bethel Headstart's new child care center here at the corner of Jefferson and Woodlawn.
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fixBuffalo readers will remember that Rev. Stenhouse is guy behind the scene with this project. I recently profiled some of his other work here and understand that the Buffalo News will be following up on his Housing Court case, very soon.

Will be keeping tabs on both developments. This same corner looked like this, last week.
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11/06/2007

Niagara & Re-Thinking Cities...

Just in from the Toronto crew...
Register here for the conference and learn more about Toronto's Artscape and how other cities mix up art and older spaces. Sean from TO is a never ending source for information here about Florida's Mega.

I visit Florida everyday.
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11/05/2007

Who's Sydni?

fixBuffalo fan tipped me off to this link on the City of Buffalo site - The Sycamore Village Experience!
Sycamore Village
Check out the various descriptions and floor plans - here.
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I've been keeping track of the Sycamore Village experience - Sick Yet, Part II. So, who's Sydni?
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Buffalo's Newest Partnership

Julie Barrett-O'Neill, Buffalo-Niagara Riverkeeper, just called my attention to an amazing new group here in Buffalo, NY that's organizing around some very progressive policy initiatives - Partnership for the Public Good.
The Coalition for Economic Justice (CEJ) has launched a Partnership for the Public Good (PPG) to promote a community-oriented vision of a revitalized Buffalo. CEJ is joined in this effort by other groups such as PUSH Buffalo, Buffalo ReUse, the Homeless Alliance of Western New York, and Buffalo First, as well as by faculty from Cornell ILR and the University at Buffalo Law School. PPG is a "think-and-do" tank that will perform research and advocacy and will support the efforts of the broad array of organizations working to revitalize Buffalo.
Various policy briefs are archived, here.
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11/01/2007

Following Glaeser...

If you haven't read Edward Glaeser's Can Buffalo Ever Come Back?, you should. Little bit of traction here and was later picked up by Buffalo Rising with a fire-storm of comments - 106 at last count - Teary Eyed Buffalo Bashing.
The conversation continues with Tyler and Alex at Marginal Revolution with a great comment stream. Noticed another thread at Sky Scraper Page, too. Just finished reading Deputy Erie County Executive Bruce Fisher's response to Edward Glaeser in the most recent issue of Artvoice - What Will it Take? way worth reading.

Let me know if I'm missing any other threads...
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Revisiting Florida

Sean from Toronto tipped me off to Richard Florida's newest blog Creative Class over at The Globe and Mail. Tip comes via post at Spacing Toronto. You'll want to add both of these to your daily read.
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If you haven't been following Florida's take on integrated regional plannig issues impacting Buffalo, make sure to check out the growing critique here - Putting the Buff in Tor-Buff-Chester.

Love this pic! Richard, Sean or anyone - have any more?
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