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Wrecking Buffalo: 23 North Coming Down

The preservation, broadcasting, and Allentown communities are mourning the loss of a historic North Street building. The 11,000 sq.ft. Second Empire mansion at 23 North Street is being demolished by owner First Amherst Development after a rear portion of the building collapsed earlier this week from a lightning strike. It was the long-time home of WEBR/WNED-AM and is located within the Allentown Historic Preservation District.


First Amherst Development purchased the property in 2006 and promptly announced plans for a residential project on the site. The mansion and new-build addition were to contain between 35 and 40 apartments. It was envisioned as a follow-up to First Amherst’s pioneering and successful Lofts @ Elk Terminal and Granite Works projects.

Despite the neighborhood’s upward projectile over the past eight years, First Amherst never moved on the project but says it was on the verge of starting it, its first in the city since Granite Works.  A statement released late last night from First Amherst:

“Early Tuesday morning the West side of a moth-balled building we own at 23 North Street, in Buffalo’s Allentown neighborhood, was struck by lightning. Several neighbors informed us they heard a loud clap of thunder and saw a bright flash of lightning at around 3 a.m.

The strike did major structural damage, causing a large section of the roof and third floor to collapse to the ground floor. Despite the heavy rain, our inspection found charred wood from the strike and a gaping hole in that side of the structure.

We immediately conducted an extensive interior and exterior inspection, utilizing an engineer. On Wednesday, we undertook a limited demolition of the compromised walls as a safety precaution.

After a full evaluation, we reached the unfortunate conclusion the building could not be saved. A complete demolition is now underway.

First Amherst purchased the vacant mansion in 2006 with the intention of restoring it to its original beauty as a residential complex, with construction of new apartments, similar to the successful renovation we did at the nearby Granite Works.

We believed 23 North Street had a bright future because of its historic presence and proximity to the emerging Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. As we waited for that housing market to develop, we refined our adaptive reuse plans. We also invested approximately $200,000 to shore up exterior walls, maintain the failing roof and maintain the structure’s security.

In late May, we finalized concept drawings with our architect for a $6 million project to bring the original home back to life as luxury apartments, with additional new-build units, for a total of 25 residences.

Demolition is not the outcome we envisioned. First Amherst has a reputation of salvaging neglected downtown Buffalo structure and building on their history.”

Get Connected: First Amherst Development: 716.839.1400

Written by WCPerspective


Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

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