When I first started reporting about rehabs in Buffalo, it was done by my driving or walking around city streets. The Garden Walk was a great source and still is. I did my first article about Buffalo rehabs for Buffalo Rising in August of 2007 while I was still living in Boston. I was making my annual summer visit and keyed in on some West Side and Elmwood Village rehabs for the article actually using that year’s Garden Walk map. Unfortunately, the pictures in the article have gone to cyber heaven as have other rehab articles I wrote prior to platform changes dating to 2013. The point is that I’ve been reporting on Buffalo rehabs since then, and now that I have been living here again since 2014, my reporting has expanded to more BRO stories and a Facebook page dedicated to rehabs. I have also been involved with the Facebook Page Preservation Ready Sites.
When I started the Facebook Page Buffalo Rehab and Reuse I relied on information gathered from BRO articles, and articles in the Buffalo News and Business First. I also drove around the city streets looking for rehabs and taking pictures of them when I’ve found them. I almost never encounter homeowners, but when I do, 99.9% of them are satisfied with my answer for why I’m taking pictures of their house. I simply tell them that I have a Facebook page about rehabs in Buffalo and I want to include their houses on the page. Four homeowners have asked me not to take pictures of their houses, and I’ve happily agreed. However, one individual on Auburn Ave threatened to throw a brick through my car window if I took a picture of his house. I happily obliged in that situation too. Some people have suggested to me that he could have been a drug dealer and thought I was surveilling his house.
As time passed, I became friendly with contractors who were doing rehab work, and they have subsequently told me about upcoming projects. Real estate agents that belong to my Facebook page are also sources for the rehab work. Last year, the city put its building permit database online. This has been a great source of leads. My early use of building permit information even led to a Buffalo Rising story. The permit database info has its drawbacks, however. I’ve found that some permits never get used. Other projects don’t start until much later than the date that the permit was issued. I’ve also found that the scope of work is much greater or less than what was described in the permit. Conversely, I’ve taken pictures of rehabs that had no building permit which led to the projects being suspended until a permit was acquired.
In Part 3, I’m going to discuss what I see as clusters of rehabs that are appearing in some city neighborhood.