Last Chance...

I've been following the plight of 1325 Michigan Avenue for years. This past week Houseing Court Judge Hank Nowak had a demolition hearing for one of the most amazing properties in the Artspace backyard neighborhood. Here's the case - index #1250/2007.
A year ago I posted about 1325 - Along Michigan Avenue - and brought hundreds of people by the place on the Saturday morning at 11am Artspace tours of the neighborhood. The property was just brought into Housing Court in November where the owner plead guilty and agreed to the demoliton. Rather sad as the place has been languishing for the at least the past 12 years.
1325 Michigan Avenue is the most unique building - besides St. Vincent's - between Artspace and the new Arts Academy. Behind the roll-up garage door thing is a very cool retail entrance. Two years ago, Chris Hawley identified this location as a former tavern, back in the day in his Midtown: Poised for Renaissance.

There's still time...if you're interested in bringing this building back from the dead, let me know. Hurry!!!
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Sticking Together...

I've been interested in the intersection of certain emerging cultural and policy changes that are beginning to slowly shape the dialogue here in Buffalo, NY with regards to the City's long term economic development. I've been looped into a number of conversational threads, classroom presentations and panel discussions this past year about rust-belt revitalization. I see the Shrinking Cities exhibit that's been making its way across the country and the path breaking work of Buffalo LISC, especially their Blueprint Buffalo as central to the critique about the possibility of the city's future vitality and possible long term viability when we ask the question - What is to be done?
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GLUE Co-Founders Sarah Szurpicki (Harvard 03) and Abby Wilson (Columbia 02) are young urbanists who recently returned to their respective hometowns: Detroit and Pittsburgh. They developed the concept for the Great Lakes Urban Exchange (GLUE) during the summer of 2007, as an outgrowth of comparative conversations about their experiences coming home to similarly challenged post-industrial cities.
After posting about this weekend's Smart City programming, I noticed some traffic pouring in from another rust-belt blog, Burgh Diaspora, right here - Rustbelt Network: Critical Mass. So rather than wait 'till Sunday afternoon I listened to the podcast - right here, a very cool conversation between host Carol Coletta and Sarah Szurpicki and Abby Wilson, GLUE founders. They discussed their take on the meaning and importance of the Partnership for Public Good here in Buffalo, NY.
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I checked out the entire GLUE site and especially the links to Brookings Institute. Scrolling through their site you'll find the Great Lakes Economic Initiative. Seriously, some good material and policy initiatives impacting our City and region.

While we're thinking about enlarging and shifting the dialog and finding emerging points that intersect beyond our neighborhood, rust-belt city and region we certainly should be looking across the river or lake to a few other places, too. I mean, this is cool!

Looking forward to a Rust-Belt bloggers meet-up, too.
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Smart City - This Weekend

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Smart City is a weekly, hour-long public radio talk show that takes an in-depth look at urban life, the people, places, Create Documentideas and trends shaping cities. Host Carol Coletta talks with national and international public policy experts, elected officials, economists, business leaders, artists, developers, planners and others for a penetrating discussion of urban issues.

This weekend...
  • In this primary season, change seems to be the word voters most want to hear. Networking is the foundation of trust relationships that make change possible. Our guests this week are deeply engaged in understanding and building powerful networks for change.

  • Abby Wilson and Sarah Szurpicki are the founders of GLUE, the Great Lakes Urban Exchange, an online networking and journalism effort to build regional identity and share information among young urban leaders in the region. Sarah and Abby are urbanists who have recently returned to their respective hometowns: Detroit and Pittsburgh.

  • Dr. Karen Stephenson is a world leader in analyzing networks for corporations and communities and putting their power to work. Her project for Leadership Philadelphia led to uncovering surprising new sources of leadership in that community. Karen is a corporate anthropologist who has been lauded as a pioneer in the growing field of social-network business consultants. Her consulting firm, Netform, was recognized as one of the top 100 leading innovation companies by CIO.

