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Wrecking Buffalo: Artspace Joins In

In the race to mediocrity, Buffalo is determined to win.  Another valuable piece of urban fabric and irreplaceable historic heritage has been reduced to landfill in an effort to further build the city’s credentials as a top contender in this contest.  Endowed as it is with such a spectacular wealth of historic buildings of unusual quality and richness, Buffalo started this race with a major handicap.  But, this has not deterred those who will not relent in making sure Buffalo is once and for all crowned champion of placeless places. 
Until last week, the little building at the corner of Coe Place and Main Street held the fabric of this block intact.  The brick building consisted of a two-story storefront with a back wing which was likely a house that was added on to.  It is gone now and this recently block-long contiguous row of buildings now has a giant missing front tooth.  One more bothersome historic building down.  Only a few thousand left to go!  In the meantime, historic and quaint Coe Place has seen several buildings renovated since Artspace moved in (including the almost demolished Hamilton Ward house).  Oh well, guess we are stuck with those for a while.
The demolished property is owned by Artspace.  They purchased the building when the Artspace project was under construction in the adjoining building a few years ago.  At that time the corner building had no windows and crumbling masonry at the rear and also needed a new roof.  There were no definitive plans for the building but Artspace was looking for entrepreneurs with ideas on how to reuse the property.
Reports are that Artspace put a new roof on the building to the tune of more than $100,000 shortly after purchase.  No other improvements since were apparent since that investment.
According to a May 2010 report by Tredo Engineers submitted to the Preservation Board, the “existing structure’s condition was irreparable.”  The engineering firm first inspected the structure in October 2008 and in less than two years, the north wall had “noticeably and significantly diminished.”  An attempt to repair the masonry bearing walls in early 2009 was unsuccessful.  The wall’s condition was so poor that “any attempt to follow the proposed repair details would collapse the wall and that the only option for repair at that point was the complete removal and reconstruction of the wall.”
102024056_885f964a34_b.jpgA large horizontal crack developed and the lower portion of the wall had shifted into the building approximately one inch.  Furthermore, the first floor joints along the wall had deteriorated due to water infiltration and the east wall was showing signs of mortar loss due to roof water cascading down the face of the wall.  Stabilization of the structure would have required that at least 50 percent of the first floor and 75 percent of the north wall would have to be removed and replaced as well as repair to a substantial portion of the east wall.  Tredo concluded that “permanent repair of this building was no longer a viable option.”  The Buffalo Preservation Board signed-off on the demolition.
Sources say that Artspace possibly decided not to continue investing in the building in order to provide additional parking for its building.  A group from the Buffalo Expat Network was recently attempting to put in place a deal to restore the building and had offered up $10,000 in stabilization money until talks stalled.
Is Buffalo doomed to be a city with a few pretty buildings surrounded by parking?  If that is the case then this block is ripe for more parking at the other end.  At the north end of the block the U.S. Post Office occupies a long, low commercial building which at their request had most of its storefront windows filled in with concrete blocks over 20 years ago.  You would have to agree that concrete block storefronts are a nice touch.  They even splurged on some mauve paint for the bunker windows.  Just a few years ago as Artspace came along there were some rumblings that the Post Office wanted out of this site.  If they do leave you can just see the vultures licking their beaks.  Mmmmmm- PARKING.
 
Let’s give Artspace the benefit of the doubt though.  They promoted their loft project as a way to rebuild city neighborhoods and on that basis received substantial government funding.  They never talk about adding parking as a way to rebuild cities so maybe we are just being cynical.  Perhaps they are planning on putting up a new building on this corner?  Yes, that must be the plan.
 
Sarcasm aside, if you are interested in getting more involved in the preservation of Buffalo’s precious and irreplaceable architectural heritage please check out the Preservation Ready Facebook page where we can hook you up with some preservation initiatives including an exciting opportunity to get in on the ground floor planning for a ‘young preservationists’ group in Buffalo.
Second image by David Torke at Fix Buffalo

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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  • The Kettle

    What a waste.

