This past Sunday Buffalo’s Young Preservationists (BYP) came together to make Valentine’s Day cards for a number of properties that don’t appear to be getting much love and attention these days. What a great way to draw attention to forlorn buildings in need of a friend.
Last year was the first year that members of the BYP gathered to make cards for four of the city’s spoiling treasures. This year that number of structures has grown, and like the Grinch’s heart, so has the movement… to other cities across the US. Once again we are seeing Buffalo preservationists taking a proactive stance when it comes to affecting change in the mindset of a City and its people regarding the importance of our architectural stock and the irreplaceable heritage that goes along with it.
Members of the BYP look for houses and buildings that not only have character, but also good bones and are worthy of saving. “What started out as a creative idea has blossomed into a multi-city, grassroots driven initiative that continues to evolve and inspire communities to rethink and repurpose their vacant buildings,” said Bernice Radle, steering committee member of BYP and co-organizer of Buffalo’s Heart Bomb initiative. “This is a way to shine a positive light and help the public understand that there are great buildings out there in need of attention, new ownership and ultimately – a new life.”
Once the buildings are “heart bombed”, BYP will spend long hours throughout the year utilizing its resources to ensure that these buildings have a brighter future. The goal is to secure loving owners for each of the properties, both big and small. In doing so, the BYP is leading by example – an action that has already proven to be get results. Out of the four houses given heart bombs last year, all are still standing. But what’s more important is that two of those houses were purchased and rehabbed by loving owners. Now that is proof positive that these types of initiatives work. “The [bombing] action aims to use the traditional celebration surrounding Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to have the community learn about why some of these structures are vacant and blighted,” said Jason Wilson, fellow steering committee member. “It’s easy to become comfortable and to just accept our vacant building crisis as is, and our initiative seeks to shake the individual out of that content state by highlighting the real potential of our City.”
*An evolution from last year’s action, this year BYP Heart Bombed five unique historic structures across this city including a daylight factory, a church, a multifamily apartment building and two residential homes. Below is a description of each of those buildings and their story. If you are interested in buying a property, donating time or money to the cause and/or getting involved please contact BYP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1214 Michigan Street – A single family house, on the edge of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus
This single family house is in great shape and has a ton of original character. This house has original hardwood trim, floors, doors – you name it, this one has it; it’s a real historic gem. This house is currently threatened with demolition by its current owner who has neglected the property for years. During our visit to the property we met a neighbor who explained her frustrating one year long attempt to purchase the house. The current owner has rejected all offers and is convinced that demolishing the property is the only alternative. This of course is a very common problem. However, it is not too late! BYP aims to market this property and is willing to work with interested buyers and connect them with the city and the owner to keep this historic house old of the landfill.
Trico Plant # 1 Building – A daylight factory in downtown Buffalo
Trico is an iconic, National Registered listed building that continues to be threatened with demolition by the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. For the last year BYP and other preservationists in the community have been working with the current owner to identify an alternative adaptive reuse for the historic landmark. Local preservationists have hired professionals to investigate and identify an alternative proposal that will save the entire building, one that mixes new uses with its historic character. With several other examples of successful reuses across the City, State and Nation, saving Trico is a no brainer for the growing Medical Campus. Visit www.savetrico.com for more information.
1469 Niagara Street – A Four Story, Brick Mixed-Use Building on Buffalo’s West Side
This is a great story! When BYP went to Heart Bomb this handsome, four-story building the owner was on site working on the property! Come to find out, the owner is working on rehabbing the building slowly over the winter with plans to have the building fully rehabbed and rented by this summer. The owner commented first hand about the challenges of purchasing a long- vacant building. The past owner was sentence to jail for the prior neglect of the property which made the transfer of it even more difficult. BYP has offered to extend a helping hand if the new owner needs any assistance.
41 Spruce Street – An East Side Church
This simple yet elegant 1880s church has been marked for demolition by it’s current congregation despite several attempts from the community to purchase it. Unlike other vacant religious structures, this is a church that can easily be converted or reused due to its manageable size. If you are interested in purchasing the property or convincing the owner to sell, please contact us.
212 Florida Street – A Double in the Historic Hamlin Park Preservation District
This two unit house has been city owned since 2009 and was picked by BYP because of its location and existing condition. This house is manageable in size, a money maker for any potential owner and is also located in the historic Hamlin Park neighborhood on Buffalo’s East Side. A National Register Historic District initiative, led by local consulting firm Preservation Studios, is currently underway and will provide the future owner of this property with the ability to use Historic Tax Credits as part of any rehab effort. The Historic Tax Credit program provides owners with tax initiatives to invest in their historic properties when it might otherwise be cost prohibitive to do so. This house is in decent shape and can easily be yours. If you are interested in this property, please contact BYP.