Kathleen Kinan creates new life on Grant Street

Architect Kathleen Kinan has been working hard to bring a a beat up old building on Grant Street back to life. After receiving a substantial NY Main Street grant from People United for Sustainable Housing, Kathleen was able to complete the project (or just about), in order to refurbish the structure, which is comprised of two apartments and a storefront. When I mentioned to Kathleen that she was helping to create a new frontier on the West Side, she corrected me by saying, “You can thank the businesses that stuck it out for all of these years – the barbers, the grocery markets, the hardware stores… those are the real heros of the West Side.”

Kathleen has also got her hands full with a small building next door that is slated to reopen as Freddie J’s: The Hut (see here). But it’s the old house where she is concentrating most of her efforts. The place was a mess until she got her hands on it. Taking inspiration from artists such as Friedensreich Hundertwasser, and infusing her green sensibilities into the structures, Kathleen is rocking the boat when it comes to redesign. She’s using found and discarded materials. She’s implemented a geothermal heating system that will save on energy costs, and solar panels are coming soon. LED lighting was used whenever practical. She purchased as many building supplies from businesses in the neighborhood, to keep it local. Kathleen also purchased American-made products whenever she could. 
Between the original rear 1860′s house, and the 1910 addition in front, she has her hands full righting all of the wrongs that have been done to the interior and exterior over the years. 

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Fortunately the bones of the house are strong, and there are some fascinating building elements that have been left intact – original plank and wood walls and floors in parts of the house, beautiful old porcelain sinks and tubs… “There are surprises everywhere you look,” she told me. “I found treasures under the plaster and the paint. “Now it’s a mix of old and new. I retained as much of the 1860′s vintage as possible, and then added modern amenities, while paying respect to the house. There are awesome imperfections here. This mixed-use house has tons of character and will be a great addition to Grant Street.”

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Already Kathleen has been opening the doors of 197 Grant Street to the public, and she’s doing it again this Thursday. She’s inviting people to come in and take a look around, and at the same time she has invited some local artisans to show their wares in the space. 
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Realtor Larry Bartolomei wrote to me to tell me about what Kathleen has planned for the occasion:
All are invited to stop by 197 Grant Street this Thursday (12/20) from 3:30pm to 8:30pm for an Open House and Pop Up Shop event featuring creative gifts by local artisans AND tours of this beautifully renovated building rescued and brought back to life by talented local architect Kathleen Kinan. There will be something for everyone, whether you need to shop for unique and affordable holiday gifts or are interested in sustainable design and architecture.
Kathleen will be offering tours of her uniquely and sustainably restored apartments, truly an inspiration for anyone interested in saving old buildings in the Queen City. You’ll be amazed at what Kathleen has accomplished here – a must see for anyone interested in architecture and preservation. In the storefront (soon to be Kathleen’s architecture studio) you’ll find wonderful hand-crafted goods made by talented (and fun) local artisans. Shop, browse, or just laugh along with us – merriment is the rule for the evening. We may even have refreshments and entertainment, so please stop by – we’d love to see you!
Participating Creatives: Arachne Designs (jewelry), Coyote Candles (candles & lotions), David Udin Pottery (stoneware), Mario Nunez Woodworking (boxes), My Cousin’s Cookies (Santalos), Nature’s Child & Sea Hag (jewelry & facinators), Tamaran Designs (knitwear).
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^Photos are from the first Holiday open house that was held last Thursday.

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About the author  ⁄ queenseyes

Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Catalyst behind the Pierce-Arrow Film Arts Center. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette. Themed New Years mayhem at various locations. Next up: Porchfest... Also offers package tours of the city for groups or individuals. Contact Newell Nussbaumer | Newell@BuffaloRising.com

24 comments
ForestBird
ForestBird

Goes to show that more women need to become architects. I didn't realize how enormously improved is 197 until I checked Google street views - it looks so much better that I couldn't picture the old place. Most excellent.

RaChaCha
RaChaCha

What grad94 said. Regarding how Main Street grants work, check out my comment(s) above.

grad94
grad94

actually, the main street grant funded it. push was kind enough to write and manage the grant.

Buffalo_Resurrection
Buffalo_Resurrection

I love the color scheme and the knotty-pine siding being applied to the rear structure.

