St Vincent's - Death Watch

I noticed a few more pieces ready to fall from St. Vincent's this afternoon.
DSCN3974 DSCN3976
click image to enlarge
That's in addition to this chunk that fell last week and this other chunk last month, that prompted the City to erect a faux sidewalk barricade along this stretch of Ellicott Street. The barricade, for practicle purposes is no longer in place...the tape blew away.

I posted Midtown Masterpiece back in March. Make sure to check out Chicago architect and BRO contributer David Steel's piece, This Building Must be Saved...great comments.
It's official. The St. Vincent's death watch is on...I say it won't make it through the winter.
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Anonymous said...

Unfortunately code enforcement in Buffalo is complaint-based rather than systematic and comprehensive (resulting in neighborhood decline). The onus shifts from those who are required to enforce (City inspectors) to those who suffer the neglect (taxpaying residents).

Please post the address and the owner's name and contact information so that complaints to the City and building inspectors can be properly addressed.

Doesn't a City Housing Inspector individually and the City collectively have liability to make sure buildings are safe?

fixBuffalo said...

West Coast & Others...

The owner of St. Vincent's

Bailey Robinson, Inc.
c/o 5780 Main St.
Williamsville, NY 14221

David Steele, over at BRO, wrote - Another One That Must Be Saved - back on 3/24/06. Marilyn Rogers, local housing activist, wrote the following comment that might be helpful:


Instead of asking why this isn't in Housing Court, ask why the preservationists haven't identified it before BRO picked up on it. Call the city inspections department and ask if there is an open case on it. If not, ask that an inspector be sent out to it.

I just spoke with queenseyes to determine the address. Looking at the city property information screen, it is owned by Bailey Robinson, Inc. One of the addresses is known as 1140 Ellicott Street, but the deed is listed as 1313 Main Street. The Preservation Board seemed to have had some type of action on the property in 2001, but a settlement occurred in October 2002. Bailey Robinson purchased the property from Kenneth Gayles December 19, 2001 for a consideration (at least on the deed) of $200. Sounds a bit low - could it have been an agreement to lower the transfer tax? One can only speculate.

The last action on the 1140 Ellicott Street address was in 2004 for a permit. No inspections have been made on the place but we have requested one and were told when we called today, that the City would send an inspector out.

Bailey Robinson's contact information from NYS Corporations' database is Leonard G London with an office at 5780 Main Street in Williamsville, NY 14221. The phone number for his office is listed as 634-8600.

Incidentally, other properties recently purchased by Bailey Robinson that have direct connectivity with this site are 1105, 1109, and 1117 Ellicott Street.

Here's the baseline of this whole story and others like it. We are living in a city with four or five preservation groups and a fantastic inventory of architectural treasures. Yet, when are the preservationists most seen? When the wrecking ball swings. Preservation needs to be proactive, not reactive. I'm jumping on the proactive bandwagon and ask that anyone who wishes a ride join in, too!

We'll soon be looking for more folks who wish to save buildings before they become endangered. If you wish to join in on the fun with the Neighborhood Preservation Collaborative, send them an e-mail at npc-buffalo@hotmail.com. Let's get going, folks. There are so many of you out there who have expressed dismay at the comings and (mostly) goings of our historic treasures. It's nice to take a tour, but much more productive to save these structures before they become condemned or demolished.

Thanks to Queenseyes for the additional data that allowed us to determine the address and owner."

fixBuffalo said...


I'm not sure of if there is a housing inspectors "code of ethics" or job responsibility guidelines.

I do know that City Hall people check this blog everyday. Perhaps, we'll get an anonymous comment directing us to this information.

Anonymous said...

Cash Cunningham does own St. Vincent's.

He also owns the Packard building across the street (1325 Main St.). He rehbilitated the Italianette mansion on Main (1313), part of the St. Vincent complex, in which Literacy Volunteers has their office space (I did that lease). And he recently bought 1291 Main St. (Autopia, across from Bryant; formerly the Studebaker dealership and then some printing place). The vacant lots which are owned by Bailey Robinson are things in the area which come up for auction at tax forclosure and might someday help his project.

Cash bought 1313 Main either at tax auction or private sale. He paid peanuts for it (something on the order of $50,000 or $25,000 I thought; previous owner only paid $13,000 himself, or some such number, himself at tax auction way back a decade or more prior to Cash).

Cash's ambition with the property from the get go was to knock it down for parking. If you remember the bruhaha about him demolishing part of that building, it went like this:

When Cash purchased the parcel, one building was collapsing (the roof had caved; outside walls were buckling). That building connected to the back of what is now Literacy Volunteers. Cash began demolishing and preservationists obtained a court order to stop.

Eventually, Cash was forced to keep the front building intact. So he adjusted his plan and renovated, on his own dime, the front building (not cheap. He did a very good job; walk in there some time and say you want to volunteer for Literacy). When it was under renovation, I showed it to Literacy Volunteers who decided to take it over. Happy story.

Not happy is the tale of the back building.

Cash had a charter school ready to go there (Maritime, who eventually went to downtown which was their second choice) but the renovation was going to cost $4 million and no bank would fund it. Cash himself tried to get a loan from anywhere, but he was stretched too thin to qualify for that kind of loan and no bank (and he tried many) would lend the nut based on a charter school (they are only guaranteed tenants for five years and you can't pay that amount back in five years on charter enrollment). That deal was with another broker.

so the Charter school fell apart.

Then I had St. Vincent's under contract to Regan Development of Westchester for low-mod income housing (last year). Unfortunately, the developer backed out when rehab costs made it impractical (he did, however, put the Packard building under contract for the same purpose, but the project did not get funded this round of tax credits; it is still under contract and may or may not get funded next year).

Cash would love to see the building reused for something. He'll practically give it away. Who can use it?

I thought maybe a group of 20 - 30 somethings should buy it cooperatively and do the common things (roof, elevator, sprinklers, rough plumbing, etc.) together at common cost. Then the group would sell, as a coop or condo, each classroom to individuals. Some might make lofts. Some might make artist studios. Some might want band practice area, etc.

The problem is that to do the common areas would cost, probably, between $1.5 million and $2.0 million. There are about 27 classrooms. That means the cost per classroom is in excess (and maybe far in excess) of $50,000 before any improvements are done inside the classroom. Who will pay $60,000 - $80,000 to own a classroom in St. Vincent's (albeit with common areas, roof, elevator, etc.) when the inside is just one classroom?

So: what to do with it?


Anonymous said...


How about do some basic upkeep like seal the windows and put a new roof on. Is it too much to expect building owners to provide a roof that does not leak? All the other problems are caused by neglect of this simple and relatively inexpensive (and routine) task.

Fix the damn roof!!!!!!!

fixBuffalo said...

Bob B...

Thanks for filling in the blanks.

Please keep me informed if any qualified buyers step to the plate. I'll continue to pump it here and encourage others to do the same.

A few questions...

1. Is the property officially listed?

2. How would someone know it's available?

3. What financing is available through Cash Cunningham? Is he prepared to pay someone to take ownership? Like the Richard Taylor deal, once upon a time.

Let me know...thanks.

Anonymous said...

I have always had a soft spot for this beautiful structure. In fact a few years ago as i was sobering over its demise i carried away a few of its remains (bricks) and made a beautiful bookcase out of them....
Probably the most productive use of its foundation in years....

Just dont give word to the city, i may get a tax bill in the mail... Michael