There’s good news for 65 Grant Street, a long troubled building that many thought would never make it into the new year. Against all odds, 65 Grant Street has been given a second chance at life.
I spoke to architect Kathleen Kinan moments ago, who was having a hard time containing her excitement. She told me that a NY Main Street Grant had been secured, which will cover the cost of 20-25% of the project. The funds will be administered by PUSH. Already some work is underway to prevent additional water from entering the building, plus bricks have been cleared from the roof and the “wall-to-wall of hypodermic needles” have been removed from the interior.
Currently the building is on a holding pattern, as the formal rehab process is reviewed by SHPO and other preservation organizations for approval. “I don’t see that being a problem,” said Kinan. “The lag time is giving us a chance to make plans. We have until the end of February to confirm the scope of work that the grant will be funding. It’s a formal process due to the nature of obtaining the grant – multiple bids, etc.”
Kinan told me that this was a very close call. After a small fire in the building, the Fire Commissioner condemned the property. Kinan took a look at the building and didn’t notice serious damage, so she went down to City Hall. “That was in June,” she said. “With the help of lawyer Keri Callocchia, we began to navigate exactly what it would take to save the building. This city has no mothballing programs like other cities, which is very unfortunate. Every one of these buildings represents opportunities for investors, if given time and resources. We were given three weeks to come up with a new owner – someone that could show enough financial assets to make the improvements. We found an investor in Niagara Country. Then we had to do business with the lawyer for the former owner. When the owner found out that he would be on the hook for approximately $150K for demo costs, a deal was struck. The property changed hands in September. Three weeks ago we learned about the grant.”
This was an extremely close call Buffalo. Thankfully, the stars aligned perfectly, thanks to a concerned citizen/architect who happened to own property on the street. Then there’s the work that Keri Callocchia put into orchestrating the deal. But in the end, it was the building that stood the test of time, battling a slumlord to remain standing, the natural elements, and political apathy… against all odds. This is a success story that we can all be proud of, especially at a time when this city continues to lose irreplaceable historic building stock.
This time, we did not end up with a parking lot, and for that reason we can all rejoice.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve done,” Kathy stated. “Merry Christmas Buffalo!”