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Middlesex Tear Down

The owner of 145 Middlesex Road is seeking to tear down the existing residence and construct a new one.  Chrisanne Grimaldi is working with Albert V. Randaccio Builder Inc. on the project.  The Preservation Board on Thursday will review the demolition permit for the home which was built in 1951 and designed by Melvin Morris.

middlesex3

According to the Preservation Board application filled out by the contractor, the residence is in “fair condition” but has “poor design” and is “an eyesore and neighbors hate it.”

The design for the replacement residence was not provided to the Preservation Board.

The tear-down phenomenon is relatively rare in Buffalo where it is more common to see homes substantially remodeled. Elsewhere, the demolition of old homes to make way for newer, larger ones is so pervasive that many cities and close-in suburbs are struggling with the results. Modest homes, commonly single-story ranches, are replaced with larger homes, typically two-stories. Communities across the country have been tweeking their zoning laws to place height, bulk and setback restrictions on the new builds.

Without design guidelines, the newly built homes are frequently incompatible in height, scale, massing and materials of existing homes (oftentimes described as “McMansions”). Existing residents may decry the craze, complaining about the destruction of old homes and neighborhood character.

middlesex1

But the owner claims support from neighbors for the new build on Middlesex.  From the cover letter dated October 9 and signed by Alan Randaccio, president of Albert V. Randaccio Builder Inc.:

My customer and current owner, Chrisanne Grimaldi, would like to tear down the existing single family home and built a new home on the site that will be much more fitting with the style and integrity and value of the neighborhood.  The current home is disliked by the entire neighborhood because it is not of the same quality, style and design of the rest of this beautiful neighborhood.  They expressed this to Chrisanne as she knows many people in the area.

The new home will be fitting in design, scale and value with the rest of the neighborhood and we look forward to getting started as soon as possible before the weather turns.

The replacement of an existing single-family residential structure with a newly-constructed home can have serious implications to existing neighborhood character.  The most obvious impact of teardowns in existing neighborhoods is the loss of older houses that become “scrape-offs” because they are seen as outdated or too small.  Perhaps even more damaging are the replacements for these demolished homes: massive, out-of-scale new structures that completely ignore the existing character of the neighborhood.

There has been new construction in the immediate neighborhood in recent years.  Four new homes were built along Middlesex Road at Lincoln Parkway on the grounds of the Miller Mansion, sold by Nichols School, split by developer Brad Randaccio, and resold.

A large home was built at the northwest corner of Middlesex  and Meadow roads on the site of an older home (below).

meadow

A new residence is now underway on a previously vacant .45 acre  lot at 136 Middlesex (below).

middlesex6

In a startling tear-down battle in 2008, Sue Ann Simonin received City approvals to demolish a 1940’s ranch at 25-27 Rumsey that she purchased in 2007 for $237,000 and construct a much larger home.  The existing house was demolished and Simonin began construction on the new residence but then sold the property before work was finished to a neighboring property owner for $650,000.  The half-built house was torn down.

Written by WCPerspective

WCPerspective

Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

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  • biniszkiewicz

    I see no justification for government opposing this particular action.

  • biniszkiewicz

    allentwnguy
    With the exception of that one on the corner of Middlesex and Lincoln, the other new builds (three on Middlesex near Lincoln, the one at the corner of Middlesex and Meadow) look good in the flesh to me.

  • townline

    biniszkiewicz Agreed.  Though, I can understand being nervous about what it will be replaced with.

  • bufforward

    Every criticism in this article is all just speculation. She should show her plans for the new build before demolition, sure, but if she wants to go through with it and the plans are good I see no reason why not. It will still need to conform to code. It is not historic. If plans are appropriate, let the owner decide what to do with her home.
    This article leaves me wondering- once the neighbor bought the parcel for $650k (wow by the way) and tore down the half built home, what did they do with it? That scenario raises my eyebrow more than the headline issue.

  • Stateofmind

    “Chrisanne Grimaldi is working with Albert V. Randaccio Builder Inc.” The fact that they have not hired a real architect is enough cause for concern. There is more concern that the neighborhood will get another Amherst-style mcmansion than anything.
    The Jacobs’ home (first pic) is an affront to the neighborhood–talk about a house that all the neighbors hate!!

  • allentwnguy
    if you pay craftsmen a living wage, it is amazing how many you will be able to choose from.  craft and skill have not disappeared; the willingness to pay for them has.

  • greenca

    Unlike most instances common in other cities where the tear-down house is replaced by a larger house that is out of scale with the neighborhood, the present house at 145 Middlesex is the one that is out of scale with the existing neighborhood.  Drive by it (Google street view) and you can see that the nearby houses dwarf this one in size and style.  Who knows what will be rebuilt, but it will likely be at least comparable in size to the other houses nearby.

  • janreimers

    Good Lord, you can’t – on your own property – tear down an eyesore built in 1951 and replace it, without governmental approval.
    How far we have come toward Big Brother.

  • A-BuffaLover

    Stateofmind — Why is it cause for concern?  It’s not like they are just going to build it out of their head?  There are blue prints, which were done by an architect?  Does a new home need to be a custom design for it to be proper?  I looked at his website and I would take any one of those houses….

  • His Majesty

    allentwnguy grad94 Why don’t you simply stay in Allentown? I’m sure the people on Middlesex don’t give two shits what you want.