  • bobbycat

    Artspace is a corporation that has already sucked $17 million in corporate welfare. Someone put this in the forums section asking if Artspace has done anything for Buffalo. I love how you let them off the hook on this one too. I don’t know why Artspace gets a free pass at demolition by neglect and corporate welfare.
    I wonder what Steel has to say about this? Will he apologize on behalf of Artspace or will he hold them to the same scrutiny as other owners and developers. Inquiring minds want to know.
    My guess is that he won’t say anything at all.

  • grad94

    this modest little commercial building was “irreparable” but the webb was not? let’s admit that some owners have their own definition of “irreparable:” it isn’t ‘what cannot be fixed,’ it is ‘where i want more parking.’

  • bobbycat

    Do you think it’ll be a gated parking lot like they have at the Oak Street and Elk Terminal lofts? High fences with a secure gate, maybe some barbed wire to keep the locals out?

  • Travelrrr

    boobycat, it is too early on a Monday to be such a boob. Clearly, Steele admonishes the act and the fact that this building could have been stabilized for “$10k”. I also heard that they thought of a pocket park for the site, but it is evident they need(ed) the parking. Too bad, they could have used the edifice at least.
    Friends, the fault is in our (lack) of strategic planning and that we have no officials and prominent business people clamoring for the cause.

  • phrank

    Parking? How many spaces could we be talking about? 8 max? I think this should be viewed as an opportunity to provide an eye-catching modern anchor to the corner and the rest of the block. They can add a few more units to ArtSpace with a storefront below.
    I hope that is the plan.

  • hamp

    I don’t believe that the building was “irreparable”. That’s nonsense. I suspect the engineering firm said what Artspace wanted to hear. I wonder how much Artspace paid Tredo?
    I would also expect that artists would be more sensitive to the value that the corner building had for the city, and not demolish it for more parking.

  • bobbycat

    Did Steel write the article? All the article says is that the expat network were willing to pony up $10,000 towards stabilization but talks stalled with Artspace. Maybe it would have cost more than $10,000 to stabilize or maybe there were other factors at play.
    The funny thing is that we didn’t hear much about the building until today. Why the lack of visibility on BRO?

  • Tahooter

    Has the BR author or anyone else bothered to simply ask Artspace about its long-term plans?
    If Artspace did invest 100,000 in a new roof after the purchase, I would say that is good faith intentions. Cynics should back off. Perhaps Artspace is cutting its loss, and adding a (temp) pocket park or a new build.

  • tom.wonderful

    Between a rock and a hard place. Can’t blame them for not wanting to keep sinking money into a building nobody was interested in. 10k would not go very far by the sounds of it towards stabalization/renovation either. It’s easy to admonish them from the comfort of your living room when it’s not your building creating a Hazard nor your money. As mentioned, there are 1000’s of building and many are just to damn far gone to bring back to life. Very few people have pockets deep enough to take on these types of projects. Lastly, the building may be gone but this story is written with much hear say. “It is reported” is not a fact. Typical for BRO when something does not go their way and rush to make a post. Research people.

  • bobbycat

    I like what you’ve done with my alias, very good work for someone who has yet to hit adolescence, your mom should be proud!

  • bobbycat

    Artspace is a corporation from another state. They don’t even have representatives in Buffalo, just the lofts and vacant storefronts.

  • Jesse

    Waaaa waaaaa waaa. It was a crappy little brick dump. You guys should be patting Artspace on the back for wasting 100k plus to try to save the thing. 10k to stabilize? If they put 100k into a roof and that didn’t work, wtf is 10k going to do? Buy some super glue at bulk pricing?
    I’m all for saving architecturally relevant buildings, historic places, and even pushing building to the street to make it walkable. But this “fabric” nonsense for a crappy building with ZERO commercial value is over the top.
    Save your excitement for the places that deserve saving.

  • Arch

    Urban Fabric V. making a destination location more viable? … I dunno. In this case , the urban fabric in question was about as unremarkable as the Main St furniture warehouse that was sacrificed for Delta Sonic (which btw is wildly successful). It gets tough to lay the same old preservation line outside of a preservation district on a building that was, well pretty ordinary.
    And those who question this demolition should spend pay attention to the City of Buffalo Preservation Board meeting minutes, since all building demolitions have to be approved by them.

