Glenny Drive: End of the road

The Glenny Drive housing projects, built in 1954 and abandoned in 1981, are finally coming down (Google map). The first of six, 7-story towers is being carted to the landfill by Apollo Dismantling Services of Niagara Falls, NY.


The Glenny projects, also known as the Kensington Towers, are to Buffalo what Pruitt-Igoe was to St. Louis and Cabrini-Green was to Chicago, and now joins these two icons of the urban renewal era as they're swept into the dustbin of history.


The site is slated for a senior living continuum care facility to be developed by Centerstone Development with a $5 million New York State subsidy. Centerstone is headed by Buffalo-based attorney John Giardino.   


Bethlehem Steel Administration Building: a stay of execution

Erie County Supreme Court Judge Kenneth Case has granted a 90 day stay in the case involving the the future of the Bethlehem Steel Administration building, the best example of any administration building for an extant industrial complex in Western New York. This photo is from  Steel Plant Museum.


During this period Gateway Corporation will fully explore the possible reuse of this heritage building.  fixBuffalo learned today that the completion of the National Register application that local preservationist Darren Cotten is currently writing will play a role in the building's future.  Darren is a founding member of the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group (LIHG). This newly formed preservation advocacy group recently convened a number of meetings with local attorney William Magavern, Jason Yots - preservation consultant and Lackawanna's Common Council President Henry Pirowski and the building's owner.  

During a recent meeting Jason Yots presented a compelling case involving the use of tax credit financing for a heritage reuse proposal. This proposal, along with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) recent decision to require a second survey of the building, has helped shape this new dialog around the building's future.   

I discussed the outcome of yesterday's court decision with a number of LIHG's founding members today. They were excited to know that the Court, City of Lackawanna and the building's owners are now on board with some of the best urban planning and preservation practices in the region.  In Buffalo we've learned that heritage building restoration often begins with bright shinning lights. The lighting of the Richardson Complex comes to mind. Imagine for a moment - removing the overgrown trees in front of the building and installing a few spotlights. The Bethlehem Steel Administration Building is an amazing building by day. It will be brilliant by night.

For additional images of one of the region's most amazing cathedrals of industry see these pics and especially this Facebook Group - Bethlehem Steel North Office Photography & Preservation - for some amazing interior photographs.

Related posts: Bethlehem Steel North Office Building - Part I, Part IIPart III & Part IV
                       Bethlehem Steel North Office Building ReUse Part I


Bethlehem Steel North Office Building - Part IV

Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski will now seek a one week adjournment in the case involving the  Bethlehem Steel Administration Building, according to Common Council President Hank Pirowski, who called today. Judge Kenneth Case hears the matter tomorrow morning at 10 am in Erie County Supreme Court. The adjournment will give both sides additional time to agree on the specific language for a longer stay providing Gateway Corporation additional time to explore its alternatives.

Bethlehem Steel Administration Building - Lackawanna, NY

According to Pirowski, the City of Lackawanna is willing to give adaptive reuse a second look. As early as yesterday, the Mayor's position was unwavering: seek immediate demolition.

The Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group has been working closely with attorney William Magavern, preservation consultant Jason Yots, and the building's owner to find alternatives to demolition. The fate of the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building was to be decided on Wednseday morning in Judge Case's court. There's hope for Old North.

Letters of support from Preservation Buffalo Niagara and William Magavern were sent to Judge Case.  
Stay tuned.

See: Bethlehem Steel North Office Building - Part I, Part II & Part III 
        Bethlehem Steel North Office Building ReUse Part I


557 East Utica - one week left

Local preservationist, artist and house historian Dana Saylor recently found this picture of 557 East Utica.  It's from the mid 1950's and depicts a gorgeous City residence.  
557 East Utica - Buffalo, NY
The negotiated 30 day demolition stay with City officials expires next Friday.  557 East Utica has one week left before it's trucked to a landfill. 

Please take a moment to circulate this post about 557 East Utica to individuals and groups in your networks.  There's a Buffalo Rising post and comment stream that appeared shortly after the announcement was made to halt the demolition.  Two other local preservationist bloggers picked up the story.  Kevin posted at Unbreakmyhouse and Mike Puma posted at Views of Buffalo

Please email me if you're interested in purchasing the house and presenting a qualified purchase offer.   Terry Robinson - Preservation Buffalo Niagara Board member - lives around the corner and has agreed to help a prospective buyer better understand the neighborhood.   You can reach Terry via email


557 East Utica - back from the brink

This afternoon Al Steele's demolition crews were ready to send this City-owned East Side masterpiece to the landfill.  557 East Utica (google map) has been City-owned since February 2010.  James Comerford - Commissioner, Department of Permit & Inspection Services asked Al Steele to wait - for 30 days - and agreed to stay this demolition.