  • North Park

    allentwnguy grad94 What is a living wage? Probably about 25 an hour take home, remember that any business person will have other expenses to cover such as insurance and overhead so you will pay much more than 25 an hour for their services.  
    When I have repairs done to my old home I try to use craftsman that are going to use similar techniques.  An example would be using a plasterer to repair walls/ceilings rather than replace with drywall.  This is much more expensive, but I believe worth it.  You can still build like they did back in the day, but it is expensive.
    I think that is the main reason people here dislike McMansions.  They are larger than other new homes, but no better quality.  When you look at older homes, you can see the quality differences between middle class and more upper middle class homes, often with very little difference in the size of the home.

  • North Park

    A-BuffaLover Stateofmind Most builder designed homes look like crap, see the last picture above for an example.  Looks like crap (although probably fairly expensive, and certainly very large).  It was probably not designed by an architect.

  • BLoRisin

    townline biniszkiewicz Could it really be any worse than what’s already there?

  • hockeyhips83

    would be cooler to “redevelop” the existing home. but, if they own the property, it’s theirs to do with it what they please, correct?

  • bufguy

    All demolitions come to the Preservation Board just to insure that the property is not listed as a local landmark or is eligible. This was implemented back when Carl Paladino filed for a demo permit on a Friday afternoon for the Harbor Inn and took it down Saturday morning. If the permit office had been required to have the preservation board review it, the demo may have been prevented.
    As for this house, it is not in a preservation district and not locally listed, unless they find it was designed by Mike Brady, that famous architect from the Brady Bunch , the pres board will receive and file, clearing the way for demolition.

  • GotAnyChange

    Tearing down a 3,300 sf, perfectly fine house to build bigger – That’s something I never thought I’d see in this town. Thumbs up.

  • His Majesty

    North Park 
    Taking home $25 per hour after taxes is something like $76,000 per year. I can assure you that a living wage can be achieved with a much lower salary than this.

  • His Majesty

    allentwnguy I’ll speak for the people of Middlesex: they think you’re some bourgeois Allentowner who likes to stick his nose in other people’s affairs.

  • Sabres00

    ITT:  People with no money telling people with money what design is correct, and there can be no deviations.  Also there must be a bike lane that goes directly to the front door, no exceptions.

  • buffalorr

    biniszkiewicz–I thought I’d read that Ott from the Buffalo Sabres had purchased the house at Middlesex and Lincoln paying around 1.4 million? I agree it’s really pretty ugly. Wonder if it’s been put back on the market yet. The other 3 new houses on Middlesex are really nice looking and look like quality builds. I’d gladly live in any of them if I could afford it.

  • greenca

    janreimers
    The same way you can’t build whatever you wish on your property, either.  It’s part of living in a civilized society – what you do with your property affects your neighbor’s property as well; it’s not only about you. It’s very likely this meets all applicable regs, so there’s nothing to worry about Big Brother coming in.

  • townline

    BLoRisin townline biniszkiewicz Definitely.

  • armyof100clowns

    Earlier this year I looked at this place while house hunting. My intention would have been a serious redesign/remodel. Even as a mid century piece it was of inferior design and lay out. Most of the homes from this era were still built well and with care; however, it was in abysmal shape (despite the article’s quote of it being in “fair” condition).
    There are structural issues – the front bedroom (it would be to the far left on the lead in picture) had a drop in the floor of nearly 41/4 inches over the span of approximately 12 feet. There was significant deflection in all second floor rooms. There was evident water damage and rot around some of the fixed windows and the brick veneer was divorcing from the structure.
    Although I liked the property, for the price they were asking, which I found totally laughable for that wreck, the amount of money it would take to renovate/remodel/restore I could not justify so I passed. Having been in the house and having throughly evaluated its integrity I cannot find any fault in the want for demolition.
    Now, I don’t know what they intend to replace this home with, but hopefully Ms. Grimaldi did not break the bank on the purchase and can afford to put something on this property that is grand, site suited, and well built.

  • Are we talking about Middlesex County New Jersey?  The housing style (pictured at the bottom) seems to be spot on…
    sorry.  I just had to…
    This is an investment in the city which will raise property values.  Good luck to the new owners.

  • bufguy

    Lighten up. It is an administrative review to insure the house is no landmarked or eligible.
    Do you complain when you are required to get a permit to put a roof on your house?

  • Dr. Stone
  • buffloonitick

    put one of those Buff-a-love hearts on it…  that’ll fix it…

  • Norwoodian

    If the home has serious structural issues, it might warrant a tear down.  But I think it would be a more interesting project to have an architect design an era appropriate renovation, starting with the replacement of the Home Depot steel front door and the anochronistic arts and crafts ‘updates’.  It also seems unfortunate to toss the entire structure in a landfill.  It is a nice sized home too.  McMansions are so yesterday.

  • Buffalo_Resurrection

    Honestly, with the correct architectural features/adaptations, this house could almost appear to be a Frank Lloyd Wright style home.
    Imagination joined with the correct construction manager/designer and the results could be amazing.
    Plus, a circa 1951 home places the house in the correct time period, albeit, the latter years for a Wright inspired project.

  • armyof100clowns

    Buffalo_Resurrection – further down the thread I mentioned my intentions to do an extensive renovation, and you hit the nail on the head. My preliminary “napkin designs” were a homage to Wright’s Imperial Hotel, albeit on a more modest scale that would compliment the site and neighborhood.
    Honestly, though, the house was in poor shape.

