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Snappy Answers to Smart Questions

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“Everyone claims to want a city, but no one here wants city living. City living by its definition is crowded. It is tolerant of other people. It is dependent on a sophisticated population that makes a hundred compromises daily so that they can benefit from the collective energy that a city generates.” –Robert N. Davis, Jr., May 4, 2004

We know you were secretly thinking these thoughts. Come on, don’t deny it. Here are the answers you’ve been longing for.
Question: Why are preservationists always in reactive mode rather than proactive? We hear from you only when a demolition is threatened. Where were you before things reached this stage? Why aren’t preservationists buying up these buildings if you care about them so much?
Answer: The simple answer is that we weren’t fighting for building X because we were occupied with buildings A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I and J, and didn’t find out until everyone else did that building X was suddenly on the executioner’s block. This is the “too many fires, not enough hydrants” syndrome. Every day someone brings to our attention another threatened property, without bringing us the people and resources to protect it. Buffalo has thousands of worthy and at-risk buildings and acres of intact turn-of-the-century neighborhoods that less authentic, more “modern” cities would kill for.


We are mostly volunteers with no dedicated funding who do activism on top of our day jobs. We do not have access to every building in town in order to inspect and spot problems before they threaten structural integrity. That is the job of building inspectors, and it is the job of citizens to report violations. We do not have eyes on every street or into the plans of every property owner.
The more complicated answer is that what we hope to accomplish in addition to saving buildings A, B, C, etc., is a change in the cultural consensus. Right now, the consensus, or default position, is to build new in farmfields and as a consequence destroy old in cities. A nationally interconnected system of lenders, builders, zoning codes, tax codes, economic incentives, land owners, and public officials collectively operate an efficient machine whose product is sprawl. What we’re fighting in Buffalo is not just the effects of economic collapse and depopulation, as damaging as these have been. We are also fighting the Siamese twins of suburban sprawl and urban abandonment, to the extent that we can take bites out of such a colossal beast with our small teeth.
Every time we block a pointless demolition and a supposedly “too far gone” structure is returned to glorious life, the cultural consensus shifts a little. Everytime we help establish a new historic district in Buffalo and property values rise, the cultural consensus shifts a little. Every time our tours and lectures focus attention on our architectural riches and why they matter, the cultural consensus shifts a little. Every time we form a restoration corporation, as was done with Central Terminal, the cultural consensus shifts a little. Every time we champion urban, pedestrian integrity over suburban automobile incursions, the cultural consensus shifts a little. And every time the cultural consensus shifts a little, someone is inspired to restore a vulnerable building or buy an old house so that it doesn’t end up in a demolition battle.
Nevertheless, in the absence of this new and better cultural consensus, namely that demolition is as traumatic as amputation and should likewise be as rare, criticizing preservationists for being reactive instead of proactive is like criticizing ambulance crews for always responding to accidents instead of preventing them. Accidents can and should be prevented, and we go about preventing them with the involvement of all kinds of professionals, from engineers to day care providers. We don’t blame EMTs. We have a nationally interconnected system–a cultural consensus–whose product is safety. Preservationists dream of a new cultural consensus, one in which it is taken for granted that old buildings and neighborhoods are assets, not liabilities, just as we take it for granted that safety is good and not bad.
So, if preservationists love these old buildings so much, why don’t we buy them? Actually, we do to the extent that as individuals we personally purchase and rehab. But times are tough and funds are few. We’d like a healthy bank balance as much as the next 501(C)(3), but in these tough times, we console ourselves that there’s nothing as effective as a big donor for corrupting a small organization. We do not have endowments because our work tends to piss off those who profit from the present consensus. Our work tends to piss off those who relentlessly “develop” our irrepleaceable heritage into shovel ready sites. Our work tends to piss off those we sue. Our work tends to piss off those who believe that old is worthless and new means improved.
But we continue to agitate for a change in the cultural consensus. We are no different that those who work for any other social good. When you advocate for jobs or health care, no one snaps at you to pay everyone’s wages or doctor bills if you’re so hung up on these things.
We have seen again and again that preservation is the most successful economic development Buffalo has seen in the last 30 or so years. It is a social good in the same way that jobs and health care are. Everyone benefits when old buildings are reused rather than sent to the landfill, even Buffalo’s most wrong-headed, repeat-offender “developers.” When we have a new cultural consensus about the value of preserving Buffalo’s built environment, from bankers to government officials to homeowners, we won’t need so many reactive preservationists.

