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(Potentially) Historic Tax Credit Ready: Duffy Silk Mill Co.

I say potentially because
this building is currently not a certified historic structure. However, there
has been a positive indication that it could potentially be certified as historic. That of course, means the potential of utilizing
historic tax credits for qualified rehabilitation work. 

The building is located at 1270 Broadway and was built primarily
in two periods between 1905 and 1912. The eastern wing of the complex was the
first to be built in 1905 followed by the western portion in 1912. The building
was expanded multiple times towards the rear of the site from 1913 to 1950
based on city records.
Although the building isn’t
as architecturally exciting as something like the Guaranty Building, it was
designed by the prominent firm of Esenwein & Johnson. That alone adds a lot
to its historic value and significance. Although Esenwein & Johnson
designed some industrial buildings, they worked primarily in highly detailed homes
and buildings with a focus on Neo-classical and revival style elements. Some
other prominent buildings by the firm include Buffalo Museum of Science, Electric
Tower, Lafayette High School, and the Pumping Station just to name a few.
The mill is shaped like a
“U” and faced entirely in red brick. The building is topped with a simple, but
elegant corbelled brick cornice that is present on all elevations. The building varies in its condition, but it is still
possible to get the sense of what it was inside and outside. The segmental-arch
window openings are very tall, allowing natural light to flood the interior.
Unfortunately, it has been quite some time since the inside was bathed in
natural light; many of the windows are covered over or replaced with
non-transparent materials.

Duffy Silk Co. built a total
of three factories in Buffalo, one of which was also designed by Esenwein &
Johnson and still extant at 207 Guildford Street. The company produced a
variety of silk goods and later moved into producing nylon products as silk
became difficult and costly to acquire. It’s reported that the company produced
silk for parachutes during WWII.
The building is currently available for purchase ($57,000) and is just short of 100,000 square feet.
According to the listing, the land has been tested and is reported to be toxic
free. It is also registered as an Empire Development zone and Federal
Development zone. Considering the extremely low purchase price, the
availability of tax breaks via the Empire and Federal Development zone designation,
and the potential for utilizing historic tax credits, rehabbing the building
for residential and/or a commercial tenant could provide a nice return for the
right kind of developer.
Below is a brief and
estimated budget for rehab that includes an estimated historic tax credit (HTC)
benefit if the building can qualify for the program. The price per square foot
is based on another building I’ve working on that had similar needs and was of a
similar construction. Please note the numbers are just placeholders and
estimations on the conservative side.
Square Footage: 97,000
Price per sq. ft. for rehab:
Total Project Cost:
Potential HTC: $7,954,000
(20% state, 20% federal)
HTC cash value for
syndication: $5,965,000
Project Cost minus HTC cash value: $13,920,000

For additional photos of the building, check out my Flickr page here.

Duffy Silk Historic Interior

Written by David Steele

David Steele

Architect ( a real one, not just the armchair type), author of "Buffalo, Architecture in the American Forgotten Land" ( ), lover of great spaces, hater of sprawl and waste,
advocate for a better way of doing things.

View All Articles by David Steele
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