  • armyof100clowns

    Thanks, Doc. If I find the 150 or so photos I took I’ll pick a few the highlight my aforementioned issues.

  • buffalorr

    Dr. Stone–Wow–that’s a very cool looking house IMO with tons of potential. Sold for $88,000 in 2005? That was a steal. Seems like people these days in the market for a luxury home are always looking for more bedrooms than a small hotel has along with a dozen crap holes to go with them. Can’t they hold it for a few extra feet anymore? Zillow is listing it at $560,000 now, about 5 x more than the 2005 price. The owner must have money to burn but it’s hers so nothing left to say.

  • Ivan putski jr

    When living in Central Park we had the Central Park
    Association deny our plans to reconfigure pre-existing space to build a
    mother-in-law’s suite……they lobbied that it was something out of character with
    the stuffy neighborhood because there was potential to reap income by renting
    it out and thus creating a multiple unit living space. Total B.S………..We had to
    go to court to basically get a wall put up in our den and convert a half bath
    to a full bath. I use to think this kind of snobbery was only prevalent in
    the awful new build neighborhoods in the suburbs….with the community pools and
    enforced lawn cutting ordinances….but from my experience the neighborhood
    groups in the city might be actually worse. They try to come off as tolerant
    city living folk when in truth they push their nose in the air when certain
    people don’t meet their expectations and acknowledge the privilege of being
    accepted by their “historic” neighborhood. At least in a gated community you
    know in advance what you’re up against

  • North Park

    Green code will let you do that by right.

  • North Park

    Maybe 18 an hour then. Most skilled craftsman will demand at least 25 however.

  • armyof100clowns

    buffalorr – these pictures do look promising and they are what initially piqued my interest. What the pictures don’t show are poorly installed and cracking tile, floor bulges, water damage, rot, and split and butchered joists. Unfortunate – and insane, because the 2005 purchase price was a steal, yet the investment into the house was purely “cosmetic”. Then, to turn around and ask for such an outrageous price . . . I had to say, “No, thank you.”

  • greenca

    Ivan putski jr
    Doesn’t the Central Park neighborhood have deed restrictions regarding rental property and other things that the CPA enforces?  I think that is what makes it different from most other city neighborhoods.  I agree I wouldn’t want to necessarily live by those rules, however if you buy a house with deed restrictions, you can’t feign surprise if they’re enforced.

  • Michael DiPasquale

    “The current home is disliked by the entire neighborhood because it is not of the same quality, style and design of the rest of this beautiful neighborhood.”
    So, an overstuffed McMansion is now considered “quality” design? And a huge garage with a blank wall facing the street is considered good?
    You’ve got to be kidding. It’s this kind of talk that gives rich people a bad name 🙂

  • allentwnguy
    clunky analogy, but people expect champagne work at ginger ale wages.

  • bufforward

    buffalorr Tyler Myers bought it. I agree it lacks refinement, but I’m sure it seemed plenty nice for a 23 year old who travels at least 6 months a year. You should have seen my apartment at that age….not good.

  • Ivan putski jr

    greenca Ivan putski jr what about the carriage house apartments? Those for some reason are allowed. My friend rented one for a few years a while back. on Parker AVE…….

  • bufguy

    Ivan putski jr There are covenants in  Central Park that forbid that, not something deemed “out of character”. Any improvement that could be used for rental is forbidden as per the covenants. They were well in their right to stop you

  • bufguy

    North Park The Green Code can not supersede covenants put in place prior to the code. These are deed restrictions that “run with the land”

  • bufguy

    Ivan putski jr greenca The carriage house may have been built and permitted before the deed restrictions were in place and the carriage house was grandfathered

  • joeyd

    buffalorr SUXX..to be poor ..eh?

  • ChristineLSloc

    The house is actually hideous. It’s on one of the routes I walk regularly and I have been baffled looking at it from the outside. Every other building in that neighborhood is gorgeous, and then you have this one. You can see through it from one window to the back – there’s no privacy. It’s not as big as the real estate photos would make it seem, at least as far as you can tell from the sidewalk. 
    I’m generally not fond of tear-downs because of the environmental impact – why send a livable house to the landfill? I’m still not fond of it, frankly. Yet I find this article to be rather poorly informed. It’s clear the author didn’t look at the house before writing such a scathing review of the homeowner’s decision.
    I find it really unlikely that other houses on the street are going to become scrape-offs. A brief walk down Middlesex would demonstrate that to the writer. Also, this is the wrong part of town to decry “Massive, out of scale new structures.” You are aware that the rest of this development is pretty much mansions, right?

  • buffalorr

    joeyd—I can imagine it probably does.

  • Ivan putski jr

    bufguy Ivan putski jr My house was built before any of those McMansions were even there…in fact it was one of the first in that area. I have old pictures that show barren pastures all around behind my property…this is pre Lewis Bennett days. And it wasn’t even a committee of neighbors who disapproved…it was one stay at home house wife (who I could name but won’t because I’m better than that…her initials are C.T) who heads up the association and is a complete absolute loser with nothing better to do but enforce her stupid, trivial building code policies along with sending the occasional racist email warnings about area break ins…..she’s an elitist piece of trash.

  • North Park

    bufguy North Park I was unaware that the entire neighborhood has deed restrictions.  Seems crazy.

