Wrecking Buffalo: 375 Colvin Avenue

A fire and “gangs” have doomed a North Buffalo church.  Owner Korean United Methodist Church is seeking to demolish the circa-1926 structure located at the southeast corner of Tacoma and Colvin avenues.  A three-alarm arson fire in April appears to have sealed the building’s fate.  It has been vacant for several years.
From the Buffalo Preservation Board agenda:
DEMOLITION: After many years standing vacant, deteriorated and rife with mold, decay and structural failures, compounded by illicit occupation by territorial gangs & their related vandalism, the sanctuary portion of the structure was destroyed by a three alarm fire in April of this year. The fire, & the efforts to combat it, destroyed a portion of the roof, all of the interior including the windows, as well as adjacent sections of the educational wing of the building.
Application received 11/26/2012.
(Thomas Clemow to appear @ 12/13/2012 03:00 PM 901 City Hall)
The Preservation Board meets at 3 PM Thursday in City Hall Room 901.

About the author  ⁄ jlb716

112 comments
BPS_Rising
BPS_Rising

I live in the area, and I'd like to see a new, permanent North Park library on this site, along with a playground, and perhaps a site for after-school programs. The current location of the "temporary" library in the Kmart parking lot strip mall also occupied by a billiards parlor, a vacant store, and a Rainbow clothing store says a lot about how much we value a library in our community. It is very small, with no space for community meetings or after-school programming. There is also no playground that serves our community now that P.S. 81 has erected a fence around their new playground. There is Shoshone Park, but due to its location on the far east side of North Buffalo, it is not walkable for most people in the area. North Park Academy is a struggling school getting worse by the year, and could benefit greatly from a nearby community site providing mentoring and after-school programming.

Can we build enough communal and political support around a smart redevelopment plan for the site that doesn't involve a drug store or big box retail? How do we get a Merriweather-style library in North Buffalo?

"Realist"
"Realist"

Jbny>"The bottom line is that I am for saving the place if they have an immediate plan; if not, please tear it down"

Thank you for clarifying. Frankly, I'm suspicious of the "proactive" argument on this site as it is frequently an anti-preservation goalpost that is quickly shifted when debating preservation topics that involves obvious proactive action (landmarking, fund raising, utilizing historic tax credits etc).

I can certainly appreciate your concerns over the problems you mentioned about living near a vacant property, and the fact you've got skin in the game. I just disagree that a unkempt vacant lot is a better outcome than a unkempt vacant building. Hopefully there will be something built in the church's place that will add to the value of our neighborhood.

Dan
Dan

Not all pocket parks are good, though.

whatever
whatever

Well put, jb.

If anyone who favors saving the building above all else for this property had made serious proactive efforts beyond talk but the efforts failed, then as whathaveyou said the same conditions would result (followed by demo).

However, the efforts might not have failed.

Buffalobooster7
Buffalobooster7

Even small parks are important.Google "best pocket parks" especially the one in Manhattan.Green space can be added to even the most urban areas.

Buffalobooster7
Buffalobooster7

Even small parks are important.Google "best pocket parks" especially the one in Manhattan.Green space can be added to even the most urban areas.

Sheldon S. Kornpett, D.D.S.
Sheldon S. Kornpett, D.D.S.

You're correct. St. Lawrence and Taunton don't exactly remind me of Spaulding Lake. That being said, have you ever noticed that the class of people living on St. Lawrence has has completely hit rock bottom?

Sheldon S. Kornpett, D.D.S.
Sheldon S. Kornpett, D.D.S.

I believe Terry Bradshaw had his front tooth knocked out during the Hooper brawl. A "Hot Stuff" type brawl would have also been acceptable.

jbny14
jbny14

Whate...

My point is that this building has sat vacant and unused other than people parking in the lot for the entire 6.5 years I have owned a home across the street.

Absolutely nothing has been done to it, my neighbors and I called 311 constantly to complain about the upkeep. Tenants of mine had windows smashed when parked there and others were vandalized. All it provides at this point is a place for losers and pigeons to congregate. If someone wanted this piece of property they should have spoken up before the punks destroyed the place.

The bottom line is that I am for saving the place if they have an immediate plan; if not, please tear it down, the empty and (burned out) building does not "add to the community" in any fashion.

"Realist"
"Realist"

Jbny> "Those of you that want to preserve are always there at the last minute rather than being proactive and doing something about it years before the wrecking ball."