I asked Julian Adams from New York State Office of Historic Preservation to weigh in on the significance of this City-owned residence.  Julian said: "557 East Utica is an outstanding example of how bold forms and ornament can make a house standout in a neighborhood.  The bold broken and scrolled swan's neck decoration in the third floor gable reflects both the colonial revival style of the period as well as the exuberance of the time in which it was constructed.  It adds a grace note to the street, being both a singular presence and part of a stronger historic neighborhood."


The slide show reflects a strong owner occupied neighborhood in the block of East Utica near Humboldt Parkway.  The level of investment in the last few years is palpable.  The houses at the corner  of East Utica - three doors away - are some of the best examples of restored residential dwellings on the City's East Side.  Below, neighbors discuss the fate of this magnificent home.

557 East Utica - Buffalo, NY

Two neighbors - both have purchased distressed houses in this neighborhood - were discussing the importance of finding a suitable buyer for 557 this afternoon.  In anticipation of the demo, Al Steele's crews removed large amounts of overgrown brush from the front lawn revealed the house's  beauty that's been dormant for decades.  Meanwhile three doors away here's a pic of the corner of East Utica and Humboldt Parkway.


Tom Yots, Executive Director of Preservation Buffalo Niagara weighed in on the conversation with Julian Adams this afternoon.  He suggested the this City-owned heritage residence may be eligable for the National Historic Register.  Both Dana Saylor and Mike Puma have agreed to help anyone with the historic research necessary to help make 557 their home.  Special thanks to Elizabeth Licata who fielded a phone call this morning from a neighbor who was disgusted and brought this pending demolition to my attention. 

We have 30 days to find a qualified owner for this City-owned property.  If you're interested in knowing more and would like to take a closer look, please email me.   I can also connect you to some of the residents who have been involved in renovation projects in the immediate neighborhood.  Please take a moment and spread this post through your networks. 


Bethlehem Steel: Public Hearing follow-up

The newly formed Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group hosted their first public hearing on the future of the Bethlehem Steel North Office building last week.  Artvoice covered the hearing and Spree Editor Elizabeth Licata discussed the public hearing with WBFO in this interview.  The full audio of the evening's hearing is now available.  
Public Hearing: future of the Bethlehem 
Steel Administration Building
Jason Wilson, project manager at Preservation Buffalo Niagara discussed how this and future preservation projects in the City of Lackawanna will benefit from the establishment of a "certified local government" program.  

Darren Cotten presented his research - recent University at Buffalo Masters project in Urban Planning - about the potential reuse of the building.  Darren also discussed some of his work in preparing the National Register nomination package which the Campaign for Greater Buffalo is helping to support.  See this recent fixBuffalo post for additional details about Darren's work.  Lackawanna Common Council President Henry Pirowski agreed to help draft a resolution which will be presented to the full council requesting the Mayor Szymanski to withdraw his support for the City's demolition plans.  Mayor Szymanski, Gateway Trade - the building's owner - as well as other local, regional, state and federal elected officials, including Erie County Executive Mark Polancarz were invited to attend and participate.

City planner and local preservationist Chris Hawley moderated the meeting.  His opening remarks placing the City of Lackawanna's Cathedral of Industry in a broader cultural and economic context are rather compelling.  Listen here.  
In case you missed it - the National Trust recently posted this - Grassroots Preservation Turning the Tide in Buffalo, NY - for additional background on the local effort to save this building from the landfill. The Rochester Subway blog recently posted - Lackawanna Blues: How smaller cities are destroying their future by demolishing the past - that leads with this story and provides many examples of successful reuse of formerly decaying industrial buildings. You can stay current with the story of saving the Bethlehem Steel Administration building by joining and following this FaceBook group

See also: Bethlehem Steel North Office Building - Part I, Part II & Part III.