  • His Majesty North Park
    his majesty must have flunked math.  according to my calculator, 40 hours x 52 weeks x $25 is $52,00.  
    is that excessive?  not if you’re self-employed and have to carry all the overhead of tools, equipment, insurance (liability, health), licenses, vehicle, gas, and so on.  not to mention any student loan debt you may have.
    and that is assuming you can book 40 hours a week worth of jobs & customers.  self-employment is rarely that steady.

  • bufguy

    Ivan putski jr bufguy 
    That’s too bad…I call those people “ninnies’….I do love your neighborhood. A very grand place to live

  • His Majesty

    grad94 No, I did not flunk math. He specifically stated that his idea of a living wage was $25/hour TAKE HOME.

  • His Majesty grad94
    so what? 40 hours x 52 weeks x $25 is still $52,000, not $72,000.

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    Sabres00 
    Yeah, because having money is relevant when it comes to possessing insight.  I’m broke but I have an IQ higher than the rest of the commenters on this site combined (not really, but it’s higher than that of any individual commenter I’m sure).  GFY.  Acquisition of wealth is mostly luck and/or trampling on others.  “Hard work” is a misplaced ethic in my opinion, although some degree of it is needed for societal functionality.  I’m more a “work to live” than “live to work” person myself.  And many of the hardest workers in this society make something approaching minimum wage. 
    Americans in general are pretty dumb, but we sure don’t lack for undeserving plutocrats.  Plenty of poor (or at least poorer) countries in E Europe and Asia that are collectively more intelligent than this Rome-in-twilight country.
    The best commenters on this site may or may not have money.  Doesn’t matter.  Address their points based on the merits of their points and don’t commit the fallacy of making an ad hominem attack–we’d all be better off for it

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    Buffalo_Resurrection 
    Yeah this is probably my favorite house on that street, based solely on comparing exterior designs.  That one massive gray one near (at, in fact, if I recall correctly without consulting google maps) Meadow is pretty sick though as well.

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    ChristineLSloc 
    completely disagree on the exterior aesthetics of this house, although it probably would be better served if it were in the Hollywood Hills or something rather than surrounded by cavernous three-story mansions which do only serve to unfortunately have a “dwarfing” effect on this house

  • texpat

    Matt Marcinkiewicz Buffalo_Resurrection I think the one you are referring to was Dr. Jacob’s house.

  • GotAnyChange

    A normal person would find the other larger homes on the street rather stately and drool worthy And be turned off by this closed off mediocre mid century attempt. I hope the owners build the home of their dreams.

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    GotAnyChange 
    Lincoln/Chapin are generally stately and drool-worthy IMO.  Middlesex and Nottingham evoke something entirely different to me–wrong side of the “tracks” (ie, the 198)

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    GotAnyChange 
    The greater point though is that cost/benefit of living in housing like this in Buffalo is not worth it, from a broader perspective.  I could be rich in a year if I tried.  I’m not going to try–not here, anyway.  In Buffalo I’d rather live in a dollar house and be trumpeted as part of the fake renaissance narrative than be the sort of person who lives in a block where this house is consensus unappealing, as per the article.  Surrounded by morons with money and the ego trip that comes with having it in a city with a 30% poverty rate–no thanks

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    GotAnyChange 
    Richard Florida, in one of his many recapitulations of “The Rise of The Creative Class”, once attempted to quantify the dollar value of maintaining familial ties through early adulthood as opposed to severing them and moving away.  I swear he put it in the six figures annually, although in order for that to make sense we’d have to be using some seriously redefined economic metric (given the amount of people in this country who don’t move away from the place of their upbringing).  I’ll have to research that.  Anyway, my angle is not to marshal his figures as “evidence” for some point I’m attempting to make–my point is to say that behavioral economics/psychology trumps classical economics models, all of which were predicated on the false assumption that the individual human is a rational, necessarily self-interested agent.  That may be true for intelligent psychopaths, but for 999 out of 1,000, it’s not true.  Neuroscience shows the extent for which we are generally wired for social behavior.  US policy since 1980 and probably since WWII has been counterproductive in that regard. 
    Point is, the correlation between net worth and happiness is minuscule if not nonexistent.

  • GotAnyChange

    You are the definition of overeducated. Marxism has been tried many times and failed miserably. Your solution to help flawed man is to give flawed men more power at the top to decide what’s best for flawed man. Insanity.

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    GotAnyChange 
    Overeducated?  Perhaps, but as an autodidact.  I go to the bookstore most days.  I don’t have a college degree.  Initially intended to go to Cornell’s Industrial and Labor Relations school (imagine what a Marxist that could’ve made me!) but I instead stayed back in Buffalo to be a UB philosophy dropout and decidedly anti-Marxist poker player.  I played cards until I had a panic attack which led to several more. 
    I don’t want out-and-out Marxism but I would like to get a whole lot more like Sweden (democratic socialist), or even like Seattle, sooner rather than later.  Mainstream Republican visions are long-term unsustainable for the planet at large and inhumane to the vast majority of its inhabitants on the day-to-day.
    Blanket judgments on people who have wealth in this country are pretty easy to make.  They have something that I would endorse confiscating ASAP

  • GotAnyChange

    And everyone would end up poorer for it, including the poor. At least you’re honest about your intentions.

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    GotAnyChange 
    7 billion all impoverished is more fair (and thus better) than what we currently have.