Jbny, are you saying you would feel differently about this situation if preservationists made efforts to save this building well in advance of the upcoming demolition? Let's say people did something proactive (ie: collect donations, nominate for landmark protection etc) but were not able to prevent the conditions that have led to an almost certain demolition, would you be more receptive to efforts to save the building in the 11th hr? I ask because you didn't say this explicitly and those of us who don't have as much "realist" cred don't have the same flexibility in interpreting other people's comments (see whatever JD's cross examination of Travelrr above).

If the answer is no, then why even bring the issue of being proactive up? If you and others still feel this place should be torn down, what difference would it make if people with conflicting views did something about it yesterday versus a year ago or more?

Also, I too own property within viewing distance of this place but haven't heard anything about the proposal to convert it to a different use. Do you have a link to the minutes of the public meeting where this was discussed? I tried to google it but couldn't find anything. My neighbors didn't share the same opinion as yours but that could have more to do with us running with different crowds.

Dan
Dan

Ever notice the looks you get from the goombahs sitting in their plastic chairs outside of the social clubs on Hertel? Uh huh.

Dan
Dan

> Check with any city planner and it'll be clearer.

Parks are generally beneficial things, but not when they're placed on tiny remnant parcels as an afterthought. Scattered tot lots and community gardens that break up an otherwise intact urban fabric: no. At this location, a park won't serve as any kind of quality gathering area.

whatever
whatever

"you are a stickler, What…."

lol, maybe that's one of the ways I fit in on this forum - there's often a lot of stickling going on in many different ways!

But my question wasn't just sticking about the word you'd complained of even though it wasn't written. The concept too - in that it didn't look like jbny even wrote any equivalent of the preservationists-against-progress meme which you reacted about so strongly.

(unless there was a dog whistle I didn't detect…)

Woods79
Woods79

I worked for Marrano for years and they'd turn a forest in West Seneca or Amherst into a 70 unit development, fully sold in 3 years. That was the "Roaring 2000s" I realize, so maybe 3 years for 25 units is now the "going pace," but the fact remains that they are a ways off from 25 units currently. I spoke with Pat Marrano personally about this very piece of land and he said you can't make money there. Angelo Natale eventually agreed (the other side of Starin toward Kenmore is a different story). My understanding is that Burke was desperate.

WCPerspective
WCPerspective

I'd be more concerned if there were only one or two homes sold. The developer is probably pleased with the pace of sales all things considered. I've seens suburban subdivisions in the area take one or two years (or more) to build out a phase of 25 homes (Essex Homes, Marrano, others).

LastManIn
LastManIn

You should research a few more. You'd be shocked to see how much more civilized the RC's are compared to others in some regards. But it's cool to bash certain religions nowadays. Only certain ones though.

Woods79
Woods79

Is it safe to say that the demand for those lots and the accompanying houses is not robust? I live on the other side closer to Starin and the equipment operators who were excavating the fill (to be sold to a homeowner in Amherst) on that side said that houses wouldn't be built there in "this guy's lifetime." Now we have a half acre wide mud-scar that greets people traveling down Starin so the developers can flip a few bucks in fill to private homeowners? If he's prepared to piecemeal chunks of neighborhood out whenever he needs lunch money the people who pushed for this ( Lo Curto)debacle ought to be ashamed.

buffloonitick
buffloonitick

it's not mud and slander and propaganda, the facts are the facts, care to dispute them?

and for the record, I'm a capitalist and middle of the road politically. so spare us and put down your broad based paint brush.

btw what happened to your war on christmas? time is getting short, ramp it up already.

WCPerspective
WCPerspective

Could be contingent on selling an existing home and/or mortgage approval (buyer makes selection of model and upgrades, gets sales price from building, goes to bank for final loan approval)

NorthBuf
NorthBuf

Yeah, I meant the institution of religion but it's slanted against RC/Christianity because that is what I'm most familiar with.

Woods79
Woods79

There are 5 structures on that property, and we are entering the 3rd year since the marketing campaign began. What are the 4 other sales "contingent" upon?

LastManIn
LastManIn

Don't single out one when asking these questions. This goes for MOST religions.

WCPerspective
WCPerspective

You mean six sold and four other contingent sales plus two models = 12 lots 'taken' since the models opened in June?

Buffalobooster7
Buffalobooster7

Buffalo has more than enough "historic architecture".An extensive park system is vital to any city new or old.Check with any city planner and it'll be clearer.