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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  • Amen, Cynthia, good stuff!

  • Had my friend Scott Field not taken previous owner Bernie Tuchman up on his offer to sell him the Central Terminal for $1 and the assumption of back taxes back in 1997, the building would surely have been beyond repair now. Imagine how daunting a task it is to suddenly own a 523,000 sq. ft. monster you now have to maintain and restore, with no immediate help in sight.
    Say what you will about the building’s location and prospects for the near future, I’ve heard it all, but without Scott and the monumental efforts made by the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation he helped form, the city of Buffalo would have by now had a gigantic eyesore to tear down. At a price tag of nearly $2 million.

  • Mark Williams

    Mike Miller,
    Oewithout a doubt, you are the same Mike Miller who is the one, true advocate and positive sounding board for the Central Terminal.
    I beg to differ on your accolades placed upon Scott Field. My impression of him is based on his self-proclamation of securing the Central Terminal when in reality; the owner was probably more than pleased to unload the white elephant after having stripped it of all of its artifacts and subsequent value.
    The same holds true on his taking credit for Ani DiFrancosi restoration work on the Asbury-Delaware Church.
    A tad narcissistic for my taste but men, in general, seem to be afflicted by this condition in various forms.
    I am swaying away from the topic of this discussion and I apologize but I needed to make a statement about this gentleman, though, I will admit, he is a vast improvement on his predecessor.
    As for residing within the City of Buffalo; I am guilty of not putting my money where my mouth is but I suspect that I am not the only reader of this blog guilty of this fact.
    In my own defense; the cost of renovating a City of Buffalo home is not just so much daunting but beyond my reach financially and to my understanding, there is no assistance program for gainfully employed white males. Otherwise, I would have relocated to Buffalo fifteen-years ago when I purchased my home which, incidentally, is a circa 1935 former summer cottage.
    I have gone so far as suggesting a co-op with friends but was met with expressions of incredulity, only to be asked by these same friends a year later if I was still going to pursue the idea!
    My personal choice would be buying and renovating 19 Coe Place but again, a circa 1891 house that has stood vacant and probably vandalized for how many years and I would assume in need of a total rehab? How does one person, with good intentions, take on such a project without actually living on the premises for security reasons?
    Yes, I believe in Buffalo but from a financial aspect, I simply could not afford to renovate another house on my own accord.

  • Thanks for the kind words, Mark. Obviously, I don’t agree with your assessments of Scott and my peers at the terminal, having worked shoulder to shoulder with them for the past 3 years, but we are all entitled to our opinions.
    I’d just like to add that any group that is in the public eye as much as we are, can be the subject of criticism when new ideas are not met with as positive a response or speed of action as the submitter may have liked, but volunteer resources are tight and the focus must remain on the job at hand. The role of the preservationist is to preserve, first and foremost. Sometimes, that just takes up all the available time we have.
    I am in the same situation as Mark. I’m not able to personally invest in the city of Buffalo in terms of purchasing a home. Some day, I hope to, though. So, my investment comes in terms of devoting much of my free time to help preserve and protect our great city. I’ve come to find out that it’s not always popular, but I sincerely feel that it needs to be done.

  • STEEL

    Mark
    Here is how you do it. Move into the city. Not all of Buffalo’s houses need renovation and there are many affordable neighborhoods in which all or most of the buildings are in good shape needing nothing but regular maintenance. By moving into the city you create demand. Demand is what will eventually return the to health. Do your part be increasing demand for the city and decreasing demand for sprawl.

  • Note to Mark Williams: Scott Field, who took title to Central Terminal, and Scot Fisher, who works for Righteous Babe, are not the same person!

  • PS – I’m sure that Tuchman was relieved beyond belief to rid himself of the terminal and its problems, but he did not strip it, Tom Telesco did.

