8/25/2009

Another One - 311 Genesee, Gone.

I spotted the demo crew on Genesee Street this morning. Despite a recent last minute plea by David Steele/Buffalo Rising - see The Red Mark of Death and Neighborhood in Waiting - that drew dozens of comments, 311 Genesee Street came crashing down this afternoon.
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The City of Buffalo has owned this classic late 19th century mixed use building since October 2007. When I poked around 311 at that time - pics, here & here - it seemed to be structurally sound and straight. Today, without Preservation Board approval it was demolished.
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click image to enlarge
I had a moment to speak with the owner of the adjacent building, 313 Genesee. He described today's demo as bitter/sweet. While he's developing his building into a number of artist lofts after purchasing the building from the City for a song, we talked about the wholesale lack of anything that resembles an effective marketing strategy of City owned real estate.
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One question that seems to be rarely asked - should it be? - is what sort of city do we want to live in? I mean who's deciding that structurally sound buildings that evoke walkable neighborhoods and multiple uses should be sent off to a landfill? If these buildings are going to be desirable in the future - where's the strategy to mothball and save them for the market to catch-up? Is demolition the best course of action? Will some homogenized bland box replace this? These have never been rhetorical questions. They go to the heart of the matter and raise a set of questions about the long term viability of these structures in helping to create the sort of city we want.

It's been reported that the Preservation Board sent Mayor Brown a letter last week asking for an explanation as to why they weren't consulted on this demolition. There was no immanent public health risk - ie, falling bricks or a crumbling facade. As of this afternoon they hadn't received an answer as to why money wasn't spent mothballing this classic.

Here's the rest of this afternoon's pics - 311 Gone.
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ArtspaceBAVPAWoodlawn Row HousesfixBuffalo flickr
Creative ClassShrinking CitiesSaturdays in the Neighborhood

7 comments:

Michael Davidson said...

What a pity.

RaChaCha said...

David, this is outrageous -- I happened to be at the preservation board meeting where this building was discussed, and the decision made to send the letter to the administration to find out what's the deal -- and also to ask that no further action be taken toward demolition of this building without preservation board reveiw.

Glad you were on the spot to catch this going down.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that the emergency demo permit was issued way back in winter and suddenly it is demolished after BuffaloRising stired the pot.

olcott_beach said...

I just completed an MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) evaluation for 21 buildings located on ECMC campus.

This evaluation also included structural which is more or less the final decision for any buildings future.

This was a four-month evaluation process and, admittedly, the majority of the buildings are empty and have received little to no maintenance in 40+ years.

I determined, for various reasons, that 19 of the 21 buildings need to be demolished, citing mold remediation problems; major code violations and finally, structural deficiencies.

However, with that being said, not one of the buildings I evaluated had the aesthetically pleasing lines that this building possessed and I would challenge any City of Buffalo building inspector to put it in writing, as I did for ECMC, the reasons for this demolition.

Next time – call me because I do know what I am talking about.

fix buffalo said...

olcott beach - please shoot me an email when you have a moment, thanks. davidtorke@gmail.com


I learned today - while visiting City Hall's 3rd floor and Law Dept. - that the demolition price tag for 311 was $27,500. They city will bill the former owner and attempt to recover these funds. This is standard practice.

Michael R. Allen said...

Does the Preservation Board have citywide review authority in Buffalo?

In St. Louis, ours had citywide review until the Board of Aldermen voted to change it to ward-by-ward in 1999. Aldermen get to decide. Currently, we have 20 of the 28 wards participating. Six of the eight wards that don't participate are among the north side wards with the highest demolition rates in the city.

fix buffalo said...

Michael,

The City's Preservation Board does city wide review. Their decisions are recommendations only. Common Council members can play a valuable role in helping to identify structures that should be saved. They can also play a critically important and visible role in preventing demolition.

Your blog continues to be a daily read. At some point soon I'd like to devote a post to it.