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    GotAnyChange 
    Anyway, your economic beliefs are based on historical happenstance.  We’re all just rationalizing our own particular psychological predilections, when we aregue about politics.  Rationalizing.  The irrational dog wags the rational tail, always.  Remember that, as for that we will never HaveAnyChange (barring some massive species-transforming breakthrough in genetic engineering)

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    GotAnyChange 
    In other words, despite the attempt at a patronizing “at least you’re honest about your intentions” adieu, rest assured, until I see evidence of intellectual growth on your part, I’ll be all the more dismissive of your own viewpoints.  You have drunk the capitalist Kool-Aid as have most ‘mericans and most of these most are probably lost causes, I’m sorry to say.

  • His Majesty

    grad94 His Majesty You’re a f*cking idiot. He said that one must TAKE HOME $25 per hour to constitute a living wage. Unless they’re not paying any taxes at all, then they would have to earn a lot more than that to TAKE HOME $25/hour. What part of TAKE HOME don’t you understand?

  • His Majesty

    grad94 You know what? I’ll pay champagne wages when the available contractors start acting like professionals. If you show up on time, answer your phone, clean out your voice mail box, get the job done in the time quoted at the price quoted, and not give me any sass mouth, THEN I’ll pay champagne wages. Most contractors are scum of the earth and can’t be trusted to fulfill their obligations. Ask anybody in the buildings/development trade and they’ll tell you this without hesitation.

  • buffalorr

    Matt Marcinkiewicz,-Agree this house does look like something you’d find in the Hollywood Hills. I lived in the Hills for 10 years in the Los Feliz section of Hollywood and that’s the type of house you find there which makes for a really interesting neighborhood. The issue of “McMansion’s is huge in LA as they’ve been popping up all over the city for the past 15 years and look pretty ridiculous. You have a huge house on a small lot overshadowing an older California style bungalow. What makes them look even sillier are the penchant for placing massive Roman columns on the front and Romeo & Juliet type balconies with out of proportion spindles on the second floors of these houses. Parts of LA really look like a bad movie set now. There’s a lot of opposition to them and I think the city is trying to pass new zoning laws that would limit these new builds as far as size in proportion to the lots they sit on.

  • buffalorr

    ChristineLSloc–There are a few homes that can really be called mansions but I think the majority of the houses on Middlesex are actually just spacious upper middle-class housing. They wouldn’t be considered as mansions in most other cities. The homes you find on Buffalo’s Parkways truly are mansions in the classic sense.

  • KevinChristner

    Only in Buffalo would someone object to tearing down a 1950s eye-sore that is totally out of character with what is otherwise an amazing collection of architectural gems.  Perhaps the folks opposing this project should have a discussion with the construction workers who won’t have a job.

  • ChristineLSloc

    buffalorr Fair enough. And after I posted that comment, I realized that some are pretty much double-sized single family houses (if that makes sense). I was thinking primarily the west side of Lincoln north of Delaware Park, and the corner of Nottingham and Lincoln. They seem big and spacious relative to the other properties north of Amherst St., or in the Elmwood Village.
    In any case, this particular house does stick out as being shorter and wider, and a misfit. The outrage of replacing one misfit with another still strikes me as manufactured.

  • ChristineLSloc

    armyof100clowns That’s a condition report I’d expect for a house in any other part of Buffalo. I’m surprised to hear it was in such poor shape. Too bad.

  • buffalorr

    ChristineLSloc–Agee. the Miller Mansion sits at the corner of Nottingham and Lincoln I believe. It may be the largest single family home in the city. I have no objection to the 50’s era house being torn down. I think there’s concern about what might replace it since the plans haven’t been made public as far as I’m aware. I love three of the new builds on Middlesex. The large new gray house on the corner is the only one that has a poor design and looks out of place IMO.

  • biniszkiewicz

    buffalorr
    That corner house, amazingly, came After the three nice ones. You’d think the other three examples would have inspired better design. It was built by a builder (Natale) without any architect, as I understand. Dumb cost cutting move, imo.

  • there should be a lot more focus on the proposed building plans and not so much on this demolition

  • buffalorr

    I don’t really care if it’s torn down or not. Drove by the house this afternoon to see for myself and thought it’s really a pretty good looking house–better than quite a few others in the area. Not much room on the lot for something much bigger unless you swallow up most of the yard which runs along the street since this is on a corner.

  • bufguy

    For everyone’s info, the Preservation Board voted unanimously to “receive and file” the demolition request. This frees the owner to demolish the house.

  • talkinProud

    Wow,  great forum, very interesting and informative. I am the new owner of this property. The architectural style on this home is definitely interesting.  Having previously owned, renovated and published an Alfred Parker Browning home (an actual student of F.L.Wright) in Miami, I am quite familiar with what the architect was trying to achieve. It is unfortunate that with the passage of years, this house was not kept in good repair and would require extensive work just to maintain the structure, as is……… any structural modifications on the home were not carried out by licensed contractors or completed to “code” over the last 30 years. I have not yet submitted my architectural plans because they are being carefully reviewed and revised by myself with the Architectural firm that I have employed.
    Thanks for all your interesting viewpoints

  • talkinProud

    I also have had my contemporary houses published
    http://www.houzz.com/photos/136804/Grimaldi-Residence-Fisher-Island-FL-modern-family-room-miami
    I will try to keep integrity with any design I decide on

  • Michael DiPasquale

    And this is why the Larkin Building was destroyed….people thought it was an “eyesore”.  They said it was ugly and didn’t fit in.
    Our society has a bias that favors cozy, pitched roof houses. They are symbols of class and “home”.