  • barkenhoff

    God… I had hoped this was satire… Obviously not. You BANANAS really are absolutely bananas. Why don’t you exert all yor self-righteous energy somewhere useful? Say perhaps focusing on the need of people who have greater concerns than gussying up a house with stained glass windows and period woodwork?
    Cultural consenus? More frightening than Orwell.

  • Although I do not always see the point in saving some building in Buffalo, I respect your intentions, and defer to your knowledge in what must be saved. Too many objections to what preservationists want to accomplish are simply knee – jerk reactions from people who feel that your actions are obstructing progress. If it is worth saving, you gotta do it. We lost a lot in the name of progress, and I would like to make sure we don’t go down that path again

  • STEEL

    Bark,
    There is nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in this story that says
    Build
    Absolutely
    Nothing
    Near
    Anything..
    So why do you bring that mentality into this discussion? ? ? That is a false argument.

  • So I’m an idiot. Would someone PLEASE explain the term “Banana”?
    Other than a food that I am violently allergic to…

  • Would you have us do nothing to save these buildings? What about the Central Terminal? Would you let it continue to sit there and decay and just wait for the city to come up with $20 million to demolish it? What do you think that does for the health and well-being of the people in the neighborhood?
    Yes, there are many serious people issues that need to be addressed. There are people out there who are far better equipped (although just as few in numbers as preservationists) to address these issues than I.
    I’m sorry that you feel that saving Buffalo’s classic architecture is bananas, but I’m glad that there are those of us out there that don’t.

  • BANANARAMA

    Build
    Absolutely
    Nothing
    Anywhere
    Near
    Anything
    BANANA

  • I love the banana thing. Both sides have valid points. And as long as both sides have the best interests of the city in mind, it’s all right with me. In the immortal words of George Carlin, “There are no two ways about it, there are two sides to every story”.

  • It’s hard to say what constitutes the best interests of the city. I don’t presume to be that smart. But, when you’re faced with a situation such as replacing an historic and healthy urban block with a Walgreen’s, that’s pretty much a no-brainer for me.
    It’s the same story for me with those structures, like the Central Terminal, whose fate in this fiscally challenged city would be continued decay. There is no immediate alternative other than to work to preserve.
    Until we get to the point where developers are clamoring over themselves to invest tens of millions into demolitions and rebuilds, the latter situation is the one most prevalent in Buffalo. To do nothing to save them results in serious health and safety issues. We have enough of that to deal with now.

  • Pauldub

    I agree that Walgreens is a no brainer. Likewise the Central Terminal. The big question should be If you tear ir down, what do we lose, and what benefit will the new structure bring to the community?
    NOTE: A vacant lot is not an improvement. Neither is a parking lot as a rule.
    At the same time, I hope that those known as preservationists have some sort of rational criteria they use in determining what is worth saving. Otherwise you are bananas. I have faith in you…

