City's Oldest Synagogue - DEMOLITION ALERT

The former Jefferson Street Shul (407 Jefferson Avenue - google map) is wide open and a new demolition notice (dated today) was found this morning affixed to the building.

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In February 2012 I convened a series of meetings with local preservationists, architects and local historians. I met with Housing Court Judge Carney and local preservation attorney Richard Berger to help save this local landmark and special access was provided to help determine the Shul's interior and overall structural condition. Buffalo architect Ted Lownie from HHL and local preservation contractor Vince Kuntz accompanied me on at least one interior inspection. It was found to be stable. The Shul's owner - Reverend Ferrell in Phoenix AZ - wanted nothing more to do with the building and was prepared to deed his former church to a court approved qualified buyer for $1. No buyers were found.

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Elliot Dalfin purchased the Shul at the city's tax foreclosure auction in October 2012 for $600 (six hundred dollars). He was the only bidder. Elliot splits his time between Buffalo and Brooklyn and controls a large number of rental properties in the city's Broadway Fillmore neighborhood using various LLC's. Currently one of his LLC's owns the Shul.

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I met with Elliot several times over the past year. His plans included creating a vibrant cultural center that would honor and respect the traditions and history long associated with the Shul. Calls this afternoon were not returned.

The future of the former Jefferson Street Shul is very uncertain. Tomorrow, Buffalo's Young Preservationists have committed to assisting in re-boarding and securing the Shul - Saturday 9/20 at 11am. All are welcome.

More information as it becomes available.

For additional background information about this historic landmark please read - City's Oldest Synagogue from February 2012.

fixBuffalo interior/exterior image archive


City-owned 1363 Sycamore Street - Gone

City-owned 1363 Sycamore Street (google map) was demolished yesterday afternoon. It was stable and didn't present any health or safety issues.

September 15, 2014

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I wrote about 1363 Sycamore Street a few months ago, here (must see). It was located next door to the Happy Swallow, the last remaining tavern in this neighborhood. Steps away there are dozens of city-owned and privately owned residential properties near the recently renovated Harvey Austin School at 1405 Sycamore. Many of these houses are wide open (for years), heavily water damaged and need to be demolished.

May 12, 2014

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This demolition was NOT reviewed by the city's Preservation Board. 1363 Sycamore was NOT listed for sale by the Division of Real Estate. Currently there is no plan for this block of Sycamore. This is an(other) egregious example of the City's lack of coordinated and strategic planning when it comes to city-owned property. Shame.

Really, is a for sale sign that expensive?


Building Buffalo Back: a night at Wythe Hotel

I received this announcement earlier today:

Building Buffalo Back: Developing Buffalo's Urban Core & Creating Sustainable Solutions an evening at Brooklyn's new (must see) - Wyeth Hotel.

Buffalo - Wythe Hotel 1 Buffalo - Wythe Hotel 2
click image to enlarge

I'm not going. If you are and can make an audio recording of the event, please let me know. I'd like to make this gentrifying conversation available to a larger audience.

PS: I just checked, there still a few rooms available at Wythe Hotel for Wednesday evening with Manhattan views for $525/night.


Homesteading the city with Fox News: final cut

Fox News contacted me after Alana Semuels LA Times story - As an alternative to demoltion, Buffalo offers homes for a dollar - ran last month about the city's homestead program. I spoke with Ron Ralston, Fox News producer and invited his crew to Buffalo last week. We spent the day talking with homesteaders and neighborhood residents about alternatives to demolition and neighborhood stabilization.

This segment features  Deyron TabbMike Puma and Matt Newton who've successfully purchased former city-owned houses in the city's Hamlin Park Historic District for $1.

This is the final cut that airs on Fox News over the weekend.

Fox News also interviewed Brendan Mehaffy, Executive Director of the City's Office of Strategic Planning. Brendan continues to be a strong supporter of the city's homestead program.
Knocking a house downs costs about $20,000 on the average in the City of Buffalo.
If we can sell a house for $1 we can save $20,000 and we can invest it in something else. We can get a property on the tax rolls and improve it with private money, not public money. 
Kudos to all involved in helping to spread the word about the urban homesteading program in the beautiful and resilient city of Buffalo NY.