If you can’t sell it, send it to a landfill. That appears to be the thinking of Nancy Singh. She put the building up for sale in January along with 72 Sycamore Street for $349,900. On Thursday, she is asking the Preservation Board for approval to demolish 68 Sycamore, a structure deemed eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
Nancy Singh’s 68-72 Sycamore LLC purchased both properties in 2015 for $160,000. A fire later damaged the structure. Singh may have a demo contractor on speed dial, she also demolished the Royal Pheasant property on Forest Avenue in early 2014.
From a Siracuse Engineers Structural Conditions Report in July 2016:
On-site observation of the east, south, and west walls revealed these walls to be in poor condition. The exterior of the north wall was not accessible and could not be observed. At the roof level, parapets along the southern portion of both the east and west walls were found to be leaning outward from the building. The west corner of the south wall has settled significantly, with the westernmost windows at both the first and second floors badly skewed. A large vertical crack was observed in this area, extending along the windows for most of the height of the building.
Note that the unstable condition of the parapets along both the east and west exterior walls presents a hazard to public safety. Both parapets should be removed as quickly as possible.
At all three walls observed, extensive damage in the form of open mortar joints and deteriorated brick was noted to the exterior brickwork and exposed sections of the stone foundation walls. At most window openings along the east and west walls, the arched openings exhibit significant cracking and movement.
Large portions of the interior wall and ceiling finishes were gone as a result of the fire and the fire-fighting efforts, enabling observation of the roof, second floor, and ceiling framing for the first and second floors. Most of the roof and floor framing observed to have light charring, but appeared to be in other-•wise good condition. The ceiling framing at both the first and second floor’s was found to be in poor condition, and had failed in several areas. Similarly, the floor sheathing at both the first and second floors, as well as the roof sheathing, were found to be in poor condition, most likely from the water used in the fire-fighting effort, as well as being exposed to the weather, during the time since the fire. The partial basement was not accessible during the site visit. Therefore, the condition of the first floor framing is unknown.
The report went on to recommend structural repairs to stabilize the building with a $425,000 to $550,000 cost estimate.
From the Building -Structure Inventory Form, 1980
Alarm bells are ringing. From the Michigan-Sycamore Historic District Facebook page:
The owner of the two-story building in this picture – 68 Sycamore – has applied for a demolition permit for this property (despite also having it listed for sale). We believe that these properties should be covered by the demolition moratorium covering Michigan Avenue, and will be working closely with our colleagues at the Michigan Street African American Cultural Heritage Corridor to ensure that no demolition permits are issued at this site.
If you want to help: please call Buffalo Common Council President Darius G. Pridgen at 851-4980. Tell him that as one of the last remaining pre-Civil War buildings in Downtown Buffalo, we cannot afford to lose these buildings. Ask that he works closely with Preservation Buffalo Niagara on their plans to create a local historic district as well as identify responsible new owners for the four vacant properties in this proposed district.
More from the Michigan-Sycamore Historic District:
Architectural Historian and revered preservationist Francis R. Kowsky says the following about these structures: “These buildings cry out to be saved. Even in rundown condition, they are eloquent of the pre-Civil War city that fugitive slaves would have seen when they arrived here on their journey to freedom. They are rare last vestiges of the earliest days of our community, modest Federal style structures we identify with the era of Benjamin Rathbun. Why demolish these authentic buildings when we are spending millions putting up replicas of them at Canalside? Having survived for over 150 years, they must be preserved for future generations.”
The Preservation Board meets at 3 p.m. Thursday in City Hall Room 901.