  • martin kemp

    Mark Williams…very well said, three years ago, when I decided to become a “re-pat” i was totally “tally” ho… I saw that the city was turning direction, a little slow, but turning. at that time prices for homes where still rock bottom, so I bought N.Pearl which as most people that know the place was a total re-hab job, I was lucky and was able to stay in Atlanta the first year of work as it was un-livable. In that year we needed a new roof,gutters, siding, plumbing, walls and ceilings. here we are, nearly 3 years later, I still had electricians working yestersay! We have a long way to go yet, at least another year to achieve a finished home, so yes, it is a daunting and wallet crushing job. At times I have gotton so discuraged and depressed as many people I talk to that are doing the same thing say. No job is easy, anything we start opens up the preverbial can of worms and any given job, no matter how small usually doubles or triples the original estimate. It truly is a labour of love and determination. The tally ho part? I bought two more property’s within that first year, so I am doing it 3x’s back to back. Vacation? what the hell is that. ..Dinner at a nice restaurant? as if…
    When done, I will [and am] be proud of what I have done, bringing back to life 3 run down victorians, I guess that will be my legacy for future generations.
    Yet it is work like this that helps bring people back to the city, as each home, one by one, block by block of Buffalo are re-habed, and brought back to life, it shows the world how beautiful it is here and brings others to this city, who then buy a home, re-hab it and help re-claim the city.
    To Steel, easyer said then done, yes there are many finished homes in the city that need minimal work other than personal decorating, but at a price, look at finished homes on say Park or Irving, 300 plus thousand. I have a friend who moved here from Pitsburgh recently onto such a “finished” street and “finished” home, they are living and breathing drywall dust and contractors to get the home back into shape. So even those are not up to snuff all the time. They usually need new bathrooms or kitchen, furnace atc…and if you read the real estate guides as i do, look how streets that 3 years ago my real estate agent said “no way” like West Delevan near Bains, habital homes that will need work are 125 k now and yet 3 years ago could of been had for 45-60 k. There are still many area’s with affordable houseing though, beautiful streets if you squint and have a vision, but it will cost you in the long run, but, i will tell you, it is worth it, with housing stock still at a lower price in many area’s as they are re-claimed not only do you help turn the tides, but realistically you are investing well as you will almost certainly get evey penny back at sale time plus more often then not a hefty chunk of profit [ not that that is the point, but it is comforting to know that as the checks sprout wings and fly out the windows {that need replacing}]
    So Mark, I hope one day you do buy in town, it is worth it!
    [ As to Bark? it’s people like you I rarley respond on this site any more and your type of comments and thinking that keeps Buffalo on the provincial side at the best of times]

  • Eric

    Martin– Yeah that guy’s comments were lame, but do you have to lump us all in with him? That was a broad swipe!
    Thanks to Cynthia Van Ness for her lucid article that shows just how unprovincial we can be.

  • martin kemp

    Eric,… did not mean to lump everyone in at all, just so many people like him around that stump on all the positive things that people are trying to do.

  • Think of Someone Else for a Change

    However, preservationists need to catch up with the need. It’s all well and good to save a building from demolition because its worth saving and has a quality or history to it. I’m all for that. But what about doing something ahead of time before the building is selected for demolition, like making the person or company who owns it accountable? That’s a lot easier than purchasing and can be done with volunteerism, and can be done through a concerted effort, but that seems to elude the preservation groups we have in town.
    All cheer the individuals who work hard on their homes and still have heart for their community. All cheer those individuals who are behind the scenes and still put forth a hearty effort.
    Scot Fisher pushed for success. What if he gave up?
    Tim Teelman espouses preservation values but only jumps aboard the project that provides him with a mirror image and a popular following.
    These two men are worlds apart. One who is there to see the project start, develop, and finished, the other that could be termed a johnny come lately appearing on the scene like “Wonderdog the Preservation Guru.”
    I think that is the main point of contention. The area of focus needs to be directed while the energies of three, four, five (?) preservation groups can be divided out to allow for a multidirectional approach to preservation, a human approach, a respectful approach to all the residents, not just a select few.

  • ddoerr

    I wonder how many projects have been stopped that could have really benefitted this community – that is where I worry. While it is great to see buildings rehabbed, it is oh so costly and time consuming and creates a situation that sometimes has me worried.
    It reminds me of people trying to justify our taxes, but instead of what about the poor people, it is ‘what about the poor buildings’.
    I will agree that a good rehab can up the worth of property considerably, but some of it is out of control. The five buildings on Elmwood – DUMPS! Plain and simple.

  • Note to Barkenhoff:
    The cultural consensus I describe is way less scary than the one we have now, which operates on these articles of faith:
    * Petroleum is infinite and will always be plentiful and cheap
    * Suburbia represents the best possible form of human habitat
    * Apart from safe Yuppie shopping & entertainment zones, cities are not suitable places for decent people
    * Now that we have grocery stores, we no longer need farms, so let’s keep building those McMansions!

