Thanksgiving Day Walk - 2008

The neighborhood is really so quiet on a holiday, more than usual. I walked down Michigan Avenue to Laurel and wound my way to Masten Park. I walked by a number of places that had been demolished during the past year that shouldn't have been and a number of places that should have been demolished and haven't.
Laurel/Michigan - one block from Main Street. see more urban prairie pics
The Masten Armory is such an imposing place while Masten Park, built on top of a former reservoir that provided Buffalo's drinking water, offers some amazing views of the City.
Here's a few more pics and places that caught my eye while my fingers froze on this November afternoon.
ArtspaceBAVPAWoodlawn Row HousesfixBuffalo flickr
Creative ClassShrinking CitiesSaturdays in the neighborhood

Steps from Roswell Park

fixBuffalo readers may remember a series of posts about 204 High Street (google map). I first visited this place more than two years ago here, in September 2006. It's a fascinating spot, located one block from the medical corridor. 204 once housed a physician's office along High Street and an attached residence on Maple Street. While checking on some UB2020 and Kaleida Health developments in the neighborhood the other day, I took a closer look at 204 High Street.


Two years later, it's still standing. I've shown this place to a handful of people who've been interested in re-locating to this part of Buffalo.

IMG_1450 IMG_1445
Maple Street entrance on left and High Street entrance on right

204 High Street was part of a special City auction in September 2007.  It sold for $3800 yet the deal never closed. According to City Hall, it's still available. If you're interested, let me know. There's some interesting new development happening just blocks away - UB2020 and City Honors.

Here's a 204 High Street flickr series.
ArtspaceBAVPAWoodlawn Row HousesfixBuffalo flickr
Creative ClassShrinking CitiesSaturdays in the neighborhood

Welcome to The Hydraulics

The Hydraulics
Buffalo NY's newest blog - The Hydraulics - is out.
photo courtesy Chris Hawley

TheHydraulics.com is a blog devoted to news, people, places, histories, ideas, and events related to the Hydraulics, Buffalo's oldest manufacturing district and one of America's most important industrial heritage sites.

My name is Chris Hawley. I'm an urban planner and amateur historian who has taken a strong interest in the history and future of the Hydraulics. I work for Howard Zemsky, the investment guru whose vision transformed the vacant Larkin Terminal Warehouse into one of the most successful Class A office buildings in Western New York. I do special projects - whatever lands on my plate.

As part of my effort to write a comprehensive history of the Hydraulics, I thought it would be a cool idea to leapfrog that effort into a regularly-updated blog on all things related to the neighborhood's past, present, and potential future.

For more information, visit the introductory post on the Hydraulics and, of course, frequent the blog!

fixBuffalo readers already know the author, Chris Hawley. He wrote Midtown: Poised for Renaissance, a planning piece that's played a pivotal role in shaping the dialog around one of Buffalo's emerging new neighborhoods - Coe Place and Midtown.

If you do flickr, see what Chris sees with his camera right here.
ArtspaceBAVPAWoodlawn Row HousesfixBuffalo flickr
Creative ClassShrinking CitiesSaturdays in the neighborhood


Shooting the City

It's not often that you meet someone that helps you really shift what you see. This past summer I met a retired professor who reminded me about the value of perspective, how we see things. I've reflected on that meeting so often since and holding that lesson rather dear I ventured out the other day looking for a vantage point, a different place to see what I've seen hundreds of times - this Midtown neigborhood. I walked into a parking ramp, climbed the stairs and started shooting.

Here's our Lady of Lourdes, on Main Street. fixBuffalo readers may remember the recent auction at Lourdes this past September - right here.
Sort of crazy shot, right? Slightly odd, visiting a parking ramp with out a car. Anway...this afternoon I unexpectedly met up with the person who introduced me to that professor and we revisited the same lesson about perspective, vantage points - seeing the city as co/conspirators - and the importance of witnessing this place, our city, hemmorage and slowly maybe slowly piece its way back together from the brink. We need to be deliberate.

Meanwhile, I'll be visiting a few other parking ramps on the City's east side and keeping track of my ramp shots. As I compose my shots I will be remembering those lessons and words I heard this summer and again this afternoon.
ArtspaceBAVPAWoodlawn Row HousesfixBuffalo flickr
Creative ClassShrinking CitiesSaturdays in the neighborhood


Smart Code in the City

At dinner tonight Chuck Banas shared the website he's just developed. Chuck's been working tirelessly in creating the conversation locally for code reform and educating everyone in his path about the importance of implementing form based zoning here in Buffalo. Here's the site:

Form Based Zoning: A Blueprint for Buffalo's Future

This is an educational and outreach effort, intended to help build awareness and consensus around the issue of form-based zoning in the City of Buffalo. The focal point of the project is a presentation and lecture which is being shown to local leaders and community groups. An online version of the slideshow is also part of this website.