Buffalo Green Code: neighborhood open houses

The City is hosting a series of Buffalo Green Code open houses this coming week to reveal a "sneak preview" of the new zoning ordinance, which is now being written. From the Mayor's Office of Strategic Planning:
We’re preparing a new zoning ordinance to shape Buffalo’s future. It’s designed to build on the land use plan that was developed last year, and to make our shared vision for the city a reality.The zoning ordinance contains the specific and detailed laws that will govern development in our city. Please join us at an upcoming Open House to learn more about how this will benefit your neighborhood and let us know what you think.  
Here's the schedule of open houses:

Screen shot 2012-06-01 at 9.59.52 
  • WEST: Mon., June 4, 6 pm, Lafayette High School, 370 Lafayette Ave.
  • NORTHWEST: Tues., June 5, 6 pm, Riverside High School, 51 Ontario St.
  • SOUTH: Tues., June 5, 6 pm, South Park High School, 150 Southside Pkwy.
  • ELLICOTT: Wed., June 6, 6 pm, Montessori School, 342 Clinton St.
  • NORTHEAST: Wed., June 6, 6 pm, Bennett High School, 2885 Main St.
  • NORTH: Thurs., June 7, 6 pm, North Park Academy, 780 Parkside Ave.
  • CENTRAL: Fri., June 8, 8 am; or Noon, Central Library, Lafayette Sq.
  • MASTEN/E. DELAVAN: Sat., June 9, 9 am, East High School, 820 Northampton St.
  • EAST: Sat., June 9th, 1 pm, Matt Urban Center, 1081 Broadway

The Green Code is the most important planning initiative the City of Buffalo has undertaken in decades. Plan to attend one of these open houses.  For additional information about the Buffalo Green Code check out the following fixBuffalo posts, especially this one - Mayor Brown's official announcement - on Earth Day, 2010.


Bethlehem Steel North Office Building ReUse - Part I

Darren Cotten graduated with a Masters in Urban Planning last week from the University at Buffalo.   He sent me his thesis project earlier today:  Heritage Tourism: In a Post-Industrial City (PDF).   Darren's work speaks directly to the potential reuse of the Bethlehem Steel North Office building.  Take a few moments to download, read and learn more about the value of this truly unique building that may be days away from the landfill.

Screen shot 2012-05-19 at 10.23.34 PM

I've been working with Darren for the past few months on the City's near East Side.  He's filed a Homesteading application with the City's Division of Real Estate and intends to make a City-owned residential property, one that was slated for demolition last November, his home.   Darren is also the founder of the University Heights Tool Library.   


Bethlehem Steel North Office Demolition - Part III

See today's Buffalo News front page article - Bethlehem Steel site to be scrapped

Buffalo News - Bethlehem Steel site to be scrapped

Please take a moment to read and sign Preservation Buffalo Niagara's online petition
See: Bethlehem Steel North Office Building - Part I, Part II

Bethlehem Steel North Office Demolition - Part II

On Wednesday evening I met George Richert from WIVB and Steve Bremer, the City of Lackawanna's Code Enforcement Officer on site.  Here's that story and video clip.  Steve handed me a press packet containing numerous items including this email he'd received earlier in the day from Elizabeth Martin, NYS Division of Historic Preservation.   The following is from Steve Bremer's press kit. 


Money was clearly available in 2009 to make the Bethlehem Steel North Office Building "preservation ready". The former Mayor of Lackawanna was thought to be cooperating in using RESTORE NY funds for this purpose.  Why wasn't this pursued?  Why was the building really condemned and court ordered to be demolished?   The photographic and eye-witness evidence is completely different from the official line - "it's too far gone to save".  Photographers who've been visiting the historic Bethlehem Steel headquarters building for years have formed this FaceBook group.  The photographic evidence suggests a structurally sound building and not one of impending implosion or collapse.  


On Sunday afternoon all the floors were safe - a few holes on the first floor, second and third that corresponded with a roof leak.  The central staircase had collapsed.  There are two other stair cases that provide access to the entire building.  There was no roof collapse.  Why would a City Code Enforcement Officer and a demolition company misrepresent the actual conditions?  

See: Bethlehem Steel North Office Demolition - Part I


Bethlehem Steel North Office Demolition - Part I

The former Bethlehem Steel North Office Building is slated for demolition this week.  Designed by noted New York City architect Lansing C. Holden, this magnificent Beaux Arts building was originally designed for the Lackawanna Steel Company in 1902.  Bethlehem Steel bought the headquarters building and steel works in 1922. Steel production ended in 1982 and coke production in 2002.  This building is located just across the City line on the south side of the Union Ship Canal.   This image depicts the Bethlehem Steel North Office Building - c. 1903.

