7/23/2014

Photo of the Day: 136

Exchange Street and Washington Street (google map).

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New York State's second largest city has one passenger railroad track.

Photos from this series are cross-posted on fixBuffalo's facebook page and archived here - Photo of the Day
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7/22/2014

Larkin Power House - Demolition or Preservation, Part III

The Common Council unanimously approved the application for the Larkin Historic District this afternoon. Read the approved application here: Larkin Historic District

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Howard Zemsky, the developer whose brainchild is the revitalization of the Larkin District, likely shared the most eloquent remarks at last Tuesday's public hearing before the Common Council. Here's an excerpt:
The extraordinarily rich architectural, economic, and cultural history of the proposed Larkin Historic District has been thoroughly outlined in the application and I won’t attempt to recount it here. What I can add with a strong sense of pride is that my partners and I reclaimed many key elements of this district twelve years ago, complete with all of the blight, abandonment, and deterioration of the buildings, which was only matched by the neglect of the public infrastructure particularly along Seneca Street. Without any customers or prospects at the time, without any public subsidy, and frankly without anyone else thinking that what we were doing made any sense, we set out to rehabilitate a building, then buildings and then a district. Today, there are more people working in the former Larkin Company buildings than were working at the peak of employment of the Larkin Company itself. 
We have watched one tenant after another be drawn to the unique character of these historic buildings and to the unique history that they represent. Every one of these buildings without exception contribute to the rich history and to the compelling and inspiring aesthetic that you feel when you are standing among them. Don’t ever underestimate the pride that people feel in actively participating in the renaissance of the Larkin District and by extension the city of Buffalo, by virtue of working there. The rapidly increasing popularity of the district as a place to work, as a place to live, and as a place for entertainment speaks volumes for the benefit of these historic buildings and for the environment that they help create. 
We all stand on the shoulders of others who came before us and dared to pursue their dreams. These buildings and the people therein represent an extraordinarily significant time in our city and region and the country. The Larkin District is at the epicenter of Wright’s works in Buffalo, of the genius of Larkin, Martin, and Hubbard, and the innovations they brought to American Industry, including lasting changes for the better in the relationship between employer and employee. Let’s not turn a blind eye to the countless untold stories of the people who built the Larkin Company, and who played such a significant role in building Buffalo. 
Sadly, not everyone sees these buildings in a historic context and not everyone sees themselves as stewards of the history that they represent, and not everyone feels a responsibility to the people that they represent. We lost one of Wright’s most significant works when the Larkin Administration Building was demolished in 1950. Even with the constant reminder of that tragedy literally staring us in the face on a daily basis, there are those who bring a cavalier attitude toward the buildings and their history, those who propose demolishing them. Please designate landmark status to the Larkin District which will help assure the future of this district and the future of these buildings. Please help preserve the inspirational legacy of the Larkin Company and of the many thousands of people who helped to build it.
Congrats to all involved! The Power House is saved!

Related posts: 
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Photo of the day: 135

Main Street and Dodge Street (google map).

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This is the changing face of Main Street.

Photos from this series are cross-posted on fixBuffalo's facebook page and archived here - Photo of the Day
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7/21/2014

Photo of the Day: 134

Curtiss Street and  Dover Street (google map).

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This is a view from the Belt Line towards Broadway.

Photos from this series are cross-posted on fixBuffalo's facebook page and archived here - Photo of the Day
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7/20/2014

Photo of the Day: 133

Jefferson Avenue and Peckham Street (google map).

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This is where the other half worships.

Photos from this series are cross-posted on fixBuffalo's facebook page and archived here - Photo of the Day
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7/16/2014

Saving St. Gerard's - Part I

Are plans to dismantle and relocate St. Gerard's Church now dead? I spoke with Patricia Chivers, Communications Director for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, GA, this morning. I asked her about the rumors circulating that THE BIG MOVE is now off, and asked about the status of fundraising and long-term plans for St. Gerard's.

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She seemed unaware that the Diocese of Buffalo is currently marketing St. Gerard's to other prospective buyers. She told me that the local parish has not provided an update for at least one year regarding the status of plans for the property, and promised a statement on the issue within two days.

Chrissy Lincoln, Director of Operations at Preservation Buffalo Niagara—the only preservation group that supported the deconstruction and Atlanta move four years ago—said she recently toured St. Gerard's and has been approached by the Diocese of Buffalo to help market the property to qualified buyers.

If you haven't seen St. Gerard's magnificent interior, take a moment and scroll trough local architectural photographer Jim Cavanaugh's stunning series. He's captured the splendor of this East Side treasure.

Stay tuned.

Related posts:


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7/14/2014

Photo of the Day: 127

Bailey Avenue and Warwick Avenue (google map).

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A former used car lot on Bailey Avenue remains empty.

Photos from this series are cross-posted on fixBuffalo's facebook page and archived here - Photo of the Day
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7/13/2014

Photo of the Day: 126

Broadway Avenue and Dreshler Avenue (google map).

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This is where the other half worships.

Photos from this series are cross-posted on fixBuffalo's facebook page and archived here - Photo of the Day
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7/12/2014

Photo of the Day: 125

Navel Avenue and Bailey Avenue (google map).

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There are no bike lanes on Bailey Avenue.

Photos from this series are cross-posted on fixBuffalo's facebook page and archived here - Photo of the Day
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7/11/2014

Photo of the Day: 124

Cloverdale Avenue and Bailey Avenue (google map).

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One of Bailey Avenue's original automobile showrooms remains boarded after Unique Boutique's closing.