  • STEEL

    I am not even sure why preservation is even a controversy. Every single restored building in Buffalo has been a resounding success. The most successful neighborhoods in the city are those that have the most intact historic urban fabric. Almost all of Buffalo’s recent development has been because of hard work by volunteer preservationists. Why do people complain about preservationists doing what they can to save a building (even if it is at the last minute) Why not spend that energy complaining about the people who allow building to rot. Why are they not the focus of anger by people like Barkenhoff.
    There is an obscene amount of space available in Buffalo for new buildings. Preserving Buffalois irreplaceable historic building stock does not have to come at the expense of new buildings. We can do both even if there are minor compromises from both sides at times

  • I’d suggest that there’s one more:
    * What happens in the city does not affect ME in the suburbs

  • I’m starting to regret coining and frequently using the term “BANANA”. It was intended to be a twist on the strain of NIMBY we often find in the city. Unfortunately, many have taken the term and applied it to the preservationist community.
    Someone who is interested in preserving historic buildings and urban spaces is not necessarily a BANANA…it’s kind of like obscenity, you know it when you see it. 🙂

  • JohnINBROOKLINE

    Cynthia,
    I’m wondering if you could compare the Erie County Preservation Coalition to the Landmark Society of Western New York that’s headquartered in Rochester in terms of resources. I’ve visited their offices in a house that they own on South Fitzhugh St in Corn Hill, a neighborhood similiar to Allentown. They seem to have their fingers in a lot of pies as outlined in this attachment :
    http://www.landmarksociety.org/25years.pdf.
    that the Coalition doesn’t seem to have the resources to do. I’m wondering if having 3 preservation organizations in Buffalo, the Coalition, the Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier and the Campaign for a Greater Buffalo splinters resources and confuses the message?

  • Eric

    I also wonder why Buffalo’s perservation movement is not more centralized.

  • barkenhoff

    Look. I’m all for preserving beautiful architecture if it’s feasible, but in this day and age it seems more like a luxury than a necessity. I would rather see all this “preservation” energy go into making sure people living in crumbling old homes on the EastWest side are able to “comfortably” inhabit their homes.
    And I fully support the occasional Walgreen’s, Rite Aid, McWhatever popping up here and there because it serves the local communtiy. I’m sorry, but realistically there is a large segment of the community that cannot afford to shop at Wegman’s or the Lexington Co-op, etc. Besides the steep prices at the Co-op, you have to factor in transportation, time, etc. For a poor single black mother of 3 living a couple blocks back from Richmond Ave., it’s a burden to have to find the change to take the bus, find something to do with the kids, find the time to go to the store, find a way to carry home her groceries, etc.
    Again, I’m not anti-preservation to the extreme, I’m just more concerned with Buffalo’s urban poor population and I think y’all tend to forget about them in these discussions. What’s aesthically pleasing to you may not be practical or at all important to them.
    I don’t live the idea of living in some lily-white pretty little district with nice old buildings to look at, when I know it’s burdensome for those less fortunate than I.
    And this goes to some of the housing preservationists as well. It’s all well and fine to want to preserve the old houses on Richmond and the West Side, but there are economic ramifications to that as well. You drive up the home values, you drive up the rents, you drive up the cost of living, etc. And then the new fancy neighbors begin to complain about the “riff-raff” not keeping up appearances in their homes even though to them it’s a LUXURY. This concept should not be new to anyone here.
    And that’s the bulk sum of my concern. And also ome of the foaming at the mouth lunacy. The Atwater house? Tear it down. Let Pano have his damn parking. When the new hotel opens up, people will be glad for the extra aboveground parking. Because as we all know a lot of the suburbanites won’t go where they can’t park their rangerovers and escalades.
    Central Terminal? By all means preserve this. For the life of me I can’t understand how it came to be in the state it’s been.
    Residential preservation? Simply problematic for all the aforesaid reasons.
    Good day.

  • STEEL

    Bark
    Your post does not make sense. Keep the slums slummy so that poor people can live there? HUH? Why is it the sole responsibility of the city to provide run down neighborhoods for poor people. Why do you not rail against the fact that Amherst and Orchard Park are not providing neighborhoods affordable to the poor? Housing the poor has nothing to do with preservation. Asking owners to keep up their buildings to a reasonable standard should not even be a question poor or rich. It should just be.
    Now that you bring up the Atwater house I think I now understand your real purpose for posting. I am quite sure that Pano does not have the poor residents of the east side in mind as he plans his new parking venue. Lets keep the issue clear. This is not a rich v poor issue.