  • RumRunner

    10K amounts to hiring the labor, setting them up and getting them tools to do the stabilization work, not any of the work itself. Add to that the considerable extra expense of sending work crews into a building which is documented to have walls cracking and in serious danger of collapse and what you have is what you got; a building worth less than its repair costs.
    To me it looks like Artspace did what they could by replacing the roof to mitigate the water damage. If BR is looking for somebody to blame for the loss of this building, than maybe the previous owner(s) who didnt bother to maintain the site should also be sought out and tarred with the same brush as Artspace.

  • Chris

    I know you guys at BR can post whatever you want but there should be something to show that this is an editorial piece rather than news.
    Not that this subject and event isn’t an important issue facing upstate new york, but this piece just sounds so whiny and over dramatized. Like some college student wrote it for a term paper.

  • STEEL

    Damn shame.

  • https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawmuSPoRB5u8BRtlLD7wgISV4DU8vawf654

    buffalo expat proposal – draft
    see here:
    http://www.lagearchitecture.com/content/75/

  • timvanman

    you have to take into account the fact the walls were crumbling. I wouldn’t want to go inside. It would have cost much much more than 10,000 from the BEN to repair it

  • grad94

    one of the reasons artspace got the financial assistance that it did was because it was supposed to strengthen the neighborhood. more people living there means more people needing nearby services and amenities means more business opportunities means fewer vacant properties means more tax revenue. possibly even more owner-occupants choosing to buy houses nearby because of the arts vibe.
    i mean, wasn’t this their case all along? so artspace doesn’t really believe its own rhetoric after all? couldn’t they have just mothballed it until someone with the means took it off their hands? like what the expat network was trying to do?
    demolition is like suicide: a permanent solution to a temporary problem. if we got superb corner buildings in exchange for ordinary ones, then no one would be lamenting this loss. but in the last 50+ years, when have we ever gotten a really good corner building in exchange for an ordinary one?
    of all the corner erosion of the 20th century for parking, gas stations, and convenience stores, which is almost every commercial corner in the entire city of buffalo, i can think of only two corner improvements and they are frizlen’s development at elmwood and bryant and the lexington coop.
    this demo matters not because what we lost was a grand masterpiece (it wasn’t) but because what we’ll get in return will never be half as good as what was lost.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    Not sure if this one was beyond saving, my own house was condemned and claims were made that it was too far gone. It really comes down to how much effort and how many dollars the owners are willing to put into it. I would be a little skeptical of the assessment, the owners may have steered the outcome towards their own plans.

  • hamp

    Want another reason to save the building, besides its value as urban fabric?
    Demolition is not sustainable. It’s bad for the environment and goes against what so many in the community are trying to do: foster Smart Growth.
    The “greenest” building is an existing building. We can’t keep knocking stuff down, and replacing it with new buildings. We’re running out of landfill space, and new materials need to be manufactured, shipped etc.
    Demolition is dumb.

  • JSmith

    I agree about the Elmwood/Bryant corner and the Co-op.
    Iskalo is also building a pretty nice corner building in Kenmore on Delaware and Hazeltine that is a big improvement over what is there.
    The Empire Grill building on Hertel and Norwalk is very nicely designed and appropriate for its context.
    But I suppose that’s Elmwood, Delaware, and Hertel, not midtown Main Street. And I too am hard-pressed to think of many commercial corners that were ever improved by new construction (as opposed to renovation).

  • burbsarenotbuffalo

    You are probably true- artists probably would be more sensitive to the situation. However, due to ridiculous laws and housing discrimination rules, Artspace is no longer an artist housing. The majority of the residents are low income individuals who are not artists and are allowed to live there due to the the type of funding that Artspace received. I said this all along when people were just falling all over themselves about how great this project was. You can’t take tax credits and expect to have a say in who can live someplace and who can’t.. and Artspace knew this..the artists are no longer in the majority.

