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. 


Joel Rose said...

I'd be curious to know what work it nees, and what it ould cost to aquire it. Could you post that information?

fixBuffalo said...


I'd help make the case for $1 - might be 1K - for the purchase price. The roof is probably about 8 years old and there's no water issues. The demo crew did poke a hole in roof and removed a finial, right side. It needs new systems.

Depending on the desired outcomes, this is currently set up as two family house - a phased rehab project might begin at 50K - shell, systems for one unit - and then another 40-50K for the second unit. The costs go up as finishes and amenities are added.

These are rough numbers and are all subject to a closer inspection.

Anonymous said...

Sharing it on our facebook page..
Michele J~ Buffalo ReUse

Joel Rose said...

Hi again.

By systems I assume you mean electrical, plumbing, and heating?

Is the interior woodwork intact?

I'm not sure what my level of interst is, and if someone else bites that would delight me. I really just hate to see a house with potential get demolished.

Preservation Coalition said...

It reminds me a little of the Queen City Farm house that as torched a few years ago.

Betty Barcode said...

Whoops, didn't realize that that old PresCo log-in was still valid.

Publius said...

This is an amazing house whose character would stand out in any Buffalo neighborhood. I was always impressed how the integrity of East Utica has largely remained between Main and Humboldt. Arguably, East Utica becomes a stronger street the further east one travels from Main Street. This is not one for the wrecking ball.

Terrence Robinson said...

As a life-long Cold Spring resident and a near neighbor of 557 East Utica [ I live around the corner 3 houses down], I applaud the concern and the efforts of all involved in the fight to maintain the historic integrity and architectural resources of the plundered east side. The scramble for lucrative contracts and short term profit at the expense of long struggling homeowners and our historic legacy is sickening. Vacancy and demolition feed blight, isolation, and a sense of frustration over a policy unwilling to invest but eager to destroy. Well done David, Mike, Elizabeth, and all who rose to the challenge.

Buffalo Resurrection said...

Hey Joel,

I may be tagged or deleted for this but if you're serious, I can recommend an excellent contractor who I routinely called during my tenure working for CHS who was very good, trustworthy and always quoted the best price and I actually miss working with him but he works only in Erie County and I am back working in Niagara County but I digress…

Tony Brady (Round the Clock Service) at 553-4464 and you can mention that “Mark Williams” recommended him…

Depending on your financial situation, I suspect you may be pleasantly surprised.



Anonymous said...

How much is this selling for?

fixBuffalo said...

There is no asking price as this City-owned property is technically not for sale. That said - I would help negotiate a $1 sale (for a qualified owner occupant) as the house has already been subjected to some minor demo action and is on the demo list. Please email me if you're interested. Thanks - davidtorke@gmail.com

Jefferson Humboldt said...

Hopefully, if the City takes the typical 9 months to close on this, they will at least allow the buyer to patch/tarp the hole where the finial was. I love the woodwork on the front gable, and living between Jefferson and Humboldt myself, I can vouch for the quality of Humboldt and the surrounding blocks. Many wonderful gardens, great people, and owner-occupants everywhere! Let's do it to it eh!

Buffalo Resurrection said...

Rule of thumb and it really depends on your contractor and this is just a really basic tool so please don't take it as gospel or run away screaming:

Quick estimate range:

$45-$58 per square foot on the cost of renovating a home.