Received dozens of faxes, emails and phone calls this morning about a story breaking in Business First. Jim Pitts, former Buffalo common council member and Executive Director of Norstar has announced his intentions and desire to buy and rehab the most neglected City of Buffalo owned historic local landmark, the Woodlawn Row Houses.
When James Pitts walks around East Side Buffalo streets such as Woodlawn Avenue and Emerson Place, he doesn't see ramshackle, abandoned houses. He sees opportunity and hope. read the rest...
Jim Pitts
fixBuffalo readers already know that this set of row houses sits diagonally across from the front door of the new Performing Arts HS, ready to open this September [map].
"This," he said while walking down Woodlawn Avenue, "Is my hometown."

Pitts also wants to build homes and encourage small business development, using the September opening of the Buffalo Academy for the Visual & Performing Arts along Woodlawn Avenue as the focal point. The $30 million school, located where Woodlawn Junior High School once stood and before that, Offermann Stadium, is designed to encourage private sector development in the surrounding neighborhood.

Pitts wants to lead that charge.

"Since the school's project began, we've all heard how one of the side benefits was the encouragement of neighborhood developments," Pitts said. "Well, I want this to be an example of what can happen."

Very interesting...Rev. Stenhouse from Bethel CDC, one block away from the Woodlawn Row Houses, is the designated planning agency for this neighborhood and simultaneously owns the largest collection of blighted property surrounding the the new home of Performing Arts HS. Yet no mention of Rev. Stenhouse in the Business First article.

I've praised Rev. Stenhouse - Getting it Done in Masten - and have weighed in with criticism - Boarding Control - over his lack of stewardship and neglect, steps away from his door. Remember he's also the Secretary/Treasurer of Buffalo's very own control board. No Housing Court Rev. Stenhouse. Ever wonder why?

I'm looking forward to sitting down with Jim Pitts in the next few weeks to discuss various aspects of this project and will certainly be blogging the project's progress. Because this is Preservation Board designated local landmark, plans will be presented to the Preservation Board for review.

Excellent news for the City's near East side, especially as Performing Arts HS opens in less than 75 days!

I've been archiving the "demolition by neglect" of the City owned local landmark since March 2004 - Woodlawn Row House archive - mowing the lawn, boarding and re-boarding and promoting the possible sale to two groups of out-of-town investors. Finally...thanks Jim!
ArtspaceBAVPATour d'Neglect - 2007Woodlawn Row Housesfaqmy flickr
the creativity exchangeCEOs for Cities


gaiamama@hotmail.com said...

This is amazing news!

David, you are nothing short of a hero in my eyes and I know many who echo my feelings. You and other dedicated folks like you are a HUGE part of my decision to make Buffalo my home.

You have been a tireless advocate and have put your own blood, sweat and tears into the East Side and have kept it in the forefront when it could have easily disappeared from the collective consciousness.

I have to disagree with the guy who said you should run for Mayor. You are more effective OUT of office than most officials could ever be.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, having trouble with the login process today :)

gaiamama@hotmail.com=olygirl=Lori Hoffmann

Anonymous said...

Let's hope Pitts can pull this off. He takes credit for the Shoreline project and has it even started? More subsidized housing coming our way.

fix buffalo said...

Lori - Gaiamama,

Thank you for the kind words...when I started out - documenting the neglect here surrounding various aspects of the City's ownership of the Woodlawn Row Houses - I had no idea where or how things might turn out.

And of course I had no idea either that Artspace, Performing Arts, Queen City Farm and the new Merrieweather Library would become fixtures here on the City's near East side...

Still...a very long ways to go. Look me up when you get into town...

BuffaloSoldier said...

Outstanding news for this neighborhood. How good it is to see positive development occuring on the east side of Main Street for a change. My concerns are what type of development will be occuring here. As opposed to generic, subsidized vinyl houses - this presents an opportunity to develop something related to the arts. Building on the momentum of the new Performing Arts H.S. and Artspace, housing for artists and space/galleries for non-profit cultural groups should be encouraged. An area such as this has far less overhead costs then areas such as Allentown or the Elmwood Village. Careful attention to urban design must also occur with development being obedient to proper urbanist guidelines with a touch of design spice or creativity to reflect the 'artistic' flavor of the neighborhood.

David said...

Awesome, David I can't believe how calm your response was to this news! Mission friggen' accomplished! What next?
Thanks for the TLC that made it possible for someone to reuse this structure. Here's hoping Mr Pitts gets the ball rolling soon. I'll gladly call and harass his office if needed.
Great news.

Scott said...

Kudos to Mr. Pitts for throwing his hat in the ring! I, for one, would love to see more small business development and more of Buffalo's communities own money go right back into developing and strengthening the community as well as securing the safety of community members.
I'm sure we all stand behind the efforts and ideas of James Pitts.

robhandel said...

Fix Buffalo-

I have been looking at your website for about 2 years now, and this is such fantastic news. Great work...I am sure your endless press regarding the Woodlawn Row House's downfall added to the fire to save these buildings. As an out of towner but former WNY college alumni, I am estatic that Buffalo is slowly being stitched back together. Now, for the next block...

Jackson Heights NY

fix buffalo said...


Thanks for the kind words. When I started down this road, I'd imagined a "private" initiative as the best possible long-term solution to the Woodlawn Row Houses.

The City of Buffalo, and the East Side in particular, is a testament to government intervention and a whole series of failed initiatives that set out to change the course and socially engineer various places.

Neighbors are happy, too. As they understand that Pitts has a "can-do" and results driven track record. He gets praised by preservationists, too for his previous work.

Again, when I started out down this road, I had no idea that Artspace, Performing Arts and the new Merrieweather Library were even being considered.

We've come a long way. Really.

gabe said...

It's about time :)