  • chevy064

    Tearing down old buildings isn’t a bad thing if it is replaced with something shiny and new……but that is never the case in Buffalo. They tear down buildings and leave checkerboard patterns of “shovel ready” sites littering the urban landscape.
    I wish Buffalo would get it’s act together. I cannot believe that Buffalo is not a back office mecca for New York City and Tornoto. There should be several new scrapers on the skyline and companies looking to enjoy the lower cost of doing business in western NY, but for some reason it just isn’t so.

  • NBuffguy

    By the way, “Wrecking Buffalo: Artspace Joints In”
    Shouldn’t it be “joins in”?

  • Chris

    I think the office occupancy report that just came out (CBRE) points directly to this.
    http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/news/2011/01/21/buffalo-class-a-vacancy-rate-dips.html
    I hope that HSBC leaves their current building and opens the door to this opportunity. The developers are the only ones to gain by keeping occupancy rates high.

  • Ivan Putski

    Main street is pretty sad….when a chain car wash is the crown jewel holding the neighborhood together you know times are tough

  • Buffalo_Born_1981

    Who wrote this? Why hide behind the “buffalo rising” avatar?

  • brownteeth

    I know for a fact that Artspace spent a lot of money (tens of thousands) on a brand new roof and masonry restoration prior to this. The masonry restoration attempt failed because everything that was removed in an attempt to find solid masonry and mortar to adhere to just crumbled. The interior side of the exterior walls was caving in as well which you could not see from the exterior. The existing mortar was falling right off the brick making it impossible to repair without literally removing every brick.
    I do agree this is a huge tragedy but I also know for a fact that they spent a lot of money to try and stabilize this building before it became unfeasible to go further without the walls either collapsing or spending way more money than feasible to essentially rebuild the entire masonry shell. Also, I believe they plan to use the lot as green space for the tenants, not a parking lot. They are also salvaging much of the brick too. This was not a decision made over night either. This is one of those cases where it is just a shame, nothing more or less.

  • grad94

    thanks for adding empire grill to the all-too-short list. wasn’t it by catharine faust? it is way better than anything frizlen has done, particularly the elmwood/bryant development. note to investors: give faust more work!

  • NBuffguy

    LOL. I see the title is corrected now, and it says “joins in” instead of “joints in.” But what’s really funny is that I see someone voted with a thumbs down on my comment that advised the author of the obvious typo. I was trying to give him or her a chance to make the correction, but you gotta love the way some people vote negatively for just about any reason. 🙂

  • grad94

    yup, some of us get automatic thumbs down no matter what we say.

  • STEEL

    It does not even have parking – tear it down!

  • Lego1981

    Untill our so callled um ‘leaders’ in the business community can grow up, network, and learn how NOT to continue doing what they have been doing for decades (scaring businesses away) then maby we can GROW this city again and BUILD instead of knocking everything down with no replacements other than empty lots. If we want to see ‘NEW’ buildings going up and old ones restored, we need BUSINESSES to relocate here. But, to do that, we need new leaders with BALLS to make it happen.

  • grad94

    “balls?”
    translation: no women need apply.

  • skybox

    Saying they need the ‘vag’ to make it happen just doesn’t sound the same. That being what it is there are some tremendously strong women out there with more fortitude and leadership than most men with their anatomically correct endowments. Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Condi Rice, Pratibha Patil, Dilma Vana Linhares Rousseff, all have more “balls” than most men. They do what is right and good for who they lead instead of those who pays like many men do. You can throw in Rosa Parks, Mother Theresa, Sister Karen, Princess Diana, and a thousands of other women in there as well. They are strong and determined women who have the vag to do what is right and to make a difference. *peace*

  • Lego1981

    Oh, women can have ‘Balls’ too, it’s just an expression. Need them hardcore aggressive people to run this town instead of the laid back and childish ones we have now.

  • whatever

    It’s much more than a car wash. That Delta Sonic sells a good variety at pretty reasonable prices of things people want in any neighborhood – gasoline, oil, washer fluid, coffee, snacks, fresh sandwiches, soup, beer, pop, pizza, salads, etc.