Bethlehem Steel North Office Building - c 1903

The emergency demolition order was signed by the City of Lackawanna three weeks ago and the emergency demolition of the historic Bethlehem Steel headquarters building will begin later this week, see this notice.  Asbestos remediation has already begun and the diesel powered wreckers are tucked behind the former headquarters building, poised for action.  Demolition begins on Friday.  Here's a current rear view - Bethlehem Steel North Office Building.


The building has suffered 30 years of neglect.  The decorative copper detail is loose and missing and the slate roof failed years ago.  The modern addition's windows were blown out and most of the interior architectural detail has disappeared.  Here's what the first floor hallway looks like.


Most of the iconic steel making structures that were built on this site are now gone.  The hand riveted steel smoke stacks and blast furnaces that evoked our industrial supremacy have been cut to pieces.  On the other side of the Bethlehem Steel ship canal the coke ovens are crumbling.   What's left of this site, big steel and an industry that shaped this City and some of the most important structures of the 20th century  - Empire State Building, George Washington Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge?  Mostly scrap.  People who worked at Bethlehem remain as plaintiffs in various work place related injury claims and the Steel Museum now displays artifacts and objects, providing a glimpse into the lives and work of laborers, that were painstakingly salvaged from dumpsters when the steel plant wound to a close in the 80's.  In other places around the world the era of big steel and what it means is still celebrated.  Emscher Landschaft Park in Germany's Ruhr Valley provides one example.  The pairing of a casino and the preservation of five blast furnaces in Bethlehem, PA provides what is perhaps the country's current best practice in preserving the legacy of big steel's industrial heritage.   This image, from the top window, looks South.


The City of Lackawanna, NY has no preservation ordinance or active preservation organization.     Decisions to help preserve these industrial landmarks have not entered the preservation or public dialog in Buffalo.  Aside from decades of missed opportunities to do something with industrial preservation at this site, what remains?  Patricia Bazelon captured the last days of our Bethlehem Steel, dozens of photographers have followed.  Kendell Anderson's work stands out.   Additional Bethlehem Steel North Office building interior pics are available here and as a slide show.

Update:  A new FaceBook group has formed:  Bethlehem Steel North Office - Photography and Preservation.   Dozens of photographers have been inside this Beaux-Arts style gem and are posting their pictures.  The photographic record contradicts the official City of Lackawanna line: "It's too far gone."  Check out the growing collection of images and commentary that show a structure that's stable.  There is no roof or floor collapse.  The building is not "imploding". 

                       Bethlehem Steel North Office Building ReUse Part I 


Seeing Buffalo - Week #18

Here's a look back at some of the places I've seen this past week.   If you're not familiar with the locations you can see them on the flickr map next to each photo. In some cases I've provided a description of the place or links to additional information. 


To see the individual photos and related maps, follow this link or you can view the series as a slide showThe weekly series is archived at Seeing Buffalo.


Seeing Buffalo - Week #17

Here's a look back at some of the places I've seen this past week.   If you're not familiar with the locations you can see them on the flickr map next to each photo. In some cases I've provided a description of the place or links to additional information. 


To see the individual photos and related maps, follow this link or you can view the series as a slide showThe weekly series is archived at Seeing Buffalo.


509 Michigan Avenue: City-Owned (for sale?)

The Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency (BURA) owns 509 Michigan (google map).  It's right next door to the Michigan Street Baptist Church and the Nash House is behind it.  509 Michigan is located in the middle of Buffalo's African American Heritage Corridor.


According to City records this mixed-use building, with a second floor apartment, is assessed for $20,000.  It was purchased by BURA in 2005 for $350,000 from a private owner.

Since the opening of the Nash House in 2007, the completion of street improvements in the Heritage Corridor on Michigan Avenue and the more recent completion of renovations at the Michigan Street Baptist Church I thought 509 Michigan was next in line for renovations.  I spotted this sun faded poster in the front window the other day.  


I first photographed 509 Michigan in 2006 and have seen the deteriorating conditions of the building for the last six years.  This is a building that must be saved.  The City's Real Estate Division does not list the building for sale.  There are no known plans for the building and under BURA's ownership the fate of the building remains unknown.  


