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The Heart Bomb 2013

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.”
The Heart Bomb-Buffalo-NY-2.jpg
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.”
Buffalo's Young Preservationists (BYP).jpg
*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
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 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.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is ‘queenseyes’ – Eyes of the Queen City and 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. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter.

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  • jpp

    I noticed that the HSBC Tower was heart-bombed as well – in red lights! That’s the best one!

  • rheumpa

    What a great effort to bring love and attention to these properties! Thank you BYP!

  • pampiniform

    I remember they did this last year. Are any of the places they “heartbombed” last year inhabited or repaired? Or is this just another relatively easy way to feel like you’re doing something about the problem while not doing anything at all?

  • Mike Puma

    If you were to perhaps, read the post it would answer your question. “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.”
    We are actively marketing these properties to developers and people in preservation and housing as a means to saving them

  • grad94

    which seems like more than actual real estate professionals are doing. here we have all these buildings that need aggressive matchmaking between buyers and sellers, and real estate agents are where, exactly?
    since they are licensed to actually sell stuff, they could single-handedly change the conversation about preservation in buffalo by helping deliver vulnerable properties into capable hands and maybe earn a living at it, too, which is more than you can say for the folks pictured above.
    but like code inspection and enforcement, unpaid, unlicensed volunteers have to take the heat when it doesn’t occur.

  • rpm40

    Realtors can’t do much unless the owners are both interested and in a position to sell (and not to mention willing to pay someone to do it), which in many instances isn’t the case.
    I’m glad to hear things are coming along at 1469 Niagara street. I drive past it every day now on my way to work, and it’s always caught my eye as a nice choice for rehab.

  • grad94

    i guess i don’t get it.
    “Realtors can’t do much unless the owners are both interested and in a position to sell (and not to mention willing to pay someone to do it), which in many instances isn’t the case.”
    so now unlicensed volunteers have to do realtors’ jobs, too.
    why don’t real estate agents use their sales skills to persuade owners to sell? i mean, seriously, isn’t sales their job? its time for the real estate community to step up to the plate and apply its expertise and entrepreneurial energy to the vacant building problem.

  • Martha Red

    BYP: Don’t let the negative comments of these people deter you. This is great!

  • allentownbs

    how do I learn about these properties? Show up to meetings? would love to own a house w/ original character – seems very few are on the market – and even fewer for less than $200,000

  • RaChaCha

    Veni, vidi, bombi.

  • tonydiamond

    Where were all the preservationists when the historical landmark called The Mohawk Place closed?

  • Up and coming

    I would have to agree with Travelrrr on this one.

  • tonydiamond

    So because the building wasn’t in danger of being knocked down and the circumstances don’t fit your criteria we can’t preserve it? Regardless of what the situation is or was, preservation is about more than empty buildings that should be knocked down. It’s about history, which is odd, seems like you’d know that already.

  • Travelrrr

    Tony: a lot of people, preservationists included, were very saddened by the shuttering of MP. However, for BYP to protest the closing of a music venue–which was indeed great–would be off mission.
    However, you do touch on a point on which many preservationists don’t even agree: that the effort to preserve interior spaces–which might reflect a certain era, movement, etc.–is as critical as saving building exteriors.

  • whatever

    Yes tony, business owners are free to decide on beginning & ending their ventures for many different reasons – even a historic business like that which dated way back to… the ’90s was it?
    Similarly, except for landmarks or pres districts (which I’m not sure but don’t think Mohawk was in), owners are also generally free to decide on beginning & ending their buildings via construction & demo.
    So in that way there’s a bit of similarity in the concepts as you said, although ‘preserving’ a business sounds even more difficult to do using activism.

  • buffalofalling

    Maybe instead of symbolically stating the obvious… that there are abandoned properties in the city, these young preservationists with plenty of time on their hands should instead put thier money where their collective mouth is and get a mortgage, buy the property, pay the very high insurance costs for a distessed property, rehab it with thousands upon thousands of dollars so that they’ve invested more than its worth and then they can realize why those properties are vacant. It’s called economics where supply is far outstripping demand. Maybe getting some cash from your trust fund or a friendly investor willing to lose money will allow you to trumpet some accomplishment but it won’t overcome economic reality. It’ll only make a normative argument that this is the right thing to do rather. Most people don’t see normative arguments as the reason to buy a home. Th
    Heart boming to raise awareness is just self-serving because there was market pressure for these homes, this wouldn’t be necessary.
    Youth is a wonderful thing, but it is blind and naive.

  • LouisTully

    Or the City could do its job…

  • Jim

    Do you actually know whether the two houses purchased and rehabbed were done so because of the heart bombs?