  • whatever

    BT, very good comment with substance to rebut some of the article’s claims.
    However, I wonder if calling this a huge tragedy waters down the meaning of huge tragedy.
    Despite Artspace’s efforts, they concluded the building reached the end of its practical life span (as everything does). Almost always the decision is inheretly subjective because except after a fire pretty much all buildings could always be saved with a huge amount of effort and huge amount of money.
    If it’s now a huge tragedy every single time any building that some people like isn’t saved by its owner, then what should we call the things in life that are huge tragedies? Do we need new words for those?
    On a related note, another comment I saw here a minute ago asked if the departed building was on “the list” some of the BR folks were making last year of buildings they feel should have to be maintained forever and ever. Now I don’t see that comment, so maybe it’s temporarily missing due to a database glitch or something. If it’s back, sorry for redundancy, and if not then I’ll repeat that inquiry of where the list is published? Maybe Artspace didn’t know where to look for it.

  • whatever

    NB, down votes happen toward comments from all sides and quality levels.
    It even happens sometimes for my comments. Although I think usually if it happens for mine, it’s probably due to people being so excited to up vote that they click too soon while the mouse is near the down thumb. In that way, down votes can be even bigger compliments than up.

  • Urban Cowboy

    This article is a waste of everyones intelligence….
    Ya I know, it would have been awesome if this building was repaired and turned into a flower shop or little grocery store, but the fact is its not.. The before and after pics are both hideous. Besides being located on a corner, this building has no historical significance. It never was appealing. True parking lots suck, but it would take an architectural master piece on this corner to significantly improve on what was there.
    There are better fights to fight then this one.

  • brownteeth

    I suppose the wording “huge tragedy” is a bit overkill. I was simply trying to say that I am not pro-demolition, but working in construction it is a reality that we face. The owner made a valiant effort to stabilize the building despite the fact they had no immediate plans for it. Unfortunately nature got the best of them first. Unlike some folks on BRO I live in a realistic world where it’s not always as cut and dry as simply saving a building or not. In this case the owners made a solid and expensive effort but structural masonry repair can be like a loose thread on a sweater, sometimes it unravels before you can sew it back together.

  • STEEL

    The problem is not that this building was demolished. The problem is that the community was passive and is passive to the neglect that so many owners uses as a business policy in Buffalo. Demolition by neglect should be be an acceptable business practice.

  • Travelrrr

    I think that meant to read “should NOT be an acceptable practice….”

  • STEEL

    The list is not published yet and this building is not on it. The list that is being developed will not be a comprehensive list of all buildings that should be saved. That would be a monumental task that is not possible for a small group of volunteers working to shed some light on a few buildings that should be saved. If you or anyone else would like to help us out in this endeavor we welcome the help. You can get in touch through the Preservation ready face book page.
    http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=151800981514267
    We need researchers, writers, photographers, artists, gallery owners and IT people among others in the effort. Please join us. We can’t necessarily save a building directly but we will do all we can to get the right people in contact with the right building.
    That being said part of the list is being rolled out in Spree in each issue the first building was in the January issue – the Breckenridge Street Church.

  • STEEL

    yes exactly

  • Tahooter

    …right..I know. I bet they have a phone. It took me two seconds to find their number: 612.333.9012.
    A responsible BR author would have tried to contact Artspace for an answer or a ‘no comment.’

  • buffalofalling

    Race to mediocrity? We won that race in the 1980s, now we’re racing to the bottom and if it weren’t for Detroit and Youngstown stubbornly standing in our way, we’d have won already.
    Optimism is a disease that doens’t allow room for reality to seep into the discussion and people to make honest assessments. Anyone who thinks this city/region is mediocre isn’t paying attention outside thier gentrified neighborhood.

  • I, Cartographer

    I’m trying to figure this one out, too, chevy064: “I cannot believe that Buffalo is not a back office mecca for New York City and Toronto. There should be several new scrapers on the skyline and companies looking to enjoy the lower cost of doing business in Western NY.”

  • The Kettle

    BF>” reality to seep into the discussion and people to make honest assessments.”
    But blind pessimism isn’t “reality” or “honest assessments.”

