2/04/2008

Shrinking to Suburbia...

A number of very cool late 19th century buildings are ready to disappear in this ever amazing shrinking city of ours. All four of these buildings are viable and located on major public transit lines and next to existing assets in Buffalo. These four places go and you have to wonder what are we fighting for...more vinyl victorians, I know.

1610 Main Street has seen an endless stream of activity in recent years. A neighborhood resident purchased this late 19th century spot five years ago for $12,000. A fire ripped through part of the structure two years ago and recently Housing Court Judge Hank Nowak has approved an order for its demolition - index #380-2006.
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1610 is located near this wide open lot, that seems to be shovel ready and is very close to one of the coolest lofts on Main Street - In the Springs! - that I posted about a year ago.
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1610 in the background, just north of AutoZone
115 Chicago Street - aka, McBrides Irish Bar - was the recent focus of a story by Geoff Kelly over at Artvoice - Silver Lining, last week. I first wrote about it in September 2006 - Historic Buffalo on Ebay. Another very fast moving case of 'demolition by neglect'.
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1572 Jefferson Avenue is almost gone. The City of Buffalo has owned this since October 2006 and the demolition order stapled to the boarded front window is dated August 13, 2007. I've shown this house to at least three interested individuals in the past two years. I first wrote about it in August 2006 - right here about the same time I was reacquainted with the fascinating terra-cotta tile house at 16 Harwood Place.
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If I were starting over, I'd begin here at 1572 Jefferson Avenue. The adjacent houses are very well cared for, you're a few blocks from Canisius College and the back square addition with a flat roof would make an amazing deck.
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Then there's 1325 Michigan Avenue that I wrote about last week, again - Last Chance.

Four very cool places that will no doubt disappear from the streets of Buffalo very soon, from our consciousness abit later. Interested...hurry! Once these are gone...you know what's next, the continuing suburbanization of our city - aka, Sycamore Village. I know, some people call his progress.
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23 comments:

STEEL said...

unfortunately the people of Buffalo and WNY have no interest in their history and are in a rush to eliminate it in an effort to reach the lowest common denominator.

Anonymous said...

Steel,
I agree with you most of the time, but lay off the generalizations or I'm going to have to tear into you about preaching about Buffalo while living in Chicago. We are not all the backwards yokels you would have people believe. Some of us stayed or returned here and are fighting to make a difference. I, for one, can only live in one 1800s brick building. We could use some help, not criticism. Leave the grenade lobbing on BRO.

Anonymous said...

how old is 1572 jefferson? i dont recall ever seeing it, wonder what its former use was. And didnt the building near auto zone have one or two similar neighboring structures that were recently torn down (since 2000)?

George Thomas Apfel said...

1572 Jefferson was built in 1900 according to the property information on the city's website.

oldtimeconstruction said...

It was more likely built in the 1880's or 90's judging from the style. It is very similar in massing and details to a large collection built by one developer, the Caudell family. The one I used to own had signatures from the painter and the staircase builder dated fall 1883 and early 1884.

To read city assessment records, you'd think that about 50% of our housing stock was built in either 1900 or 1915.

STEEL said...

Anonymous #1

The few who recognize the importance of these buildings (you apparently being one) are heavily out numbered by those who don't give a damn. The evidence is overwhelming to that fact. To most in WNY these buildings represent only crime. Their history is irrelevant. I nice brand new powder blue vinyl clad building as a replacement would be a welcome sight to many unfortunately.

By the way, I have never stated or suggested that anyone anyplace is a backward yokel.

Eric said...

I have photos of 1572 Jefferson on Flickr. It's a great house; looks like the back "addition" was actually original to the house. There were four houses built as a set, only three remain, soon to be two.

sbrof said...

The sad truth is STEEL is right on this. It is like pulling teeth to get most people around here to even consider an old building should be reused.

Even by those people who see the results next door (workers at Zepto) still think they should just tear down their mansion and building something nice.. like the smart pill building across the street...

and no I am not exagerating. I have unfortunately heard these exact words on more than one occasion. Everything old is bad, will always be bad, end of story. This while they walk by the Granite Works buildings back to their cars.

sbrof said...

If most people did care about their historic buildings we would see a whole different approach to their reuse, to the demolition process, to the penalties on slumlord owners etc.

For every one building we do get saved (usually only temporarily) 5 more are coming down. It is just a matter of time before those on main get the wrecking ball, just like the Verner Building, just like HO Oats, just like, Wollenberg Elevators, just like Harbor Inn etc etc etc.

The story of Buffalo is slowly getting trucked away to Lewston.

fix buffalo said...

Housing Court didn't happen this morning. 1325 Michigan is adjourned 'till 2/27 at 9:30am.

If anyone here is interested in acquiring 1325 Michigan, let me know. Time is of the essence.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I agree with Steel.
Buffalo seems like a city determined to destroy itself. Sure these buildings are in sad shape but they weren't always. And then the celebrating that occurs (via blog comments for all those are worth) when one of them is demolished. Wow.
signed, Jefferson.

NSphere said...

