Sometimes it seems that an ‘in-peril’ building is saved just in the nick of time. At least, that’s what we always hope for. Many people thought that that would be the case for 324 North Oak Street, which we featured back in January of 2021. The building was listed along with a number of other historic beauties as part of the proposed Genesee Gateway Preservation District Expansion.
It turns out that 324 North Oak Street, part of the portfolio of buildings that Legacy Development and Withrow South Capital Corp. purchased from Bruce Adler in May of 2020 for $2.7 million, could not hold out any longer. As emergency stabilization plans were being drafted, there was a partial, yet very significant, collapse. While this is unfortunate news, especially at a time when the future of the building was starting to look bright, it sounds as if the owner is committed to saving whatever might be salvageable.
From the Genesee Gateway Preservation District Expansion article:
The building at 324 North Oak Street is historically affiliated with the George Urban Rolling Mill, which represented an advancement in rolling mill technology at the time it was built. While the rear, five-story portion of the building was demolished in the late nineteenth century, the portion that remains functions as a three-story commercial building The building is a good example of the adaptation of the Italianate style for commercial/industrial buildings. The first floor is divided into four bays by cast-iron columns with foliate caps and paneled faces, and the upper floors are divided into three bays by brick piers. Details such as segmental-arched windows, round-arched windows, and brick corbeling at the top of the primary elevation attest to the significance of the building and its appropriation of the Italianate style.
A couple of months ago, we were celebrating the news that a retail pioneer was making her way downtown, to 103 Genesee Street (next door to 324 North Oak Street – at the corner). At the time, Keelin Burke was set to be an anchor for the Legacy Development/Character: A Property Company portfolio of buildings that were being salvaged along the Genesee Gateway. At that point, it looked as if everything was finally looking up for these structures that had been subjected to so much disinvestment over the years. While this looks like a significant setback for this corner as a whole, hopefully there is a light at the end of the tunnel, so that we aren’t faced with another gap-tooth lot on the block.
It wasn’t that long ago that we saw the collapse and ensuing demolition of 435 Ellicott Street, right around the corner. It’s incredible to think that the Genesee Gateway has witnessed so many incredible preservation successes over the last few years, only to see a handful of historic assets bite the dust. Let’s hope that the owners of 324 North Oak Street can successfully salvage what remains, while a city stands back and looks in the mirror again, measuring its worth, and wondering what its future beholds (as it relates to its past).