Woods79
Woods79

This thread dovetails nicely with the Colvin Estates (lack of) conversation. 2 new houses went up this calendar year, in addition to the two models and the house that went up partially last year. That leaves 2 models, 2 completed houses (not occupied) and a mostly finished one. 5 houses in 3 years. The project has sucked from day one. Just look in the back yard of the 250K dollar model on the North side, you see a retaining wall, and a decrepit shed in the yard of the adjoining 65k dollar property. What a joke, and yet no one wants to talk about this joke.

NorthBuf
NorthBuf

What institution has a history of killing those that refuse to convert?

More recently, what institution wishes to deny rights to the majority of the world's population? Denying women the right to do what they wish to their body? Denying marriage equality?

Which institution discourages the use of safe sex practices in HIV torn areas of the world?

Which institution refuses to believe basic tenets of modern biology for no valid reason?

Which institution puts their leaders in gold palaces (and Oakland Place) at the cost of people that could actually use their support?

I won't even get into their de facto support of child molestation.

What good the Church does is tainted by these underlying issues and could easily be replaced by Nonsectarian groups

paulsobo
paulsobo

Well if you want to throw mud and slander and propaganda in the direction of catholics, why dont you be fair because there is far more atheist, agnostic, jewish, islamic, protestant etc than there is catholic.

http://www.catholicleague.org/

Pedophili Rabbi, one in NJ in particular comes to mind, a few short paragraphs reported in the NYTimes in the backpages. An accused catholic priest multiple front page paragraphs. Synagogues dont get sued for pedophilic rabbis. Catholic parishs do.

Same goes for every other non-religion and religion.

Spare me and everyone else your rabid and delusional anti-catholic and socialist/communist liberalism.

jwright
jwright

Unpopular opinion, but North Buffalo is the new East Side, some pockets of great neighborhoods yes, but for the most part it's going down fast.

buffloonitick
buffloonitick

talk about being blinded;

faith is the belief in something not supported by factual proof.

as far as totalitarian regimes and atheism, the Nazis and the Catholic Church worked together.

what does this kinky fetish stuff like this Polish priest getting whipped cream licked off of his knee caps have to do with anything related to Jesus or Christianity?

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/09/20/schoolchildren-licked-cream-legs-polish-initiation_n_1899602.html

not to mention the rampant pedophilia and the Vatican coverup of those crimes. it's no mystery as to why people don't want to be part of an institution like that.

paulsobo
paulsobo

Holding us and our country back from what exactly?

You think that society can exist without faith, family, marriage, community, etc.

It takes these things to build a successful nation.

You think that society can exist is a relativistic state?

It can so long as we are a rich nation then we can use government and money to hold everything together while people spend time on individual interests, nihilism, excess, excentricity, etc.

As we saw in the Soviet Union and eastern block, and are now seeing in Central and Western Europe...you take away the money and the people dont know what to do because the government did it for them. Its all collapsing from the rotten void within.

Just like here in the US. We had a successful economy...and then the rich exported it and sold it and lived off it. They killed the poor and the middle class economies. Where were the poor and the middle class...why didnt they oppose it...becuase they were so busy with their own interests and disenfranchised from their community that they were powerless if they saw it...and most didnt even see it.

People like you are so blinded by your atheism...all the totalitarian regimes love atheism...it keeps the populace powerless.

Buffalo All Star
Buffalo All Star

ehh...it won't go fallow. You don't pay $115k for an "abandoned" church just to let it sit..akin to the same churches a few blocks East.

Regardless of what it is..It'll be used. Your talking a tim hortons or a Rite aide/walrgreens w.e.

When I saw the asbestos removal commencing..I thought Creative structures picked it up..had their name all over it. Homes would sell no problem..any update on Colvin Estates though?? Those are 250k houses in a largely 100k neighborhood..I drive by on occasion and there never seems to be much going on. Not an appropriate investment at those prices..1/2 I'd think about it.

How many lots are left?

LouisTully
LouisTully

How much stock do we put in some of these neighborhood designations? My neighborhood is known as Lakeview according to some sources. Ever hear of the Lakeview neighborhood of Buffalo? Me neither.

grad94
grad94

how come pro-active responses are always required of citizens (who may or may not think of themselves as preservationists) instead of owners?

Travelrrr
Travelrrr

Could be. Guess I am accustomed to the "p" word being thrown about. It seemed insinuated here.

