Saving Coe Place - Part I

Now is the time to help lend a hand to help save and preserve a very unique part of Midtown and Buffalo's near East Side. It's a classic.

In October, at the City of Buffalo Property Tax Auction, Belmont Shelter, a 501(c)3, purchased 19 Coe Place. Research indicates that 19 Coe Place is eligible for historic preservation. It is now properly called, the Hamilton Ward House. Chris Hawley has completed extensive research about the property and is also the primary author of a City planning document - Midtown: Poised for Renaissance. He presents a clear and compelling case for the need to preserve the existing homes on Coe Place, including the Hamilton Ward House. Chris writes:

Coe Place is the most historically and urbanistically significant street in the Midtown neighborhood. At one time a brick pedestrian pathway, converted to a residential street by a quixotic nineteenth-century skating rink operator, Coe Place is a charming, very narrow street, originally no more than fifteen feet wide, lined with a collection of close-knit Queen Anne-style houses whose singular attributes are unmatched anywhere else in Buffalo. Read the rest...
Coe Place has the potential to be one of the first streets east on Main to be rediscovered and restored by middle income owner-occupants. Its intimate charm derives from its modest, Queen Anne and vernacular frame houses on small lots on a gentle hill, built right up to the right-of-way, a sociable urban design reminiscent of the slopes, cottages, and narrow lanes of the Chautauqua Institution. Expanding existing parking lots, which offer no amenity to the neighborhood, would undermine the fledgling residential redevelopment. - Cynthia Van Ness
Unfortunately the current owner, Belmont Shelter - Buffalo's progressive housing agency and future property manager of Artspace - would like to demolish the Hamilton Ward House and turn the property into a parking lot.
On this Thursday's (6/22/06) Preservation Board agenda:

Application to Demolish: 19 Coe Place: Owner (Belmont Shelter)
proposes to demolish to grade a 2.5 story frame dwelling, grade/seed lot

Hamilton Ward House - 19 Coe Place Hamilton Ward House - 19 Coe Place Hamilton Ward House - 19 Coe Place 'Hamilton Ward House' - 19 Coe Place - Buffalo, NY
click to enlarge

I've been living on Coe Place for more than two years now. This is a neighborhood, a community. We know each other here by name and by habits. We speak to each other directly, both in agreement and in dispute. I can not work in the yard without having a series of friendly conversations with neighbors and passers by. Coe Place has that connection and feeling that is one key goal of living in modern built space. At the same time, Coe Place has the sweet flavor of Buffalo's history. What we have here is rare, precious- something that can not be recreated. We need to do more than preserve a few tattered shreds. We all need this place, and other places like it, as living examples of what is possible. - Roy Cunningham
Belmont Shelter's most recent tax return, aka a 990 financial report, filed on November 21, 2005 is available, right here. It's 20 pages long (.pdf file) and full of very interesting information. Page 4 lists the following individuals as Officers, Directors, Trustess and Key Employees.
  • Elizabeth Huckabone - 96 Doncaster Kenmore, NY 14217 - President
  • Jeffery Nowacki - 4633 Deerfield Road Hamburg, NY 14053
  • Bruce C. Baird - 331 Lincoln Parkway Buffalo, NY 14216
  • Mike D. Riegel - 178 Schimwood Court Getzville, NY 14068 - Treasurer/Exec. VP
  • Kathy 0'Brien - 80 Lein Road West Seneca, NY 14224 - Vice President/Director
  • Rodney Richardson - 688 Crescent Avenue Buffalo, NY 14216
  • Glendora Johnson - 1195 Main Street, Buffalo NY 14209
  • Evelyn Pizzaro - 97 Ava Lane Williamsville, NY 14221
  • Christopher Jacobs - 1195 Main Street, Buffalo NY 14209 (Chris is New York State's Secretary of State)
Belmont Shelter is also interested in buying three additional vacant lots on Coe Place 17, 21 and 27 Coe Place. One must assume that sodium vapor lights will be added to an ever increasingly larger parking lot. Council Member Brian Davis - for Coe Place - heads the City's finance committee. We have just learned that the recommendation from Chief City Planner Tim Wannamaker, clearing the way for the purchase of these three vacant lots, will be tabled at Tuesday's (6/20/06) finance committee meeting.
Vacant Lots = Parking Lots
21 Coe Place - Buffalo, NY 17 Coe Place - Buffalo, NY 27 Coe Place - Buffalo, NY
click to enlarge
Residents of Coe Place are in complete agreement and oppose the expansion of the Belmont Shelter parking lot, the purchase of three additional vacant lots by Belmont Shelter and they are also against the demolition of the Hamilton Ward House.
Coe Place - buffalo, ny
A number of private investors have approached me and asked if the Hamilton Ward House is for sale. At least one local business man, with an impressive track record of renovation in Buffalo has been thwarted every step of the way in his attempts to negotiate, save and rehab the Hamilton Ward House. A local architect, who is beginning the rehab of three Coe Place properties and also has an impressive track record in the rehabilitation of historic Buffalo homes, fails to see the City's logic, along with the rest of us, in not marketing the vacant property and the Hamiltion Ward House to residents and owners interested in preserving the unique character of Coe Place.
So, please take a moment to write the Preservation Board prior to Thursday's meeting ( or e-mail your letters to me) and express your desire to keep the unique character of Coe Place intact. Please call your Council person (851-4200). Sending a letter to Belmont Shelter Board Members - above - would be a significant contribution in preserving Buffalo's unique architectural heritage and dynamic urban character. If you know any of these board members personally, please make the phone call.

Belmont Shelter - 884-7791
developing - Check back soon for petition campaign!

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