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Allentown Association Continues Efforts to Consolidate District

The Allentown area, known to be Buffalo’s premier historic district, is an ideal place to reside given its historical richness, unique architecture, and cultural and social activities.  However, it can also be a confusing matter at times to own a property there, given the various boundaries that determine a property’s status as within or outside of a certain preservation district.

In an effort to alleviate the confusion and make homeowners within the Allentown area eligible for investment tax credits, the Allentown Association has proposed a project that would consolidate the properties currently separated by the National Register and the City of Buffalo Preservation Board’s boundaries into one Allentown historic preservation district.

“By creating one Allentown National Register and local historic district, homeowners will be able to easily understand the rights, responsibilities, and benefits of owning a historic home,” said Christopher N. Brown, chair of the One Allentown committee and member of the Allentown Association. “With the availability of NYS historic tax credits, we expect significant investment in Allentown properties to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places that previously did not qualify for the tax credits.”

The Allentown Association’s proposal for this project does not identify any drawbacks to this consolidation.  Because the local district is currently larger than the National Register district, with the exception of four structures, the current property owners already have all the responsibilities of owning and maintaining a historic property.  What some of them don’t have, however, are all the benefits associated with owning those structures.

According to Brown, the consolidation of the districts would also make it easier for the Allentown Association to promote the area to potential property-buyers and tourists.  “Once it’s all completed, that will allow the opportunity to create educational brochures and seminars to inform people who want to buy new properties,” he said. Recently, that has been a difficult task with the way that the districts are divided.  “There’s a lot of ‘what ifs,'” Brown added.  “If you live here, you’re in this particular district.  By having uniformity, it will make a good opportunity to make very uniform educational programs.”

Supporters of the project also hope to spread awareness about investing and increase the availability of grants and funding to help maintain the historic structures in Allentown.  Brown noted that the Allentown district is a large tourist destination, both regionally and beyond.  The Association hopes that this consolidation will help people to make more investments in the district, thus making it a more attractive place to visit. 

The Allentown Association recently received a large grant of $9,500 from the Preservation League of New York State to help support a survey that would lead to the district’s expansion.  This would allow for new information to be obtained on economic development and would also position over 1,200 properties for the benefits of New York State residential and commercial tax programs.

While comprehensive costs of the project have not been determined, the Association anticipates that the research and cultural resource survey will cost $16,000 to create One Allentown Historic Preservation District.  The funding for the proposal will come from the Allentown Association’s funds earmarked for historic preservation, along with foundation grants and fundraising. The Association recently held a fundraiser on October 1 to benefit the project.  Thanks to neighborhood associations, they were able to raise over $1,000

For more information on the One
Allentown project or the Allentown Association, visit www.allentown.org or call (716)
881-1024.

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Written by Sarah Maurer

Sarah Maurer

I moved to Buffalo to attend Canisius College in 2007 and began writing for Buffalo Rising as a journalism intern in 2010. Working with Newell and meeting numerous entrepreneurs, activists and everyday folks who were working to make their city better made a huge impact on my decision to stay here. After witnessing all the positive development and grassroots initiatives happening in neighborhoods throughout the city, I was inspired to pursue a term of service in AmeriCorps and a career in Buffalo's non-profit sector. I currently work in the housing department at the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of WNY and am excited to be a part of their ongoing efforts to revitalize the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood. I also volunteer as the project coordinator for Artfarms Buffalo. I continue to write for Buffalo Rising because I love having the opportunity to stay connected to those working toward positive changes for the Queen City.

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