  • Michael DiPasquale

    KevinChristner
    “Only in Buffalo”. Cute, but not true.
    This exact debate about modern houses “fitting” into neighborhoods, and tearing them down is happening all across the country.

  • greenca

    Michael DiPasquale

    True, too many mid century buildings are being demolished because they’re “ugly,” the same reason Art Deco and the beautiful masonry “fussy” buildings were demolished in the 50s-80s, as they were also considered “ugly” by the prevailing tastes of the period.    It was wrong to demolish a lot of those buildings 50 years ago, the same way it is wrong to demolish the 50 year old buildings today based on passing fads and tastes.  However,it appears that this particular building has structural issues where demolition shouldn’t be opposed

  • buffalo cyclist

    GotAnyChange The median European is far wealthier than the median American.  http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/11/nomi-prins-financial-political-system-failed-stability-matters.html
    It’s a myth that American style free market capitalism works better for the average citizen than European social democracy.  Germany, where workers elect half the directors of corporations, exports more than the US, despite its population being 1/4 of the US’s.  
    Median wages in the US are lower than they were thirty years ago.  
    And economic growth has been increasingly benefiting the rich for decades.  
    http://billmoyers.com/2014/09/29/smart-charts-economic-recovery-1-percent/

    The existing US economic model has failed and it’s time to admit its failure.

  • armyof100clowns

    I concur with the strange notion we have that architecture within a generation or two is somehow dated and crappy, but anything older is worthy of preservation. I think the built environment goes through a really dangerous period when it is between 20 (maybe even 15) years old and 50 years. Once it passes the 50 mark it may still be in danger, but people generally are willing to rally for its preservation.
    A lot of folks, I’ve noticed, sing in the choir of preservation, but when it comes to architectural movements or styles they do not like they become strangely silent, or ignorantly vocal about its demise. For example, I don’t dig brutalist architecture; however, I am alarmed how many of these buildings are being abandoned or demolished for newer or friendlier architectural forms. I certainly don’t want a city to look like the spine at UB North, but I think it would be a shame to loose all examples of this form that was so ubiquitous in the 70s.
    In the case of this home, when I was nosing around I had plans that played off its mid century form and added a bit of grandeur in the form of FLW’s Imperial Hotel (the main building which housed the lobby and reception). Unfortunately, as I stated before, suffered from neglect, ill advised modifications, and shoddy baseline construction. These elements in concert proved too costly (along with the outrageous asking price) to justify purchase. Now – if the asking price was maybe $200,000 or if my name were Thurston Howell the 3rd I would have gone forward with what could have been a pretty rad project.
    Based on talkinProud’s post, I think we may be getting ready for a pleasant surprise.

  • htdg3267

    one may think your picture is hideous. Melvin Morris thought different if I looked at you I would want privacy as well. One window looks into the kitchen get your facts straight perhaps you should pay attention to your mirror rather than peering into this house. Perhaps you should know the facts about the new owner ask the other tenant in her building where she has spent months bastardizing her current location

  • htdg3267

    armyof100clowns

  • KarenNeko

    Um…. what about that house across the street…i think its much uglier.

  • htdg3267

    armyof100clowns  as the previous owner of this house i beg to differ from you.   i’m not sure what glasses you had on when you were looking through the house.  there was no water damage for your information nor was the brick veneer divorcing from the structure.  if that were the case, it would have never passed house inspection of which we had no issues.   everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but ignorant people like you should keep your comments to yourself unless you really know what you are talking about.  Besides, we didn’t build the house.   It’s really none of your business whether she broke the bank or not.  The house was priced accordingly.  Maybe you should do some research.

  • foreverbflo

    This would be the ideal location for a Dollar General or Family Dollar or Dollar Tree. 
    Or, now stay with me here….. an oversized parking lot with a Timmy Ho’s satellite location – or La Nova/Subway. Mmmm! 
    Could be profitable – albeit controversial.

  • foreverbflo

    94 Comments? Really? Someone in this string certainly stirred the 
    SH*T Pot. 
    Well – that includes 2 of my comments I suppose. I am as guilty. 
    Dont we all have a Canisius hockey game to watch or a book to read? Or a fish fry to hunt down?

  • htdg3267

    ChristineLSloc  GET A LIFE

  • buffalorr

    foreverbflo–I bet “the help” in that neighborhood would appreciate it.

  • htdg3267

    armyof100clowns  YOU NEED TO GET A LIFE…. I AM THE FORMER OWNER AND IF THE HOUSE HAD THE ISSUES YOU CLAIM, IT WOULDN’T HAVE PASSED FINAL INSPECTION….   AND IT PASSED WITH NO ISSUES

  • Carrotflower

    htdg3267 armyof100clowns No need to shout.

  • Carrotflower

    htdg3267 ChristineLSloc You’ve spent the last six hours trolling and writing in all caps, htdg. Looks like maybe Christine isn’t the one who needs to “get a life” in this scenario.

  • htdg3267 as I real estate professional, I’d like to note that “passing inspection” isn’t a crowning accomplishment. It is a sign of doing the bare minimum. So, congrats!

