Genesee Street is on the verge of losing two more commercial buildings. Tatanka Development, owner of 301 and 309 Genesee Street (two and three-story buildings in entry photo), is seeking City approvals to demolish the structures. Jacquelyn Brown will be at the Preservation Board meeting on July 26 (3 PM, room 901 City Hall) presenting their case. According to the Board agenda the "City of Buffalo has cited the owner with several violations due to the deteriorated condition of these buildings and has requested the owner to demolish them. The roofs are collapsed, the interiors of the building is rotted and bricks from the exterior façade are beginning to collapse."
The buildings are located on the south side of Genesee Street between Spruce and Walnut street. While this stretch of Genesee Street has few of its old commercial buildings left, the remaining buildings are architecturally interesting and there's enough left that could become an interesting mixed-use corridor with proper infill and reuse.
Demolition of more buildings along Genesee is also unfortunate since development is slowly pushing east from downtown. There are rumors of new adaptive reuse projects planned along Elm Street and the ready-for-rehab building at 125 Cherry Street nearby is reportedly under contract and will be repurposed. Nearby streets are now lined with hundreds of new homes built over the past twenty years. Downtown, the Theater District and Medical Campus are within walking distance. It's a corridor that's a natural for revitalization.
Steel had this to say two years ago when adjacent 311 Genesee Street was threatened with demolition:
It is a place most never venture to, mainly because it is on the East Side. That would be bad enough but, even worse, this building falls on the wrong side of the suburban auto centric barriers of the Kensington off ramps to the north and the Elm Oak Arterial to the west. With these impediments in place, it is easy to devalue a run-down building such as this and the Near East Side neighborhood it inhabits. But take just a few minutes studying this area and you can see the tremendous potential and importance of this neighborhood and this building to the city's future.
First, this building sits just 4 short blocks from the Genesee Gateway project. That quickly moving restoration project is bringing life back to a row of formerly dilapidated buildings similar to this one--buildings that just a few years ago faced a similar fate as well. Several other recent projects have transformed that downtown edge into an up-and-coming part of the city. 311 Genesee is also about the same short distance from the recently announced location for the massive University of Buffalo Medical School relocation and expansion. 311 Genesee is set in a strip of city street that has had many buildings removed but still has many great examples of historic urban 19th century architecture remaining.
With planning and forward thinking, which uses these valuable and irreplaceable buildings, a compelling urban streetscape could be reborn in this area. But this will not be possible if these buildings continue to be removed year after year. Bit by bit, the city loses its unique history and character in favor of bland suburbanism and emptiness. Buffalo cannot compete with the suburbs on suburban terms. If that is the plan the city is doomed to continued failure. This is one old, forlorn building. It is not a landmark. It is not a masterpiece. It is simply the kind of indigenous historic building that can help rebuild a unique city neighborhood that can attract the kind of people that cities thrive on. Surround downtown with successful neighborhoods and you will create a thriving downtown. This is where you start, with this little building.
Or these little buildings. 311 Genesee was torn down in late August 2009.
Tatanka purchased the vacant lot at 311 Genesee Street in 2010 for $1,600 from the City.