  • Mike Puma

    Normally I wouldn’t bother responding because I doubt I’ll change your mind, but here goes. We all have FULL TIME jobs, every last one of us. We work on these projects and initiatives after work and on our weekends.
    Most of us are involved in more than just our job and BYP, preservation is a 24/7 lifestyle for us. Two people in the group have formed a development company and are in the process of rehabbing half a dozen properties with historic preservation and energy efficiency in mind. Another couple is rehabbing a west side home together. I have a historic east side home under contract with the intention to rehab it and bring it back to its former glory.
    We are doing the job of many people who are sleeping at the wheel, all while putting our money where our mouths are, working full time, and donating our time and talents to buildings and homeowners in need.
    Maybe get off the internet and stop being an armchair critic and come out and help. I’m not afraid to stand by what I say and have my real name attached to it, but apparently you don’t even have the courage to use your real name when you comment here.

  • Up and coming

    Much respect goes out to you and yours. People like you and the company you are keep are the reason why Buffalo is known as the City of good neighbors. Keep up the good work, and I wish you the best of luck.


    Your wildly uninformed comment makes you look foolish. Why would you assert something about people who you don’t know and know nothing about?

  • Up and coming

    There’s probably a lot of people on here who are guilty of the same thing. You and me included big boy.

  • benfranklin

    I didn’t read anything that was ‘pro-slumlord’.
    You recently posted your disappointment that plywood was being used on the old Donovan building, that hardly makes you anti-development, does it?

  • brownteeth

    At least a half dozen of the BYP’ers in the photos already own properties that they are rehabbing. I’m on my third one to date and some own multiple properties throughout the city. So if anything we took time out of working on our homes to give some attention to others that need help. On top of all of our professional day jobs too. You may want to research these things before making ignorant comments.

  • LouisTully

    And I bet you play ball like a girl!


    I read constant complaints from the same people about preservationists and their activities. The complaints are generally uninformed drivel. These same complainers never offer a complaint about a property owner who allows his property to rot to the point of demolition. I would call that pro slumlord.

  • benfranklin

    I see two dissenting comments from two people, over the course of a few days. (I’m not sure any disinterested third party would label these posts ‘complaints’.) In most online discourse, this would be considered a win for your side.
    …I imagine I’m about to be labeled pro-slumlord, please resist, take your victory graciously.

  • benfranklin

    I don’t hear the constant whine, because I don’t listen for it. Picking a fight where none appears to exist would seem counter productive. When you’re out numbered, gray is a preferable color to black and white. It makes counting more difficult.
    The best salesman often use an ‘assumptive close’. Assume victory, and it’s often yours. Assume the worst, and that is undoubtedly what you’ll get.

  • JSmith

    Here is the whine, only a few comments lower on this post:

  • jim1234664

    Im also in the pictures / a byp member and own 8 units on the west side that im rehabbing.
    I would bet that more than half the byp’ers in the photos own property in the city and most of the others are in some stage of aquiring their own.
    And even if they arent, not everyone has the know how or financial ability to rehab a house. That doesn’t mean they cant be a part of byp or the solution to our city’s vacant housing problem.
    By the way, the free market is no where near 100% efficient. Just recently a byp member tracked down an owner of a property that had ordered it demolished and negotiated a sale. That property would be gone by the end of the month otherwise. Plenty of properties fall through the cracks in this and myriad other ways.

  • whatever

    True about that whine, js, but is that type of personalized thing bf wrote really a ‘constant whine’ on here?
    There’s a big difference between what bf wrote which called out activists as individuals vs. what I think is more commonly argued on here – just that if and when a building has no evident person or group willing to proactively be its long term savior (Methodist church in North Buff, Riverside Men’s, etc, etc – pretty much anything in the Wrecking Buffalo series), then reasonably its fate often will be demo.
    It’s the difference between saying complainers about any building’s demo should shut up vs. saying their complaints should be ignored by govt in favor of letting supply/demand decide which buildings are/aren’t saved.

  • brownteeth

    Apparently by some people’s logic you can’t back a cause if you aren’t directly contributing. So all those people raising awareness for Cancer, AIDS, blood drives, etc are doing it for a feel good pat on the back because they’re not doctors or patients or donors. So why bother I guess?

  • RPreskop

    I was glad to see that old apartment building on Niagara Street to be targeted by these young preservationists. That building unfortunately suffered a fire on its top floor in one of the apartments where there was a vicious argument between boyfriend and girlfriend which resulted in the angered, apparently drugged up boyfriend torching the apartment and fleeing the scene so the locals say. This building should be rehabilitated and reoccupied very soon so to stop deterioration from sinking its damaging teeth even further. Also the perspective landlords should never rent to section 8 applicants because they are destructive and unstable.