The interior is an awesome combination of new and old and I give the owner credit for taking on this project as I am not too sure I would be able to handle such a project from a financial aspect.

Interesting that PUSH would finance this project but glad they did....

davvid
davvid

I don't think it wants to fit.

KJB
KJB

This has been a neat project to watch, and it looks great! Can't wait to tour the inside.

brownteeth
brownteeth

Thanks! I looked it up and it does appear to be for commercial districts/buildings. I'll have to see if there's any other programs out there.

PLDGWest
PLDGWest

Love, love, love. I saw this building when Kathy first started working on it. Saying it was a mess doesn't do the amount of work she did on the place justice - it's a remarkable transformation. And it is absolutely gorgeous.

I hope this will serve as inspiration for other beautiful Grant Street projects! We've got so much potential!

grad94
grad94

probably nothing personal. when you're a solo practitioner, doing all this work usually means sacrificing other work.

Timothy Domst
Timothy Domst

The house is fantastic, but the fast-food hut looks like it was covered up with factory second flooring and other stuff. It's fine to have curves, but the curves have to be elegant and fit the building to look good, and those curves aren't elegant and don't fit.

davvid
davvid

This looks amazing!

polar bear
polar bear

"whether you need to shop for unique and affordable holiday gifts or are interested in sustainable design and architecture.

Kathleen will be offering tours of her uniquely and sustainably restored apartments, truly an inspiration for anyone interested in saving old buildings in the Queen City. You'll be amazed at what Kathleen has accomplished here - a must see for anyone interested in architecture and preservation".

...........................

Tell me about it! I have been trying to get her to come take a look at my new project for over a year and she blows me off every time I bring it up. I've been a guest in her house and that's amazing. Truly inspiring. A real classic. . . but like I said . . . I get blown off.

I think I can put my finger on the problem though. I am interested in architecture and history and preservation and sustainable design".

Go figure!

Rand503
Rand503

Really great. I've seen so many houses from the 19th century that have been renovated to take all the life out of them. You walk inside and it's all drywall and modern fixtures and looks like the interior of any suburban newbie. I realize that some places have to be totally gutted, but surely you can save something that is original or at least old.

Glad she did it the right way.

grad94
grad94

[applauding from my keyboard]

BPS_Rising
BPS_Rising

Beautiful! Will these be available to rent, and if so, when, and for how much?

RaChaCha
RaChaCha

I don't know the specifics on this particular Main Street grant, but the way they generally work is they're awarded to a particular organization that has the capacity to oversee and implement the grant -- in this case, PUSH -- for a particular area, like a few blocks along a commercial storefront district (see my response to brownteeth, above). Then that organization works with willing individual property owners to provide them funds from the grant to improve their properties.

The Main Street grants I'm familiar with require the property owners to match the grant funds with their own. The grant funds then act as an incentive for individual property owners to invest in their own properties, by making each of their dollars go farther and also by assuring that those investments will be reinforced by other improvements made nearby. The overall effect is to kickstart and/or bolster the revitalization of a "Main Street" type area -- even if, as in this case, it's not actually a street named Main.

RaChaCha
RaChaCha

I'm afraid Main Street grants are awarded for a particular area (set of blocks). Every one I'm familiar with has been for a storefront commercial district.

Congrats on your closing! Walked by the place a week or so ago & it's sweeeet! Looking forward to your open house :)

medea
medea

This place is great looking but why is PUSH giving money to people to renovate their homes? Do you know how many people wonder why PUSH wouldn't help them do a damn thing to repair, even minor issues with their homes, the people who are low income? It'a ll about pimping the poor to get the grant money and I look forward to the day when you can't protest the city, then sleep with the them to get the greenbacks while protesting gentrification. WTF is going on when people on Mass ave don't know what PUSH or MAP means to them

brownteeth
brownteeth

I love it, tell me more about this Main Street Grant? I closed on my new project house at 1098 Ellicott today and could use some financial assistance.

Travelrrr
Travelrrr

Amazing--well done Kathleen.

LouisTully
LouisTully

Pretty badass. She's so right, too, about the folks that stick it out in these hard hit areas.

elmdog
elmdog

wow....really appreciate people like her

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