Boy, you are a stickler, What....

grad94
grad94

agreed. we seem to have this bizarre though romantic idea that "nature" is the cure for whatever ails a city. we never learn that installing little "green spaces" does not automatically make a place safer or more desirable. they just add to city's already considerable maintenance burden and serve as wino and hoodlum bait.

there's a reason most modern urban "green spaces" can be considered grass on welfare.

whatever
whatever

trav>"What I am countering is your statement that "we" don't want progress"

Is it ok if I ask where exactly jbny14 supposedly stated that any of you don't want progress?

His/her comments don't use the p-word word at all. You, grad, and Louis so far are the only who used that word in this thread. Not jbny14.

Perhaps are you referring to

jbny14>"Get out of the way and let us improve our neighborhood." ?

That looks like not a generalized claim that any of you don't want progress, but a legitimate difference of opinion about what most practically defines improvement for that location at this point in time.

whatever
whatever

deaner>"Anyone who owns a car is required to have auto insurance."

How is that relevant? What's required for cars is liability insurance for potential damage done with the car to someone else's property or person.

There's no requirement to buy insurance for a car's indefinite upkeep for any number of years.

The legal owner of a car can legally demolish it any time he or she wants to, from the moment they drive it off the dealer's lot.

whatever
whatever

What difference does it make who's paying for the demo, and why should the public even have a right to know that?

(as long as it isn't being funded by taxpayers - in that case, of course the public has a right to know, but there's no indication that's the case - the Common Council hasn't appropriated an City funds for this demo, etc.)

Even if demo-by-neglect didn't happen, isn't the owner of a non-landmarked building like this one legally allowed to demo it by bulldozer for any reason they want regardless of its condition or anything else?

LouisTully
LouisTully

Anyone remember that story a while back about a judge finally getting tough with delinquent, neglectful property owners who owed some hundreds of thousands $ in fines and code violations?

Anyone know if anything ever came of that? I probably answered my own question. I'd love to pay a regular person a regular salary to lead the Employment Center, not a cronie, and use the rest to higher a collections tough guy to go after negligent owners.

Travelrrr
Travelrrr

Good god--Buffalo does not need any more parks. It needs density, and revitalizing its historic architecture is one of the most efficient, and environmentally-sound, ways of doing that.

Buffalobooster7
Buffalobooster7

A Park would be perfect there.Property values in the area would rise and tons of pollutants could be sequestered underground.On average people have a fifteen percent lower health care costs when residing next,near or across from a park.A birds eye view of the surrounding area shows a need for green space.Please help turn this from an eyesore to a welcoming place.

ivan putski jr
ivan putski jr

gangs of pool cue wielding thugs from next door....a Hooper style barroom brawl is what I'm thinking

norwalk
norwalk

Sell it to CREATIVE STRUCTURES for $1..They have completed some nice projects in the neighborhood on Parkiside and the now the Fairfeild Library..Then give them the money it will cost to demolish it to help them readapt it for a new use....From the outside it is still a beautiful building... Very sad...once again the city let these absentee landlords cause this problem...

Dan
Dan

Yet, in the burbs, every summer Catholic parishes compete with each other to have the biggest, and wildest lawn fete, with the obligatory beer tent.

TheRealBuffaloBill
TheRealBuffaloBill

No beer either, I asked the church and was told no in no uncertain terms.

North Park
North Park

The former church and its entire block are specifically omitted from North Park on Buffalo Rising's own article of listed neighborhoods in the city.

http://www.buffalorising.com/2009/08/neighborhoods.html

North Park Centers on Parkside and North Drive and encompasses all of the winding streets in that area of North Buffalo. Expanding it to include practically all of North Buffalo like Arch advocates is ludicrous.

JSmith
JSmith

I said that I do think there is probably demand for a half dozen or so houses on that block. I am much more skeptical of demand for the 100 or so houses planned for Colvin Estates (the rail section you mention), where there are now, I think, *three* houses under construction after how many months, plus a $500,000 gift from the city in the form of the the street infrastructure.

brownteeth
brownteeth

I suppose you could always lie about what your plans are for the church. I don't know what legal reprocussions are for that once you own the property though? The odd part is that apparently they are ok with a wine and beer license, just not liquor. Its a shame because ultimately many will just collapse or be demolished. Since it is such an epidemic in Buffalo perhaps the city ought to step in to remove such restrictions, at least in commercial areas.

ke$ha
ke$ha

I live nearby... as far as I can tell, "gangs" means the kids that hang around and skateboard over the steps and the parking lot, and some idiots that break in like the kid who started the fire.

Makes it sound more urgent to be demoed in the press release, though!

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