As Buffalo continues to grow, we are going to start seeing more of these types of preservation controversies arise. The one that is on the table currently involves a house located at 647 Lafayette Avenue. The current owners intend to demolish the structure in order to build a new, larger home. Neighbors are raising a stink about this particular development – they feel that the loss of the house would be a detriment to the neighborhood and would set a precedent for others to do the same. The current home owners are saying that they are not able to work within the confines of the existing structure. Outraged neighbors are calling their bluff.
The plight of the historic 5,000 square foot home is attracting a lot of attention. The pending action has drawn together residents of the Elmwood Village, Preservation Buffalo Niagara, and Buffalo’s Young Preservationists. These groups intend on fighting the action, by stating that the house contributes to the Elmwood East Historic District in its current historic state.
“If every home in the Elmwood Village that needed work was fair game for demolition, before long the neighborhood we know and love would no longer exist,” said Lancaster Avenue Block Club President Gretchen Cercone. “Neighbors and city leaders must take immediate action to halt the demolition plans for this house and to put safeguards in place so these historic homes are protected.”
Concerned neighbors are pointing to the September 1st Preservation Board meeting, where the architect for the home owners said that the house has “good bones” and no foundation issues. The issues that could possibly contribute to the building’s demise include “the placement of the center staircase, a poorly constructed addition, and cosmetic issues.”
The Preservation Board voted unanimously against demolition of this home, but the board’s decision is only advisory. The owners are proceeding with their plans despite community opposition and the board’s vote.
“Residents of the Elmwood Village have worked hard to see this neighborhood become the largest National Register Historic District in New York State,” said Preservation Buffalo Niagara’s Executive Director Jessie Fisher. “Preservation Buffalo Niagara stands with the community as they work to ensure that the appropriate laws and protections are in place to ensure that its unique charm and character endures for future generations.”
In order to fight for what they feel is right, a community meeting is being held on Saturday, September 10 at 3:00pm at the Crane Library. The meeting will also cover additional concerns that the Elmwood Village is more vulnerable than ever, not only from these types of losses, but from larger developments as well. The meeting is set to take place days before the plans for 647 Lafayette Avenue are to be submitted to the Planning Board.