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    buffalorr 
    Part of me wants to move to LA, live hedonistically for a while and let the biological chips (in terms of continued survival–I’m never having kids) fall where they may.

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    buffalorr 
    You referring to the building that once house Nichols Middle School, then the guy who owned Rick’s Tally-Ho before leaving for the greener (ie lower tax) pastures of Tennessee?

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    buffalorr 
    Are you still in LA/SoCal btw?  A few of your earlier posts regarding the Kensington-Bailey of your upbringing and whatnot made you sound, well, rather old (lol), but more to the point, I think you expressed at least some interest in returning to Central Park area

  • armyof100clowns

    htdg3267 – at no point did I insult the previous owners (you), nor did I say you were responsible for the state of the structure. If you bothered to read what I wrote instead of falling back on an emotional response (which I find interesting since defensiveness is often an indication of embarrassment or guilt) I stated that the house suffered from baseline construction issues in addition to poor modifications and upkeep. At no point did I say you as the seller built the home (obvious since I mentioned the previous sale price) or were responsible for the home’s state at the time I looked. I also did not state that the house was not appropriately priced for what the market could bear – what I did state is that I found the pricing outrageous and misaligned with the reality of the home’s condition, particularly when one considers the bargain purchase price nine years ago. This also played into my comment about the current owner hopefully having money to invest in a beautiful replacement once the current home, sadly, becomes nothing more than memories and rubble in a landfill.
    I admit I am not a professional home builder or remodeler; however, I have worked in the construction field in the past and have several home restorations and remodels under my belt (including gut rehab). The photos and notes I took of the house while walking through (I was there for an hour and 40 minutes) I forwarded to a friend of mine who is a professional GC, who encouraged me to reconsider the purchase of this property based on what he saw. Even my realtor, who would stand to make a healthy commission if I had purchased, expressed concern over the cost to purchase coupled with cost to address the visible issues. At no point in any post did I portray the house as being in a state that would fail final inspection. I do maintain that anyone seeking traditional financing without putting a substantial amount down would have a difficult time with the bank based on these issues.
    Now, I’m not here to debate or have a pissing contest, but you resorted to having an infantile tantrum and base insults. Do you deny that there is significant defection on the second floor? Do you deny that the second floor, particularly that front bedroom, has dipping and slanting – significantly in some spots? Do you deny that there was a large bulge running along the kitchen floor where it sagged to the sides of a main support, causing the tiles to spread apart and upward? Do you deny there was pointing loss in the brick veneer? Do you deny that in the back left (if facing the front of the house) where the downspout was missing that get was evidence of water infiltration and damage to the trim? Finally, do you deny that the house has essentially been on the market since 2010, and that I am not the first to point these things out? Also – if there weren’t these issues, why is the new owner seeking demolition?
    To end this, if you were nosing around for an apology I am sorry that I can not offer one for my opinion and the truth of direct observation; however, I do extend to you my best wishes that you have settled into a new home that you and yours will enjoy for years to come. I also extend my sincere congratulations that you sold this house and (presumably) made a tidy profit. Seriously, peace to you.

  • armyof100clowns

    See my response to your later all caps response. Thanks.

  • buffalorr

    Matt–You can live your life pretty freely if you’re not having kids which I think is a good thing since the world is already way too crowded. My hedonistic days mostly took place in NYC and Chicago where I lived before heading out to LA. I found LA is a tough town to party in since everything closes at 2AM. Chicago’s last call is 4AM weekdays and 5AM weekends. Plus in LA you usually need to drive to find nightlife unless you’re living near Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood or in a loft downtown where a lot’s happening now. If this house on Middlesex was in LA, it would cost you about 1.5 million to buy even if it was in the condition described here on BR. There’s so much money out there from the entertainment industry among others that it’s very common for tear downs like this to happen. The “flats” area of Beverly Hills is one neighborhood where you see houses being bought for several million bucks only to be replaced with something larger.

  • buffalorr

    Matt–I moved back to Buffalo two years ago after having lived in LA for 23 years. You had to rub it in that I might be a little older (lol), I like the term “middle-aged” but yea, I was raised in Buffalo when the city was still pretty much intact and thriving– me growing up specifically in Central Park on the east side of Main St. next to the old CP Plaza site. Ciminelli’s is now doing remediation work there in preparation for 600 new units of housing and 200 units of infill homes on the surrounding streets. It was a great neighborhood at one time before becoming the war zone it is now which is pretty sad for me to see. Despite that, I’m thinking now may be a good time to invest here since once Ciminell’s project is complete it could be the next “hot” area real estate wise. A great location near the Amherst St. subway stop and close to so many colleges. Plus you have one of Buffalo’s best area’s on the other side of Main St. I do know that I missed a lot of opportunities to invest in Buffalo since I ended up moving all around the country which is one thing you should keep in mind before you decide you want to leave. Most other cities are way more expensive and even though you can earn much more it mostly goes to everyday living expenses. In addition to that, Buffalo is so hassle-free as far as traffic and being able to see shows or attend concerts-great quality of life here.

  • smithcm

    The 2 houses referenced in the pictures above never had houses on them.  They were empty lots….

  • buffalorr

    Matt–Yes, that is the Miller Mansion. I read that it’s now owned by a Canadian couple who wanted a place to stay during their visits to Buffalo. A little extravagant to be basically used as their hotel suite but if they have the bucks more power to them.

