Last July - see, Suburbs in the City Part I - a $5m housing project was announced. Rev. Darius Pridgen from True Bethel and Mayor Brown addressed the small crowd. By December the eight houses that stood in the way were demolished. See, Part II. I checked the site the other day expecting to see some signs announcing the project. Nothing.
At last year's press event and as reported by Buffalo Rising - here - the project was scheduled to have been completed this past July.
The demolition is expected to be over in a few weeks, and the new homes the Reverend described as West Coast eclectic should be fully completed at this time next year. "This won't be the type of housing you would typically see here," Rev. Prigeon said, "but the residents should be very proud.
Located at the end of Woodlawn Avenue, the site is one block away from the chemical and toxic dump that was part of the Michael Heyman Company lead smelting and refinery from 1917-1978. According to the DEC, 858 East Ferry Street was partially remediated in November 2007, see - East Ferry Street Superfund Site.
The experience and persistent auto-immune health problems involving residents in this East Ferry/Grider Street neighborhood are well documented. Ujima Theater hosted Behind the Fence in 2007, a theater performance that brings lupus and lead poisoning linked to this toxic location into focus. Last year WBFO's Bert Gambini, in a riveting interview, talks with Donna Jackson Nakazawa - here, on Meet the Author. She wrote Autoimmune Epidemic: Bodies Gone Haywire in a World out of Balance - and the Cutting-Edge Science That Promises Hope (2008) - about this neighborhood.
Word from City Hall is that there are no environmental concerns at this location relating to the toxic lead refinery and its environmental legacy. According to Masten District Councilman Demone Smith's office the city paid for the eight residential demolitions. There's still no announcement on True Bethel's site and no groundbreaking date has been established for the new builds according to Demone Smith's office. Calls to True Bethel have not been returned.
Artspace • BAVPA • Woodlawn Row Houses • fixBuffalo flickr
Creative Class • Shrinking Cities • Saturdays in the Neighborhood