Listen to host Carol Colletta - list of additional stations/times - 7pm Sunday on WNED - 970 in Buffalo, NY. Past Shows are archived and the newsletter is published regularly.
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Dirty Deeds and Toxic Title

As the mortgage meltdown continues a Business Week cover story focuses on the crisis here in Buffalo, NY and what might be done when the bank walks away.
Buffalo City Court Prosecutor Cindy Cooper
On Dec. 17 in a windowless Buffalo courtroom, Cindy T. Cooper, a prosecutor for the city, buzzes among a dozen men in suits, cutting deals. "You've got to unboard [the house], go in, and clean it out," she tells one. "If all the repairs are done quickly, I wouldn't ask for any fines." To another, she says, "the gutters weren't done right," and asks to see receipts for the work. It's "Bank Day" in Judge Henry J. Nowak's housing courtroom, more typically a venue where landlords and tenants duke it out read the rest...
Here's a podcast between Business Week executive editor John Byrne and senior writer Michael Orey. Sound track courtesy of Radio Head - House of Cards - here via YouTube.

A couple related posts - Scourage of a Beaten Down Buffalo from a September 2007 New York Times article, where we learn that Buffalo has the second highest per capita rate of vacancy in the country. Housing Court in Cleveland from September 2006 where local activist Michele Johnson and Housing Court Judge Henry Nowak visit with Cleveland's Housing Court Judge Pianka. Last year Judge Nowak presented at the National Vacant Properties Campaign first annual conference in Pittsburgh - Reclaiming Vacant Properies.
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Failing the Grade?

Frequent fixBuffalo readers have been seeing some of the amazing dereliction here on the City's east side that co-exists with the largest construction project in the City's history - the one billion dollar Joint School ReConstruction Project. My first attempt to address and understand the the complexity of this phenomenon was here - School House Project, March 2005...
The public health and safety problems confronting BuffaloPublic School students and neighborhood residents surrounding recently renovated Buffalo Public Schools is extraordinary. In public health terms it would be called an epidemic. Here, very little attention is paid to the role of abandoned, boarded, derelict and vacant houses. From an effective and smart urban policy perspective the continue reading...
From my office window I still see this house at 1466 Michigan Avenue.
This is the view from the front porch, looking towards the new Arts Academy, less than 100' away.
The City of Buffalo has owned this house for two years. When you click through the archive of posts/pictures about 1466 Michigan Avenue you'll quickly see that the Dept. of Real Estate has missed an amazing opportunity. I remember when the house got a new roof seven years ago - like what ever happened to an effective marketing strategy. Lots cheaper than the eventual demolition of a 3/3 double that is now going to dust and will end up in the landfill over the line in Lewiston, NY.
Posts about this 1466 Michiagan Avenue include: October 2007 - February 2007 - April 2006 - and this picture from January 2005!

Just a house, or a pattern of neglect and missed opportunity? Like to know...
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Photography and the City

I've been interested in the work of Camilo Vergara and the how he's documented subtle and dramatic shifts in some of our most desperate cities. First mentioned him in October 2006, here a few months later and recently here while thinking of St. Ann's over on Broadway.

Just learned via MIT OpencourseWare, in the Urban Studies and Planning section that a course - Sensing Place: Photography as Inquiry - has a selection of eight videos. The second one features Camilo Vergara.

Same guy suggested back in the 90's that 12 square blocks of downtown Detroit be converted into an 'American Acropolis' and be presereved as a skyscraper ruins park. Interesting guy and take on industrial ruins as we continue to struggle with our own 'shrinking city'.

Follow that October 2006 link for additonal material about Vergara's work or follow these links on my delicious.
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City Honors - Reconstruction

I'll be tracking the reconstruction of City Honors on a regular basis. fixBuffalo readers may remember my weekly series involving the reconstruction of the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts - see archive. Both projects are part of the largest construction project ever undertaken in this City - the one billion dollar Joint School Reconstruction Project.

Here, I'll be posting pics and presenting various issues involving this amazing project, two blocks east of Main Street. I've always viewed these decisons - Merriweather Library, Artspace, Performing Arts and now City Honors - as part of a $100m investment in the arts and education; an intelligent and necessary string of projects that are essential in reconnecting and revitalizing the City.
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Creative ClassShrinking CitiesSaturdays in the neighborhood