  • biniszkiewicz

    buffalorr
    Maybe they’re simply divesting their portfolio and see Buffalo real estate as seriously under valued. If they are accustomed to Toronto real estate prices and they can afford to take a flyer here and there, they might figure they’ll earn back all their upkeep and then some when they sell in 5 or 10 years. In the meanwhile, they get use of the fanciest house in town.

  • buffalorr

    bini–Just as tear downs are now starting in Buffalo ( Middlesex, Le Brun Rd.) perhaps international buyers are also now recognizing the value of Buffalo’s real estate and as you say holding in their portfolios for future sale at a nice profit. Quite similar to the jet set buyers snapping up real estate in Manhattan such as in the recently opened One 57th St.

  • Victor Kovacs

    How convenient that the new owner took a poll of her friends in the neighborhood and by some miracle they all agreed with her. What are the odds? As for it being “out of place” there is another Melvin Morris modern home design book-ending the same side of the block at the corner of Dana Rd and Bedford. There are actually quite a few homes that don’t fit the cookie cutter look Ms Grimaldi is seeking. Perhaps she is confusing this architecturally diverse neighborhood with some suburban development in East Amherst or Clarence.

  • Dr. Stone

    Victor Kovacs Another example of a house by Melvin Morris is the home he designed for himself at 303 Nottingham Terrace, across from the History Museum.  I spent some time talking with Mr. Morris many years ago when we were both at the estate sale across from his house, at the Leonard Adams Studio of the Musical Arts, now the Reinstein Center (that was an experience – Leonard Adams was one of Buffalo’s great eccentrics – Adams built that house and it originally fronted Elmwood Ave. before the street was reconfigured).  Leonard Adams was a frequent organist at the Larkin Administration Building.

  • Dr. Stone

    Victor Kovacs sorry – should be 309 Nottingham

  • biniszkiewicz

    Victor Kovacs
    What on earth is it to you? How is this any business of yours whatsoever?

  • Victor Kovacs

    I have a number of clients in that neighborhood, my girlfriend owns a home down the street and last time I checked it wasn’t a crime to make observations about someone making a ridiculous statement like “the current home is disliked by the entire neighborhood.” I know firsthand that is a lie. What I would like to know is who died and made you arbiter of what people can and cannot comment on in a public forum?

  • biniszkiewicz

    Victor Kovacs
    I know this house. It’s a nothing burger house to me. I certainly don’t mind seeing it gone. On the other hand, if the owner wished to keep it, I’d have no objection to that, either.
    If this person has $650 large available with which to buy a building lot, then probably this person travels in different circles than either you or me, and likely this person’s friends in the neighborhood are not fond of this mid century smallish (as compared to most of the earlier and later efforts) home. I don’t doubt for a moment that a majority of the neighbors to this home are happy to see something larger and more expensive replace it.
    But regardless, that’s neither here nor there.
    The question is: what business it is of government (or the public at large, in other words) that this house gets demolished for some other house, so long as that new house fits zoning?
    It’s none of your business, and it’s none of mine. It’s a private home. It doesn’t matter if only 1 person out of 100 doesn’t like the existing house. If the one person who owns it wishes to build something different right there, and the new home fits regulations, and if the home scheduled for demolition is not a historic structure, then it is absolutely NONE of anyone else’s business. That includes you, me, your girlfriend, and all the neighbors.

  • Victor Kovacs

    Perhaps if you weren’t so preoccupied with being the busy body know-it-all commentary boss of buffalorising then you would have noticed I did not advocate government intervention in this case nor did I say the private owner of this house couldn’t do with it what she pleased. I found fault with the condescending and misleading public statement issued by her builderon her behalf. So I stand by what I said and ask you again, who are you to tell me whether commenting on a public statement in a public forum is or is not any of my business?

  • biniszkiewicz

    Victor Kovacs
    your initial comment is utterly dismissive of the owner’s claims about the house, and it appeared to me that you were arguing that the justification for demolishing it were unfounded. Glad I was wrong.
    I never suggested you cannot comment. I misinterpreted your comment as opposing demolition, that’s all.

  • Victor Kovacs

    Thanks B. If whoever composed that statement for the builder to sign, I’m assuming it was a delegated task, had avoided broad and misleading generalizations then I would have limited my comment to talking about the original architect, Melvin Morris, and you and I would not have had this misunderstanding.

  • Victor Kovacs

    My girlfriend owns the other Melvin Morris designed home on Dana Rd which I believe was also his home for a short time. Have you ever had the opportunity to go inside 309 Nottingham? I’m also curious to hear what you know of Mr Morris’ work on the Hoyt Lake Casino that, from what I have heard, was much maligned.

  • htdg

    armyof100clowns

  • htdg

    armyof100clowns
    I posted below pics to discredit your nonsense. There is no such issue in the house that you spoke about no floor issues in kitchen. no veneer outside, no defect upstairs in floor. glad you mentioned your not a professional. The house was purchased in 1995 never for sale in 2010 no debate no pissing contest your simple crazy and wrong. want more pics inch by inch dont want to waste any more of my time. new owner wants to tear it down because the   architect she hired told her it would be cheaper to tear down  rather than do all the additions she wanted.
    The facts the truth

  • Carrotflower

    htdg armyof100clowns This article is four months old now. No one cares anymore.

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    htdg armyof100clowns you sound like a delightful human being