The Preservation Board is being asked to weigh in on plans to demolish an historic Allentown building. Owner Nicholas Castine’s Franken Holdings LLC is seeking to demolish 529 Franklin Street. The circa-1870 building was designed by F.W. Caulkins. Two engineers hired by the owner have deemed the structure unsafe and determined the only viable option is demolition. A financial analysis of a potential rehab of the building was also deemed to be financially infeasible, losing $24,596 per year for 30 years, even with Preservation Tax Credits.
The owner provided a timeline in the Preservation Board Application:
- 529 Franklin Street is owned by Nicholas J. Castine through his single-ownership LLC, Franken Holdings. The property was purchased as part of a parcel that was non-divisible from Sinatra and Co. on December 23rd, 2019.
- Mr. Kevin Gould from the City of Buffalo Dept. of Permit and Inspection along with Councilman Mitchell Nowakowski began contacting Mr. Castine in February 2020 about rehabilitating the structure as there were valid concerns about the structural integrity of the property. There have been several correspondences citing violations between the City of Buffalo and Mr. Castine throughout fiscal year 2020 and into fiscal year 2021.
- Due to the violations and need for repair, Mr. Castine undertook the initiative to begin due diligence on the property to assess possible resolutions to the violations and the need for repair. Such possible actions were to sell the property outright to another buyer, to explore the rehabilitation and rental of the structure, as well as demolishing the property entirely.
- Engineering, structural, and architectural assessments were sought and received back from Silvestri Architects (Engineer Gregory Tomsic) as well as Petrilli Structural & Consulting Engineering, P.C. – the findings were such that at least 60% of the property was structurally insolvent and needed to be imminently demoed for liability and safety reasons. Regardless of level of rehabilitation, the amount of money needed to shore up the property would be substantial.
- Through Mr. Castine’s real estate agents, two possible buyers were found for the property. Both toured the property several times and performed their own due diligence assessments. Both buyers declined to buy the property on grounds that the structure as it stands was financially insolvent and that the halfway house next door would depress the value of rental income.
- One of the potential buyers, Mr. Sciandra, did a very detailed cost assessment for rehabilitation and restoration of the property. Using those budget numbers as a guide, Mr. Castine’s own assessments show further financial insolvency for the property given an estimated deficit of $25k per year
From the City’s Building-Structure Inventory Form:
Two-story Italianate style. Gable roof. Foliate design in vergeboard. Paired scroll brackets and dentils inside eaves. Gable has fishscale shingles, paired flat headed windows with round arch and keystone and dentils. Wood paneling between gable and second floor. Corner scroll brackets under front gable. Segmental arched single light double hung windows in first floor and second floor. Semi-elliptical arched doorway with wood paneled double doors and transom.
Front porch has squared columns in sets of three, spindle balustrade, and foliate relief carving in pediment over steps and in side eaves.
Typical Italianate Style house which has a stucco finish to give impression of stone. The original owner was a Mrs. C. Loomis and a Lewis lived there in 1884. On the site of Poinsett Barracks.