Many articles in Buffalo Rising’s City section discuss rehabs of existing Buffalo buildings for new reuse purposes or new buildings that will join our city’s landscape. Many commenters focus on these projects as signs of progress in Buffalo. And, indeed, they are the most visible examples of new activity and a new direction. However, confidence and stability in the city of Buffalo can also be measured in less publicized activities and actions such as major home remodeling, streetscape changes and in the return of families with children to some of our neighborhoods. I’m going to write about some examples of these changes in three articles over the next two months. Let me start with major home remodeling.
As I was enjoying the Garden Walk, I noticed some houses that looked much different than they did previously, or were undergoing some changes that were greater in scope than many of the usual roof and porch repairs that are common to a lot of Buffalo houses during the summer. I knew from last year’s Garden Walk that 32 St. John’s Place, a fire gutted eyesore that had remained standing in that condition for a number of years was being restored. That knowledge did not prepare me for the extremely impressive shingle style house that now stands at this address thanks to Buffalo developer Ted Flemming. One can only hope that the restoration projects around the corner from 32 St John’s Place now taking place at 34 Plymouth St. (lead photo) under the purview of Joe Delaney and also at the first house on the left side of Orton Place are just as impressive in their finished appearances.
67 Irving Place has been another lengthy restoration project conducted by a Buffalo ex-pat now living in Colorado. The restoration work, which dramatically changed the exterior of the house, was actually done last year. I noticed the effort during last year’s Garden Walk and found the result as rewarding as 32 St. John’s Place.
67 Irving Place is currently under contract to an engineer from Arizona who is moving to Buffalo for a job change. I’m sure her friends in Arizona have peppered her with all the Buffalo stereotypes as well as asking her if her sanity has been checked (I say that as a person who has heard all that crap in Boston for years). In return, I hope she has mailed pictures of this house and its sale price to all of her Arizona nearest and dearest. 67 Irving Place had a higher asking price originally and the current contract calls for a price in the high $200K range.
While admiring this very appealing restoration, a resident who lives diagonally across the street from it told us about a couple who are physicians at Roswell Park who have become so enamored with their house on Irving, several doors down from Number 67 with an address in the 30’s, that they reviewed numerous photographs of their house at the Historical Society until they found a picture of their house as it originally appeared. They plan to restore this house to its original appearance in the photograph including its gorgeous porch.
64 Hodge St, another Johnson and Son project is a very large white house that is in the process of being converted from a 2 family house into a 1 family house. When I first saw it and the activity going on in it, I thought it was being converted into apartments because of its size. Conversions of multi-family units back into a 1 family house as a rehab goal are starting to get some momentum in Buffalo, particularly in the Linwood to Richmond area.
My final offerings for this piece are five houses on Bryant St. These five houses are clustered at three addresses at the front of 179, 181 and 185 Bryant St. respectively along with two carriage houses behind this trio. Until the beginning of this year, the properties had been owned by Kaleida Health with a plan to have the houses used for small scale medical procedures and administrative grunt work. The Buffalo Land Holding Company bought the houses in January of this year and work on at least two of the houses started late this spring. Peyton Barlow Company, manager of the Granite Works restoration, is performing the same role on this project.
It took some time to get information on the scope, contractors, owners and the goals of the project when construction and rehabbing end. Personally, I’m thrilled that one of the goals of this project is to make over these five houses into single family residences. Until yesterday, I was concerned that medical office space was the future for these dwellings. Updates on this project will be forthcoming in the near future.