  • gabe

    Steel has a good point. Buffalo has no inherent responsibility for providing housing for the region’s poor. No more or less responsibility than any other municipality in the area should have.
    Also just because a neighborhood is poor doesn’t neccessasily means it has to look like crap. One could find many low-middle class neighborhoods wide modestly-maintained houses and tidy lawns.
    However, in some neighborhoods when we see a late-model Ford Expedition parked in the driveway of a house that hasn’t seen a fresh coat of paint in 10 years, we know there is a serious imbalance of priorities.

  • Pauldub

    Bark. I see your point, but it doesn’t quite match. The money going into fixing up these places is not at the expense of those living in crumbling houses. If you want to pound on someone, go for absentee landlords that don’t give a damn about their properties, or those who live there. Fine them and earmark the monies for that area.

  • Either Use Canned Turnips Or…

    Here is a piece that unites Berk’s social activism and the Preservationist’s cause through a short bio of Frank Lloyd Wright, among our local darlings. Ironically, it leads one to believe that FLW would probably not be much of a preservationist himself.

  • Pauldub

    Absolutely fascinating article. I think it should be mandatory reading for all. I admit I know little about the man, but this was a real eye opener!

  • Bark, I agree with your views on assisting the low-income homeowner, especially in areas where gentrification leads to their demise. That’s why we held Preservation Blues (see, I bit).
    The cost of repair for homes in preservation districts can be higher depending on the type of repair. (ex: wood 10′ column with 10″ base – Doric style and no fluting is approximately $520 while it’s fiberglass counterpart that is waterproof, can be painted, and is as esthetically pleasing to the eye, but not on preservation standards can be $300 LESS IN COST)
    As well, I recently had a conversation with a preservationist. In it I suggested that a property tax freeze be allowed for the lower income homeowner in preservation districts. Most of these folks owned their homes before the districts were created. The preservationist stated there was a tax scale created for abatement depending on repair costs. My reply was “If they can afford to repair”.
    Although I have been told numerous times by preservationists that the standard of repair for preservation districts do not increase the cost to the homeowner, I was able to speak to a number of folks that make their living in either architecture or contracting during Pres Blues. The consesus? Yeah, it inevitably costs more for repairs to preservation district homes. Maybe not to many who recently purchased them in the past 10-20 years, but to those who have owned their homes much longer and have had the preservation district and standards placed upon their shoulders.
    We should demand gentrification regarding quality-of-life issues such as drugs and other crimes – not for the homeowner who initially developed and created the neighborhood.
    The conceot of balance is needed here. We also need to lift the blinders and see the whole picture.
    Preservation is good and should be practiced, but we need to embrace the folks we may be pushing out of our neighborhoods and assist them in their needs for their homes. That’s where passion for preservation marries compassion. That – is balance.

  • Great article on Wright, by the way. His Usonian concept needs to be reviewed today.

  • Daniel Sack

    Dear Think of someone else…
    You wrote, iTim Teelman [sic] espouses preservation values but only jumps aboard the project that provides him with a mirror image and a popular following.i
    iProvides him with a mirror imagei?? Meaning what exactly?
    Fighting for a historically correct Commercial Slip was a bad thing? Suing to save the buildings at Main and Virginia was a bad thing? Fighting to save the Squire House was wrong? Helping people in North Tonawanda to save Boathouse Park was bad? Speaking out against more parking downtown is wrong? Fine – maybe you want the AM&As building demolished. I do not.
    Tim Tielman has done more than anyone else in Buffalo to see that deserving buildings are preserved. There is no question that the work Tim Tielman has done has made Buffalo a better place.
    You wrote that Fisher and Tielman iare worlds aparti. Yes, Scot Fisher works for millionaire Ani DiFranco and has plenty of resources to save a church for his boss and for Buffalo. That’s great! Tielman has worked on shoestring budgets for years and has saved plenty more.
    You wrote, iBut what about doing something ahead of time before the building is selected for demolition, like making the person or company who owns it accountable.i
    I pay taxes to employ plenty of well paid City employees to see to that. Unfortunately the City has not been up to the job. You expect volunteers to do that? Who? With what resources? With what cooperation from the City that has the authority to do what volunteers cannot.

