Woodlawn Row Houses - Looking for Love, again...

The 'Woodlawn Row Houses' were built in 1896 at a time when electric street lights were first installed in the Queen City. At the time they were part of a larger collection of row house developments in the Cold Springs neighborhood. Two and three story units dotted the street scape and were strategically located mostly on corners. Some of these 'rows' were wrapped in 'L' fashion around a corner. These structures (now demolished - 1997, despite 'local landmark' designation) at Laurel and Michigan were just one example.
When I bought a neglected and vacant row house in the City's Cold Springs neighborhood 13 years ago I developed an interest in the remaining sets of row houses in the area. The Emerson Row and the Woodlawn Row (then occupied) were just a block away and were the last remaining row houses in the immediate neighborhood, a neighborhood that once contained 15 sets of row houses and maybe the largest concentration of this type of housing in the City - see map. Fifteen sets had dwindled to three.

Yesterday I heard from Urban Development Partners LLC, the successful bidder at the September 22, 2007 special auction that the City held for a select list of properties. After a number of promising attempts at pulling together financing for this project, Jason at UDP told me the project has ground to a halt. They've bailed. fixBuffalo readers may remember this announcement from a year ago - Another Save... - where I'd announced that the Community Preservation Corporation had provided extensive financing for the rehabilitiation of the project.
Located less than 100' from the new $35 million home for the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts, around the corner from the African American Cultural Center and a few blocks away from the new Merriweather Library the Woodlawn Row Houses were given 'local landmark' status by the City's Preservation Board in 1981. Located at 147 Woodlawn, the adjacent City owned vacant lot could be bundled with this project.

I began taking pics in March 2004 and documenting the long slow process of 'demolition by neglect' at this location. While taking dozens of people through the row houses over the years, the structures remain viable and the rehabiltion of this row remains a very real possibility. About 15 years ago the original four two story units were split and the long term owners turned the Woodlawn Row Houses into eight apartments.

Over the last four years three different groups have stepped forward and have attempted this project. Everyone has tried to retain the current eight unit configuration. Perhaps a new strategy is in order here. Returning the structure to its original form - four units, removing the siding, doing a fun exterior paint job that would clearly indicate four seperate houses and moth balling three units while working on one - might provide the right direction for the 'diy' self-financed plan for the successful rehab of this unique spot. Moving slowly through the project might be the right mix of energy, resources and time to resucitate the Woodlawn Row Houses.

If you're interested, let me know.
ArtspaceBAVPAWoodlawn Row HousesfixBuffalo flickr
Creative ClassShrinking CitiesSaturdays in the neighborhood


STEEL said...

Or how about this idea. Tear down the 4 buildings and build one plastic house in their place. That way the city would get some new green space.

Nate Neuman said...

Or we could just raze them for greenspace without the house. Nevermind the crumbling shanties elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Lets work on a realistic plan and get it done. The Buffalo Public Schools McKinley High School Construction Program has entered into an agreement with Bethel CDC to bring their new construction single family home to av vacant lot in the neighborhood and have begun a rehab program at Bethel's Day Care center. This looks like a woderfil opportunity for their participation.

skarecrow said...


Karen said...

We have the same problem here in New Orleans. They can't seem to prioritize, or even think half the time.

Far_too_Buffalonian said...

David - You have done a truly heroic job of bringing attention to these houses and securing the property over the years. I commend you for your efforts.

Do you have any pictures of the inside of the houses? Is there a reasonable chance of these houses being restored or are they too far gone due to vandalism and neglect?

Taking on a project like this is outside of the scope of one person, but I'd love to participate in a cooperative effort to secure and restore this building. I don't see it happening any other way, the building and area probably wouldn't warrant investment from a for-profit development company as it is not economically feasible. We would need to establish a more grass-roots, community level effort to really make this happen.

I'm in if we have support from others.

fix buffalo said...

Far too Buffalonian,

Thanks. Email me when you have a moment. davidtorke@gmail.com