Please check the Newsroom for related news, scheduled presentations, and other events. If you’d like your organization to host a presentation, please feel free to contact us.

There are many other resources available on this website. Check the Resources page for links, documents, and downloads.
ArtspaceBAVPAWoodlawn Row HousesfixBuffalo flickr
Creative ClassShrinking CitiesSaturdays in the neighborhood


Buffalo News - Vacancy Data Base

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I'd forgotten about the vacant properties database the Buffalo News compiled recently - right here. You can search properties by street, street number and property type. Results are displayed in a modifed spreadsheet.

The only down side at this point is that the results aren't displayed in a graphically interesting way and lack the searchableness of a google map mash-up. If anyone has more information about some of the metrics used in compiling this database and whether it's updated on a continual basis, let me know.

Just how helpful is this?
ArtspaceBAVPAWoodlawn Row HousesfixBuffalo flickr
Creative ClassShrinking CitiesSaturdays in the neighborhood


Sycamore Village - Opening

I missed the opening. Nice garage!
update - 11/22/08
Don't miss the thread at SpeakupWNY about Sycamore Village - right here.
While I'd never begrudge anyone an affordable, clean and decent place to live - sometimes you just got to wonder where the priorities are, or in this case, where they've been. The point is this. Closer to the downtown core along so many blocks between Genesee and Broadway and west of Jefferson, there are neighborhoods that were started years ago with some of the most amazing residential urban infill we have in the city. There are streets lined with modest brick duplexes and singles. Houses that fit the city and streetscape and routinely sell in the $60-80K range. Between many of these houses are gaps that need to be filled to create the sort of urban density that could potentially attract retail and commercial development. Simple.
Sycamore Village
Instead, City planners leap frogged that area and built houses that are ostensibly designed to lure suburban residents to the city and in this case, away from the core and away from downtown. While cool houses like this - corner of Monroe and Sycamore - were demolished to make room for the first phase of these heavily subsidized new builds, it will be interesting to track what the new residents are leaving behind when they move to Sycamore Village. Many veteran observers have told me that new builds along William and Clinton Streets are directly linked back to areas of the city like Hamlin Park - a game of musical chairs. No doubt an interesting trend, where one part of the city grows at the expense of another.
Same Spot - Three Years
2006 • 2007 • 2008
The other long term issue that's looming has to do with environmental issues involving the site's remediation. For the first time I spent some time this afternoon in the Hickory Woods neighborhood, off Hopkins Street. In August I visited Love Canal. Twice in recent memory municipalities have pushed and marketed housing on contaminated sites. Any thoughts on what the story here at Sycamore Village might be in the years ahead?
The other issue is the immediate area's new build foreclosure history. I covered part of that disturbing trend here and here recently. New builds available for the second time around are selling for a fraction of their original sale price!
Lots of questions - why here, when the actual construction costs exceed $205,000/house - and no answers. Here's a flickr stream - Sycamore Village - with site construction pics.

Let me know what you think. Thanks.
ArtspaceBAVPAWoodlawn Row HousesfixBuffalo flickr
Creative ClassShrinking CitiesSaturdays in the neighborhood

UB 2020 and the City's East Side

I must confess, I've never understood if UB 2020 is supposed to be a time-stamp or some sort of vision statement. BuffaloRising recently linked to UB's Comprehensive plan - right here. Great comment stream! Anyway, while looking through the links on the B/R post I arrived here - Building UB - an amazing flickr series with links to many of UB's planning pics and sketches. There's a growing comment stream associated with every pic.

This pic, from the Downtown Campus set, depicts UB's future expansion just east of Main Street and immeadiatly south of the Artspace neighborhood. What's interesting here is the green shaded area just east of Michigan Avenue, between Goodrich and North streets. There are a number of existing structures here and after a first read through UB's website, I couldn't locate what's planned for this area.
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click for larger image
Make sure to check out additional images here. Before the next Artspace Neighborhood Walk, I'll go over and check out a number of structures on that Michigan Avenue block. Really fascinating as the $40 million reconstruction of City Honors High School is adjacent to this site, on the other side of North Street.