Seeing Buffalo - Week #16

Here's a look back at some of the places I've seen this past week.   If you're not familiar with the locations you can see them on the flickr map next to each photo. In some cases I've provided a description of the place or links to additional information.


To see the individual photos and related maps, follow this link or you can view the series as a slide showThe weekly series is archived at Seeing Buffalo.


Complete Streets Summit - Part I

Buffalo's Complete Streets Summit begins tomorrow evening.   The two day event includes a public forum on Thursday evening and a series of policy maker forums on Friday.  Howard Zemsky Co-Chair WNY Regional Development Council will deliver the keynote address.  Here's that schedule.  


The public is invited to attend Thursday evening's forum. It will highlight the importance of implementing our local Complete Streets policies, and draw upon examples of national best practices through a panel of experts. The public forum will be held at Asbury Hall, 314 Delaware Avenue, and will begin at 5:30pm.
On June 1, 2008, Buffalo's Complete Streets ordinance was unanimously passed by the City Council and signed into law by the Mayor. Defined as streets with facilities that are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users along our roadways, Complete Streets include persons with disabilities, pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders. Buffalo is embracing a vision to promote health, safety, community, environmental sustainability, and quality of life for all, in every season.
Please check Buffalo Complete Streets for additional information.


Seeing Buffalo - Week #15

Here's a look back at some of the places I've seen this past week.   If you're not familiar with the locations you can see them on the flickr map next to each photo. In some cases I've provided a description of the place or links to additional information.


To see the individual photos and related maps, follow this link or you can view the series as a slide showThe weekly series is archived at Seeing Buffalo.


Seeing Buffalo - Week #14

Here's a look back at some of the places I've seen this past week.   If you're not familiar with the locations you can see them on the flickr map next to each photo. In some cases I've provided a description of the place or links to additional information.

To see the individual photos and related maps, follow this link or you can view the series as a slide show.   The weekly series is archived at Seeing Buffalo.


Code Green: City releases zoning technical report

The Mayor's Office of Strategic Planning released A New Zoning Direction for Buffalo: Technical Report (download PDF here) late yesterday. The report outlines the City's proposed approach to overhauling its zoning ordinance, a use-based or "Euclidean" code that dates to 1953.


A new Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) will replace the existing zoning and subdivision ordinances and all 46 urban renewal plans in their entirety. This second phase of the Buffalo Green Code will be form-based, with a strong emphasis on traditional urbanism and walkable, mixed-use development. Buffalonians, especially on the East Side, will be encouraged to know the UDO will remove regulatory barriers to the reuse of vacant land and structures. Read the report. Show up at the public forum on Tuesday, April 10, 6:15 pm, at ECC City Campus. This project will revolutionize Buffalo, so be there or be square.

Download the 4-page policy brief here and the Technical Report here. See you Tuesday.

See:  April 2010 Earth Day Public Announcement, pics and podcast.


Selling Our Streets: No Cheer for Cheerios

General Mills, the global food giant and maker of Cheerios, has filed an application with the City of Buffalo to buy the dead end portion of Michigan Avenue between Ganson Street and the Ship Canal.  This map, part of that application shows what one of world's largest food companies wants.  Here's the street shot showing the portion of Michigan Avenue General Mills wants to buy.


The sale of this City street should not go forward.  In every neighborhood City residents are fully engaged in reversing 50 years of bad urban planning.  Waterfront access is part of citizen engagement in the process of reclaiming the City from past planning abuses.  As seen in the last photo this portion of Michigan Avenue once connected Kelly Island to Fuhrmann Boulevard. The City removed the South Michigan Street Bridge in 1964.

The recent sale of City streets on the City's East Side to large corporations has plenty of precedent.  Trico bought Burton Alley between Main Street and Ellicott.  Trico moved to Mexico two years later.  Kaleida bought this portion of Goodrich Street between Ellicott and Michigan Avenue.  Below is the site of the former Michigan Avenue Bridge.


The application that General Mills submitted is before the City Planning Board and is on the agenda for their April 10th meeting. This part of Michigan Avenue at Ganson Street is in South District.  Currently South District is without representation on the City Council as former Council Member Micky Kerns has moved on to the New York State Assembly. Please voice your concern and help stop this application from moving forward.  Connect with Council President Richard Fontana and Mayor Byron Brown today.   This application must be rejected.