  • The Kettle

    That was funny. I gave you a rare thumbs up for that 🙂

  • sbrof

    delta sonic needed a couple more pumps. with 50% of downtown destroyed for parking lots, the only thing left to do is drive there and park.. which puts gas sales is the growth industry for this area…

  • pampiniform

    It’s interesting that preservation board gave the go ahead to demolish that building, as opposed to other buildings that have been up for consideration recently. I wonder if Artspace had to submit a feasibility study to prove that there wasn’t a practical reuse for it, or an estimate of the costs to demolish it. How did they let this one go, but they refuse to tear down other old decrepit buildings that are impeding a legitimate business?
    And in any case, why is this only an issue now? That building was clearly falling apart for years. Even driving by it you could tell it was in awful shape. And what’s so special about it? There are hundreds of buildings just like that one in Buffalo that are falling apart, and that nobody is making much of a fuss about.

  • Buffalo All Star

    This is kinda crazy.. a crappy buffalo double double with a brick addition? Mediocrity is what I think of when i see buildings like this AND ppl writing as if its significant? WOW

  • brownteeth

    I totally agree. However with that, we should hear the facts on both sides before judging every demo that happens. This is a good case that shows it’s not always as simple as saying, “the owner left it to rot and is now tearing it down”. Unfortunately with a lot of these era buildings nobody realizes how unstable they are until you start working on them. I bet this building would have stood for another decade as long as no one touched it but what good is that if when you try to rehab it, it falls apart?

  • STEEL

    I cannot speak to this building’s condition but there is a long string of Buffalo history where owners hire engineers to prepare the report the findings that they want reported. There are several buildings still standing in Buffalo that were initially reported as too far gone by owners who wanted them to be gone – that would include the Guaranty building and the ECC City Campus building.

  • STEEL

    Cities are filled with ordinary buildings that when put together in an urban composition make for great places. Great cities are never made of great buildings surrounded by swaths of emptiness.

  • CGirl

    The Artspace lofts were always designated as low-income housing for artists.
    Also, your claim that ridiculous laws and housing discrimination rules coupled with the funding that Artspace received have caused this to move away from artist housing is factually incorrect. Relatively recent federal legislation (circa 2008) provides that this type of project may, legally, give preference to artists.

  • grad94

    anatomically speaking, the correct term would be ovaries.

  • skweeki

    Truthfully, did anyone REALLY notice that this building really existed before this article?
    Also, to be quite honest, I really believe that the residents in this section of Main St really don’t care that buildings are being torn down.
    Before I am slandered, I do live downtown and I have done so for many years. Booyah !!

  • SomeLameGrownUpName

    Eh….in a city with a 40% vacancy rate, I’m amazed anyone wouldn’t rather have trees/grass or even a place to park to go to FUNCTIONAL buildings than all these random boring, standard, not-special-in-any-way, deteriorating, dangerous, or otherwise useless money pits.
    And I’ve always wondered this of all the ‘obstructionists’….if most buildings in Buffalo are in the neighborhood of 100 years old, give or take….which is a blink of time….how long would one expect them to last? Do you think they should be repaired in their original image infinitely?
    And since 20 years before that, nearly none existed, wouldn’t returning it to green space be true preservation? Or, say, any house in the area that was constructed after 1950….shouldn’t they be levelled, and returned to green space?
    I speak as someone living in a preservation district forced to jump through hoops to do even the slightest repair.
    So….if everyone wants to refuse to progress….at the VERY least, I should get to keep a pony in my yard. And contract polio.

  • tesla

    Did you ask the people at Artspace what their plans are for this space once the building is demolished? No…you just jumped to the conclusion that they are going to turn it into a parking lot. I live in this building…and I can tell you that they are most certainly not. They are turning it into a community garden….with benches and maybe public art among other things…I believe that it is going to look very nice. There are a lot of kids in this building….and I am sure they would like to have a garden/park to play in rather than a crumbling building.

  • Buffalo_Resurrection

    Steel,
    Once again, you “hit the nail on the head” as I have prepared justification for demolition documentation for the client even though I personally did not agree with removal of the building.
    Unfortunately, keeping the client happy is the primary goal in today’s business world.

