Often times, people associate the revitalization of Buffalo with the big guns – the Medical Campus, Larkinville, etc. Yes, those are incredibly important when considering the city’s rebirth. At the same time, it’s the individual efforts that are being made by Joe Citizen that are the driving the daily growth in our neighborhoods. Street by street, individuals are tackling house renovations, fixing up historic structures that were subjected to architectural atrocities over the years. I’m talking about people like Eric Heffler, an M&T Bank finance guy who decided many years ago that he would purchase and rehab a number of houses that were in need of tender loving care. “I don’t do flips,” Eric told me. “I renovate these houses fully. At this point I’m working on my sixth house in the city.”
The house that Eric is referring to is located at 108 Park Street in Allentown. When he first got a hold of the house during foreclosure, he didn’t realize how bad the condition actually was. A pile of terrible renovations had been conducted on the house, each one contributing to the overall damage that almost seemed irreversible. “I loved the look of the house,” said Eric. “To tell you the truth, tearing it down and rebuilding, instead of fixing it up, would have been cheaper and easier. Instead, I got my team in here over the course of a year, to replicate as much of the historic nature of the house that we could. Now the neighbors are coming out of the woodwork to thank me.”
During the course of the renovation, Eric (who acted as the GM for the project) made sure that custom woodwork was cut to match the original architectural design elements. Custom moldings were fabricated, wood floors were restored, the staircase banister was taken down and rebuilt, layers of paint were scraped off woodwork, butchered trim and door frame rollbacks were hand hewn and replaced… just about every aspect of the interior was reworked.
Instead of fixing up the old, dark, dysfunctional kitchen, Eric decided to open it up to create a vista from the dining room all the way to the backyard. He expanded the windows, floor to ceiling, creating a breathtaking, naturally lit kitchen expanse that manages to blend seamlessly with the house’s historic feel. Custom built window seats were added, as were new pantry cabinets. The end result is, as Eric put it, “Over the top.”
“Originally I was intending on renovating this house for my family,” Eric pointed out. “Then we found out that our family was growing again. That means that essentially we did even more work than we ever intended, leading to a high end renovation that is absolutely remarkable. We had to be extremely creative with this one, not only to bring back the historic luster, but to mesh a modern sensibility into the project. The one drawback is that there is no offstreet parking, but I am including a parking space (lease for ten years with option to renew) at another one of my properties nearby. Since the house is so close to the Medical Campus and the Metro Rail, I figure that the owner can park a car in the satellite driveway for longer term durations. Walk to work on a daily basis, and use the car when going grocery shopping or heading out on vacation. It’s a creative solution to the lack of off street parking – I’m willing to get creative to find a way to make the new owner happy.”
Park Street is one of my favorite streets in all of Buffalo. The architecture is absolutely stunning. The narrow street, with tall trees and historic lamp standards makes for a very quaint setting. Plus, the house is within short walking distance to myriad shops, restaurants and parks. The refurbishing of homes such as this is what is making Buffalo truly great. There is a quality housing shortage in the city, to be sure. The more individual efforts made along these lines, the better off this city will be.
To see the listing, click here. The house is being listed through Robert Blake – RobertBlake@therobertblaketeam.com. The impeccable house staging was done by Andrea LaMacchia at Envision Design 716-819-8049. An open house is scheduled for this Sunday (June 26) from 1pm to 3pm, if there is not an accepted offer before then.