Photos from this series are cross-posted on fixBuffalo's facebook page and archived here - Photo of the Day
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7/09/2014

Larkin Power House - Demolition or Preservation Part II

Developers Peter Krog and Jim Cornell have made it no secret that they want to demolish the Larkin Power House, first reported here.

Saved ! - 7/22/14

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When workers at the site were salvaging bricks from an exterior wall last April, Krog and Cornell were "blown in" by the Campaign for Greater Buffalo for beginning a demolition without a permit. A stop-work order was issued, and the Campaign prepared an application to designate the Power House and its neighbors as the Larkin Historic District. This would formally help preserve the sole visible remnants of Frank Lloyd Wright's work at the complex, as well as all of the remaining iconic factory buildings. Here's a map of the planned Larkin Historic District and a historic site map to further orient you to this development. 

The hearing will be on Tuesday, July 15, 2:00 pm, in the Common Council Chambers. You are urged to attend and, if possible, speak in favor of landmark designation. This building, or the landmark-designation process itself, must not come tumbling down.

Here is the Larkin Historic District application and supporting photo archive. It is fascinating reading. It includes a picture of renowned architectural historian Reyner Banham clambering up the Power House chimney. 

It is short notice, and the hearing is to occur during the workday, so it is difficult for many to attend. You can still make your voice heard by writing a brief note to the City Clerk declaring your support. These will go into the packets the Common Council will receive and be part of the public record.

The contact info is:

Gerald Chwalinski
City Clerk
1308 City Hall
65 Niagara Square
Buffalo, NY 14202

Please alert friends and colleagues who may want to support preservation of the Larkin Power House and the Larkin Historic District. Your support will be critical.

Related: Larkin Power House (4/23/14)

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7/05/2014

942 Humboldt Parkway: bank owned

Last week Zillow claimed that Buffalo, NY had the most stable real estate market in the country, with a zero risk of loss. The Buffalo News picked up and ran (uncritically) with the story, here.

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942 Humboldt (google map) was last sold for $63,000 in 1994. It's a 3000sf single-family home with four bedrooms and two baths and the city currently assesses this property at $37,000. The foreclosure is complete, it's bank-owned (M&T Bank) with an asking price of $12,900.

The real estate record and sales story of 942 Humboldt Parkway is not anecdotal. It's part of a larger trend of disappearing values and mortgage foreclosures that are locked in limbo with other zombie properties that define entire neighborhoods on the city's East Side.

So, what's up with the missing $50,000 in value? The house is located just two blocks away from one of the city's most important museums, schools and an Olmsted Park that has a fabulous and recently renovated splash pad. In addition, Humboldt Parkway has just been striped for bike lanes and one block away on Fillmore Avenue substantial street and sidewalk improvements - including bulb-outs, bike lanes, new granite curbs and tree plantings - are now complete.

So color me confused about the missing $50,000. The Buffalo News repeated Zillow's press release about real estate values in Buffalo, NY and yet the reality seems to be very different and slightly unforgiving.

Perhaps the asking price has something to do with the empty lot one block away where the city spent $18,000 to demolish 2 Girard Place five years ago. Or, maybe the lost $50,000 of value is linked to the Kensington Effect that makes sitting on the front porch nearly impossible.

Here's the Hunt Listing if you're interested in a possible purchase.

Related posts: Fixing the Kensington

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My weekly fix - week #5

Another dose of urbanity...

Metropolis Magazine covered this week's opening of the Frank Lloyd Wright Gas Station, here. The exhibit is Jim Sandoro's latest addition to an expanding collection at the Pierce Arrow Museum. Follow the museum's link for additional information about the project that remained unbuilt during Frank Lloyd Wright's lifetime.

At the other end of Lake Erie in Detroit this week, Anna Clark author of A Detroit Anthology (May 2014) has an Op-Ed in the New York Times - Going without Water in Detroit. Residents of Detroit have recently appealed to the United Nations for relief as up to 300,000 residents are facing water shut-offs. Detroit's water wars have prompted the formation of the Detroit Water Brigade and coverage of this human and urban disaster is now getting global coverage. The Guardian is reporting, here.

Copenhagenize has been following the construction and design development of the world's first elevated cycle track, here. This truly innovative project will elevate cycle commuting to a new high and set a new bench mark for bicycle infrastructure.

Moved By Grace, the attempt to plunder St. Gerard's one of the city's most exquisite architectural and cultural treasures by a suburban Atlanta GA congregation, has hit an inconvenient snag. It's been reported on a number of FaceBook posts that Preservation Buffalo Niagara was contacted by the Buffalo Diocese for assistance in re-marketing St. Gerard's. Chrissy Lincoln from PBN confirmed that contact and PBN has un-officially conducted tours of the church. Stay tuned.

Kosuke Okahara is working on a long-term project documenting the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. LensCulture recently profiled his series - From Emergency to Normalcy - which is part of his larger work Fragments/Fukushima. His work depicts life and death inside the exclusion zone. Okahara's riveting work evokes strong emotions and presents a challenge and a critical evalution of our dependency and reliance on the velocity of technological progress.

Related:  Week #1Week #2Week 3 & Week 4
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6/24/2014

Photo of the Day: 107

Genesee Street and Rohr Street (google map).

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The former Zoar Reformed Church, one the city's oldest wood-frame churches, was built (1906) when Genesee Street had few residents and a mostly rural character. 

Photos from this series are cross-posted on fixBuffalo's facebook page and archived here - Photo of the Day
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6/23/2014

Photo of the Day: 106

Suffolk Street and Roosevelt Avenue (google map).

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The city mowed this lawn because the owner didn't.

Photos from this series are cross-posted on fixBuffalo's facebook page and archived here - Photo of the Day
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