  • barkenhoff

    Marilyn thank you for responding rationally. I agree with pretty much everything you said, minus the quality of life gentrification depending on how you intend to accomplish such a feat. But I won’t get started on that since this is neither the forum nor the appropriate receptive audience.

  • Sal the mule

    “Fighting for a historically correct Commercial Slip was a bad thing? ”
    Yes @ that one … it’s an absurd waste. Is downtown so worthless that chunks of it can be thrown back into the Lake? Apparently (and sadly) so .

  • Comment for barkenhoff, who wrote:
    “It’s all well and fine to want to preserve the old houses on Richmond and the West Side, but there are economic ramifications to that as well. You drive up the home values, you drive up the rents, you drive up the cost of living, etc.”
    Middle-class homeowners consider it an entitlement that their houses will appreciate and sell for more than they paid for them. Do homeowners in poor neighborhoods not likewise deserve increased equity? The East Side could hardly be more victimized by rising property values than it was by declining ones.
    Given the choice, I think I know what most folks would pick. Lots of East side families lost their life savings, which were tied up in houses that became worthless.

  • I’ve posted my thoughts on preservation on the east side on Broadway Fillmore Alive!:
    http://www.broadwayfillmorealive.org/index.php?subaction=showfull&id=1144243800&archive=&start_from=&ucat=1&

  • barkenhoff

    BIA Mod.: Well the end result of such a process is ghettoization. I hardly think that’s a positive outcome. My point that for renters in these communities and for poor homeowners, metting preservation standards is not a reality. And forcing them out of the community, into ever smaller concentrations of area is the end result.
    I would rather see time and effort put into fixing up the homes of people who cannot afford to do it, as opposed to painstakingly trying to recreate the perfect stainglased windows and wainscotting of some run down unoccupied mansion on Richmond. It’s a question of priorities and putting aesthetics before people should never be where your priorities are.

  • Bark – send me an e-mail – westvillageren@msn.com

  • STEEL

    I really do not understand why anyone would be offended by someone putting in the effort to painstakingly restore a mansion on Richmond Avenue.
    As for the poor being forced into ever smaller more concentrated areas. That is certainly not true. Slum areas of Buffalo have spread through vast sections of the city as disinvestment took hold.

  • MJ Worthington

    1) Interesting Wright article. I studied his “Utopia” as part of my History of Cities class at UB. (a wonderful class) I think although a lot of us appreciate Wright’s artistic abilities, he was not infallible. His later “disposable houses” are one of his ideals that I do not agree with, unless I were to buy some landfill stock 😉 The funny thing about his car/acre based Utopia “Broadacre City” is that the population of the NYC area itself would stretch to Cleveland. I doubt many of us would “work” our acre. We’d pry be more obese than we are now as a society.
    2) I feel everything in life is inertial. Applied to a neighborhood, it is either growing or dieing. If it is growing, a “poorer” owner could sell at a profit and move to another area on th elower side of the rise curve, and theoretically profit again, etc. If I couldn’t care properly for my house, I should expect to have to sell. I don’t see it as a right of mine to let my house rot around me because it is mine. We do live in a society where our actions affect each other. We can see the downside of inertia on the east side. I doubt all of the residents are thankful for the condition/afforability of the area. Is it my right to allow my property to drag everyone elses down just because its mine or I can no longer afford my commitment?
    3)I do not agree with having to spend X times as much on materials when suitible modern materials would fill the bill. I find it as overkill. If made mandatory, funds like “preservation blues” should be in place for people who were there prior to the district being formed
    4)I always thought that every census, the figures should be used to redistribute low cost housing for those below the poverty level. It would be spread throughout the metropolitan area until the median imcome for each locality equalled out. The reduction in the concentration of poor and relocating them near jobs etc could only do good. But I realize its a cold day in hell before the outer rings would allow this to happen. But it would be nice to see how “perfect” all the towns would be at honestly handling the true cost of a society instead of pricing the “undesirable” part of it out and pointing back to the locality saddled with them as failures.