7/11/2008

115 Northampton - Gone...

I pedaled by the remains of 115 Northampton Street today.
IMG_5697
This house was owned by the City of Buffalo since 2005. It sat square, had a seven year old roof and was located just around the corner from Artspace. Certainly this 3/3 double needed lots of work yet it was strategically located and a 'place maker' on the street. It never should have been demolished.
I first mentioned 115 Northampton here, two years ago. This is what it looked like then.
115 Northampton - Buffalo, NY
115 was an impressive part of the Artspace Backyard Tour, too.
IMG_9433
So why the demolition? Why now? Certainly places like this should be moth-balled and saved. While I've mentioned repeatedly, a certain level of triage has to be embraced on a practical policy level, as we simply can't save everything, places like 115 need to be set aside while the market catches up and/or the property can be properly marketed. A proactive Division of Real Estate Dept. would help. "For Sale" signs and some web presence would be a good first step.
Am I asking too much?
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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

thank byron brown for this "development" i should join pridgens church and get a welfare west coast suburban

RaChaCha said...

I remember this house from the Artspace Backyard Tour, and agree that the demolition seems unjustified - with so many other pressing demolitions, why would the City need to take this one, especially where there is a fair amount of reinvestment nearby--?

This reminds me of a house we tried to save from the List Of Death in My Fair City recently: it was a quadruple, on a corner where the City is investing in both a pocket park and rail-to-trail conversion, in great shape (it had been occupied as recently as 3 years ago, and the City inspector who went through the house with us couldn't find any structural issues and even said the roof was better than on his own house), and was full of craftsmanship such as hardwood floors, gumwood trim, and leaded-glass windows. The City's reasoning for the demo? They claimed the house would cost $250K to rehab (maybe so for a City contract, but certainly not for a sweat-equity investor), and the low property values in that neighborhood wouldn't justify that kind of investment anytime soon. So the house had to come down to prevent it from contributing to blight "in the future" (even though there were no issues with it at the time of demo). The whole thing seemed so counterproductive, shortsighted, and wasteful. The money spent to demo the building could have given a sweat-equity investor a jump start on getting the building back to use - not to mention bringing in some solid tenants to be eyes and ears for that particular corner.

Back to thinking about solutions: one of my favorites is making houses like 115 Northampton and the one I described above (in places where it makes sense, e.g. not on Ruhland Ave.) available to sweat-equity investors cheap, transferring some of the money that would have gone to demo toward home improvement grants/loans, and teaming up the sweat-equity investors with qualified community organizations or neighborhood associations which would help with training, advice, or even loaning tools for the rehab work (and even landlord training for those rehabbing multiple units).

After being involved with the vacant housing and neighborhood revitalization issue for a couple of years now, this is one thing that makes sense to me. Is this too simplistic--? Am I dreaming--? Could a landbank (as proposed in recent State legislation) establish a program like this--?

In both Buffalo and My Fair City, folks involved with these issues up close and personal like David Torke and Harvey Garrett seem to have a good sense of what's needed, but relatively little power. While conversely, the folks in power (at City Hall) don't seem to get it, or seem outright clueless. It's frankly very frustrating.

Anonymous said...

RCC- You expect some outside of the box thinking from City Hall? HAHAHAHAH. Your proposal, which makes far too much sense, would require the City Hall queens and kings to actually work, think, and maybe even show up. Much easier to keep pushing demo contracts out, rack up the demo numbers, and then say- "Look, we're making progress!" Meanwhile, where does this end? Will the area from Jefferson to Bailey be scrubbed clean? When does this crisis become a community priority? And they want to weaked the Control Board? Is this place nuts?