I think that we need to be cognizant of what we have and preserve what we can, but 1610 Main needs to come down. I noticed you didn't show the side of the building with the knocked down wall and exposed insulation among other things. That building is dangerous. I admire preserving what we can, but a practical approach needs to be taken as well.

Demolition is not alway a bad thing. The now shovel ready site across from the Sidway building is finally seeing some interest from Clover.

Yes preservation of historic buildings should be a priority (there's too much we've lost already) but that doesn't mean we should shoot ourselves in the foot holding on to every piece of dangerous property.

fix buffalo said...

Nsphere...

The south side of the building appears to be in rough shape but it's my understanding that what you're referring to is actually part of a different building, one that was mostly demolished years ago.

Very much agreed about the practicability and the triage approach that's needed.

whywhywhy said...

Steel,

Your initial comment was unfair and anonymous 1 was right to call you on it. I don't generally agree with people who bash you and WCP for not living here, but it's not fair to make broad generalizations when you're not even here on the front lines.

People do care, but they are disorganized and overwhelmed. But I do have a question. Where the f&%k are the so-called Preservation Non-Profits? What has the Preservation Coalition, or Campaign for Greater Buffalo, or Landmark Society, done for any of us lately? It took the Preservation League of New York to finally bother to come all the way out here to get anyone in the organized Preservation community to say boo about the Peace Bridge plaza fiasco.

Where is everyone?

NSphere, If the Vernor building hadn't been allowed to deteriorate to the point where a dubious declaration of dangerous instability could be made by a building inspector without the Judge laughing at him, and if it has been available at a reasonable price someone other than Clover would have done something with that property long ago.

Look around. It's not all the old buildings holding Buffalo back, it's all the #*&&^$# shovel-ready sites.

sbrof, you are right, but miss the point. Those Zeptometrix folks hate the old buildings precisely because they have to walk by them to get to their cars. If the buildings weren't there they wouldn't have to walk to their cars, they'd be parked right next door.

bill said...

i am very interested in this building. do you have any idea how much the owner wants for this building? i live in florida, and i am an ardent preservationist. 1325 michigan is a charmer!!!

fix buffalo said...

Bill...

I'm not clear on what it would take to purchase 1325 Michigan from the current owner. She's in Housing Court and according to the clerk I spoke to this morning an agreement has been reached about the demolition. This of course means that she's agreed to spend money to have the building demolished. So...I'm assuming if someone were to take over the 'liability' this property presents to the current owner - sale price may be as little as $1...

If you are seriously interested in pursuing the matter please email me. My policy in helping people acquire distressed city owned property is simple. One, please have cash or access to working capital available for the project. Two, have a plan for the building.

I'm NOT interested in helping anyone who desires to sit on property in a speculative manner.

So...let me know.

bill said...

david, i have cash. i have saved several bungalows and a commercial building in st. petersburg, florida, from demolition. i have fought slumlords over the years. i have no intention of turning into one. the very high cost of florida real estate these days along with the disappearing possibility of finding private insurance are causing me to look in other areas of the country.
i realize that buffalo has many problems, but the real estate in your city is shockingly cheap.

bill said...

do you know the approximate square footage of this building and its lot size? is there any sort of parking lot or driveway? does the zoning allow for retail?

Anonymous said...

Wow. 1572 Jefferson very nice tons of potential. Doesnt look too far gone and people in surrounding homes seem to care. Very sad if this one goes.

STEEL said...

whywhywhywhy

You talk about the Preservation Coalition as if they are some paid staff someplace not doing their job. They are simply concerned citizens who volunteer their own time in an attempt to save Buffalo's precious and quickly dwindling heritage. So ask where they are on important preservation issues is the same as saying where were you and other's on these issues. These preservation groups are only as strong as the people who come forward to support them. In WNY that means they are weak because preservation is not an important issue for the majority of people living in metro Buffalo.

And just because a statement is general it is not necessarily false (or true) I very much believe that in general WNY'ers (most of whom don't set foot in the city on a regular basis(if at all) don't care anything about old buildings and would be happy if they were all removed. I would further say that most WNYers see these older buildings as a hindrance to development.

MJ said...

First we plowed over the near east side in hope of renewal and got nothing but a scattering of low income projects.

Then we went and plowed over a vibrant near west in hope of renewal and never got anything of value but more projects, and finally 40 years later the Health Now building. Yet we continue to demolish with no overall plan.

Steel is right on with his preservation insight about Buffalo. Everyone wants shovel ready lots and instant demolition even after 60 years of its failure.

The east side is very vacant. New builds will have their place when clustered. Rehabing significant structures such as this Jefferson adress need to be part of the plan to keep some of the character intact. Require any developer looking to take part in the subsidized housing nearby also rehab a certain number of significant houses nearby.

Anonymous said...

1572 Jefferson is a gem, I remember when David took me through it one time. Using one's imagination can be interesting. Reminds me of a lot of modest houses in older residential sections of Toronto, only there they sell for almost $1million+

These brick houses were built to stand the test of time and with the right TLC could be renovated into awesome places to live.

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