Maybe by 2020 we'll see things right, 'till then things seem slightly blurry.
ArtspaceBAVPAWoodlawn Row HousesfixBuffalo flickr
Creative ClassShrinking CitiesSaturdays in the neighborhood

Bridge Construction - Update

Last week a fixBuffalo reader asked about the pedestrian bridge linking the new UB Bioinformatics building and Hauptman Woodward. While leaving one of my favorite spots on Ellicott Street the other day - Ulrich's - I saw a couple people walking along the bridge, for the first time!
I have no idea when the long awaited completion date is supposed to be. If anyone knows more about this project, please let us know. fixBuffalo readers may remember a short series of posts about this development - Bridge Contstruction, What's (Not) Up? - from earlier this year and last.
ArtspaceBAVPAWoodlawn Row HousesfixBuffalo flickr
Creative ClassShrinking CitiesSaturdays in the neighborhood


City Honors Update - Day 106

The foundation for the new natatorium is taking shape on the former front lawn of City Honors. Construction workers were laying the foundation's forms this week.
Here's a peek inside the pool.
I'll be adding pics to this - City Honors - flickr series on a regular basis in the weeks and months ahead.
Check out the City Honors archive for additional information and previous posts.
ArtspaceBAVPAWoodlawn Row HousesfixBuffalo flickr
Creative ClassShrinking CitiesSaturdays in the neighborhood


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...
  • Sometimes a city's influence goes beyond its borders well into the region. Our guests this week both work with this idea of the global influence of cities. Saskia Sassenis professor of sociology and a member of the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University. Her work focuses on globalization and global cities.
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.


Mid-Week Ask...

Once a week, I'll be asking fixBuffalo readers for additional advice and insight into what's happening in our shrinking city. If there are issues that intersect with cultural, economic and urban developments that are happening elsewhere that you think might be important for fixBuffalo readers to know about, please share.

This might include pics, links and stories that are happening across the country or on other parts of the planet that are important somehow to urban life; local or global material that you think other fixBuffalo readers might like to know - let me know. Going forward, think of this as an open forum of sorts about urban living. Thanks.
ArtspaceBAVPAWoodlawn Row HousesfixBuffalo flickr
Creative ClassShrinking CitiesSaturdays in the neighborhood


1572 Jeffeson - Another Missed Opportunity

update 11/12/08...10:30am
I'd forgotten about this post over at
Buffalo Rising from 5/13/08 - Separated at Birth - that focused
on the plight of 1572 Jefferson.
While researching and writing about Lyth Cottage - see archive - two years ago, I noticed this amazing house at 1572 Jefferson. It was located just a few blocks from Canisius College and around the corner from Mayor Byron Brown's residence.

Last week it was demolished.
The City of Buffalo owned 1572 for the last two years. I've written about it - here recently and here in August 2006 and I've shown it to a handful of interested individuals. Here's an interior set of pics from one of the showings last September. While updating my Lyth Cottage pics - here - last week I was sort of stunned to see that it had disappeared, trucked to a landfill.

While there are a number of exciting rehab projects at various states of completion here in Cold Springs and Buffalo's Midtown, there's a rapidly dwindling inventory of vacant city owned houses that remain ripe for rehab. Recently we've lost two significant city owned houses that I'd previously written about and shown - 115 Northampton and 93 Riley Street. Both of those houses were significant for various reasons but most importantly they were located with in the footprint of the Artspace neighborhood. Two places, like 1572, that should have been moth-balled. While demolition is final, properly mothballing significant houses like these buys time for the market to catch up.
Please join me next Saturday for a walk around Artspace - here's the post - and see for yourself what's happening over here in this emerging neighborhood.
ArtspaceBAVPAWoodlawn Row HousesfixBuffalo flickr
Creative ClassShrinking CitiesSaturdays in the neighborhood


Neighborhood Walk

Four fixBuffalo readers joined me this morning on the regularly scheduled Artspace neighborhood walk. We saw a number of really cool rehab projects in the neighborhood. Click into this flickr stream - Walking Artspace - for the latest pics.
While we were waiting for everyone to gather at the Sonic Cafe, we were joined by a local real estate broker who shared the exciting news that Artspace may be looking for another location, just a block away - right here.
If you're interested in what's happening over on Coe Place and around the Artspace neighborhood, please join me in two weeks - here's the schedule.
ArtspaceBAVPAWoodlawn Row HousesfixBuffalo flickr
Creative ClassShrinking CitiesSaturdays in the neighborhood