  • STEEL

    You are probably right – Its just that the most attractive, most vibrant, wealthiest cities are not filled with “green space” empty lots and parking lots. And at some point we have to face up to the fact that a metro with a falling population can no longer continue to spread its population out into a thinner and thinner density dependent on exponentially greater ammounts of infrastructure.

  • bobbycat

    Buffalo isn’t one of the most attractive, vibrant, or wealthiest cities. Most of those cities are newer and younger than Buffalo and most don’t have the industrial past to contend with.
    We know that you do not believe that we should develop the suburbs at a time when there is so much vacancy, blight, and demolition in the city. I don’t disagree with you there, but so much of our economy is based on the new home development and higher taxes paid in the suburbs. The world isn’t fair and it isn’t ideal. In a fair and ideal world folks wouldn’t have to leave Buffalo to find decent paying jobs. Folks like you who have moved to other cities because Buffalo doesn’t have the opportunity. There are local folks who do the same, they leave the city to find better opportunities in the suburbs. Many folks have explained that many ways before. The suburbs offer superior education, quality of services, and quality of life in terms of amenities for families, and the like. Granted the family may need to drive there, but in the winter even urban families drive almost everywhere so that urban benefit isn’t even that great.
    The people of WNY should have the same opportunities to live in new suburban homes as the residents of more prosperous communities. The fact that Buffalo is still struggling as a city shouldn’t mean that we doom our residents to failing schools, high crime, and inattentive government. Residents deserve better and deserve the opportunity to vote with their feet. The Mayor of Buffalo sees the threat of people moving away as a bigger issue than the migration of people to the suburbs and I agree. Folks who move away for work and quality of life in other cities could easily reverse that falling population trend you mention, if they only took the leap of faith to move back. Unfortunately, they prefer the comforts of warmer climates and the security of more successful cities. Until we figure out how to stop the bleeding to other cities, our urban core is going to continue to suffer.

  • STEEL

    Fewer people with 3 times more infrastructure is an insane policy. Making the city more attractive so that less infrastructure is needed is a smart policy. The insane policy costs tax payers much more than the smart policy (this is true weather you live in Buffalo, Kenmmore or Amherst). Why anyone would argue against the smart policy is incomprehensible to me.

  • pampiniform

    Sure that sounds good, but how do you propose we go about making the city more attractive? It’s easy enough to say stuff like that, but how about some concrete ideas? I’m sure you’ll mention better political leadership, and that certainly would help. But a lot of the problems the city is facing are beyond the control of even politicians, like say the 1/3 of the population living below the poverty line. What are we supposed to do with them? How about the underperforming schools? What are we supposed to do there, throw more money at them? Steel, I’d love to hear your ideas. How do they do it out there in Chicago?

  • STEEL

    First start acting like a region. Every time a suburban resident states that schools are the reason for moving to the suburbs they are saying they don’t want to have to sholder the burden of poverty in our society. If we treat poverty as a Buffalo only issue and not a regional issue it will never be solved. The city schools are a wreck because they have been given the monumental task of teaching children from a high concentration of dysfunctional families and sitations. None of the 23 school districst in Erie County would perform well under those circumstances. Untill suburban residents start to believe that these problems need to be solved with regional thinking the region will continue to sprawl and the costs of excessive infrastructure will grow and taxes will rise and property values will stay low. The idea that sprawl is not a problem to suburban residents is a fairy tale that people tell themselves to avoid the truth and responsibility. A region with a shrinking population cannot afford to keep adding infrastructure. It cannot afford excessive duplicated government and it cannot afford a central city mired in abandonment and poverty. There is no sane defense for continued spending at the edges of the metro while the center continues to rot.

  • pampiniform

    Ok, Steel, that sounds good. So how are we supposed to go about thinking regionally then? How is regional thinking going to solve the problems of poverty and poorly performing schools? What can residents of the suburbs do to help out city residents and students mired in poverty and dysfunctional families. It’s easy enough to say that, but what can we really do? I am curious what concrete ideas you have.

  • KangDangaLang

    “There is no sane defense for continued spending at the edges of the metro while the center continues to rot.”
    Yes there is, its called want. Just like the Village of Williamsville shot down the resolution of dissolving the village government to save money. People will pay higher taxes to support their cost of life. The reason they do this is to prevent what happened to the East and West sides of the city. Once lower income people start moving into a neighborhood property values go down, and so brings with it crime and poverty. Keeping taxes high is a way to keep those who can only afford to live there living in these neighborhoods, and those that cant it leaves them out.

  • bobbycat

    @STEEL> “There is no sane defense for continued spending at the edges of the metro while the center continues to rot.”
    Maybe from your perspective but I challenge you to find enough families that are willing to put their child’s future at risk for the long shot of improving the schools in Buffalo. Let’s have a couple hundred suburban families move near Bailey and Kensington where there were two or three shootings and a couple deaths this weekend. This is where poverty is concentrated, and this is where crime and family dysfunction are at their highest.
    Let’s say you do have a couple dozen or maybe even a large concentration of suburban families that want to move in. What will it take? Better homes and infrastructure? Better policing? Higher property values and assurance that they will stay high? In other words, you are asking for gentrification of a predominantly minority area of the city. We’ve seen the criticism that this has drawn in other cities like Chicago and Washington, DC. It doesn’t fix the issue it just shifts it to a different area, maybe the suburbs instead of the city like they are experiencing in DC. Is the solution to make the rest of the city like the Elmwood Village with insanely inflated property values to keep lower incomes away?
    Will the poor ever have any responsibility for where they are in life? Why is it the suburbanites responsibility to fix the chronic dysfunction of the poor city residents? What are they supposed to do to keep kids from welfare families in school? What are they supposed to do to stop the cycle of welfare kids and single moms with kids from five different dads? What are they supposed to do to change the urban hip-hop gang culture that is the center of life in so much of our city?
    Tell me Mr. Steel, what is the suburbanite supposed to do just by moving to the city.

  • bobbycat

    @BurchJP> Nice comment.

  • bobbycat

    @STEEL> “Fewer people with 3 times more infrastructure is an insane policy.”
    This is not a policy it is a result of real people making rational decisions about their future based on their means.

  • omonahan

    Bobbycat has it right. It is a result of people making individually rational decisions. Just like the tragedy of the commmons.

  • tom.wonderful

    I never realized until this post and comments what an angry and kinda anti Buffalo person Steel is.

  • Bigboy

    {deleted- flaming}

  • omonahan

    Umm, confuse causation and correlation much?
    You seem to think a bunch of middle class people band together and say – let’s tax ourselves at a real high rate so poor people who can’t pay these high rates won’t move into the neighborhood. It’s more like similar socio-economic populations follow one another to cities/suburbs/towns/villages and, once the municipality experiences property value increases, tax rates follow. The whole birds of a feather thing, really.

  • STEEL

    Lets have one school system. If Amherst schools are so good lets give them an oportunity to educate city schools. It is not any one group’s repsonsibility to solve solcial problems. It is everyone’s responsibility but currently we can cros a political boundary and obsolve ourselves of that responsibility. Seems pretty silly for a metro area with a shrinking population to keep adding infrastructure in an effort to outrun the inner city problems. Cheektowaga -shrinking, Tonawanda-shrinking, Lackawanna -shrinking. Hamburg-shrinking. WHere does it stop?

  • STEEL

    They can stop fighting regional initiatives.

  • STEEL

    no, high taxes keeps the whole region mired in a decasdes long stagnant economy with declining population and non existent job growth.

  • tesla

    Steel doesn’t live here does he?

  • WeatherManFrank

    hopefully! seriously. hopefully!

  • WeatherManFrank

    there is insufficient parking for artspace residents. just behind the post office (@ 19 northampton) is a sizeable lot that, although it was partially repaved with blacktop and striping thanks to funds designated to the artspace project, that is solely for use by the employees and visitors to the two clinics in the long building that comprises 1235 through 1241 main. artspace residents face having their vehicles TOWED (a $150 retrieval bill) if they should attempt to park thereat! that’s what you obviously do not know.