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Historic Washington St. Houses Threatened by Allen St. Extension Plans

The Buffalo News reported today that the corporation that runs the Buffalo medical campus between the Fruitbelt and Allentown has acquired four houses on Washington Street for the purposes of demolishing them and extending Allen Street eastward into the medical campus to Ellicott Street. The sloppily reported story claimed "officials" had launched the plan three years ago and that the houses, nos. 945, 941, 933, and 929 Washington St.—as well as, apparently, the vacant lot at 927 Washington, the site of the controversial demolition of the Anna Beck House several years ago—"are directly aligned with what would be an extended Allen Street." That is, in fact, not the case. (Click on photomap below). The houses run south of where an extension of Allen would intersect with Washington, which runs perpendicular to Allen Street.

Allen_ext_map_copy Image to left shows the site. Bottom left is 929 Washington, bottom right is the existing streetscape, photographed from the existing walkway connecting Main Street with Oak Street (Click on the images to enlarge). Building a roadway will require demolishing the current Allen St. transit station and building a new one. Total cost is unknown, although it is reported that $100,000 will be spent on a feasibility study and $6 million on design work and "initial construction." It is unknown what else the money can be used for if the feasibility study proves the roadway infeasible, or even what the objective and public benefit of the project would be, other than to create a another vehicular  "gateway" for the complex, which stretches from Virginia Street north to East North Street, and from Michigan Avenue west to Washington Street. Also unknown is whether the gateway objective could be met with an enhanced pedestrian corridor and the containment or elimination of parking lots, which contribute to the general blight and dehumanizing nature of the streets within the complex, discouraging pedestrian activity and integration into the surrounding neighborhoods.

The Campaign for Greater Buffalo opposes the demolition of these historic houses. It is planning to hold a public meeting and site visit soon. Details to come. Interested in saving these houses and improving the way the medical campus is integrated into Allentown and the Fruit Belt? Call The Campaign at 716-884-3138.


Good News on Cyrus Eidlitz's Webb Building

With his public announcement last week that he has a purchase agreement with Carl Paladino for the historic Webb Building on lower Pearl Street, developer Rocco Termini may perhaps thwart the demolition that Paladino has sought for years, and restore a great building on what is a unique streetscape in Buffalo and perhaps the nation. The Webb, at 90-92 Pearl Street is perhaps the finest, and one of the last, examples in the city of the Richardsonian Romanesque applied to commercial buildings. It is also the last remaining Buffalo work by the prominent New York City architect Cyrus L.W. Eidlitz. Termini hopes to convert it to a mixed use building, with ground floor commercial and upper floor residential space. He must first repair the damage Paladino wrought, and the city turned a blind eye to, by allowing rainwater to flow through the building for years.

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Character of charming Coe Place threatened as Belmont Shelter seeks demo of Ward House

Coe Place is one of Buffalo’s distinctive but overlooked streets. Only one block long, it is lined by tall and narrow Victorian houses on 28-foot lots. Together with a narrow street width, the house rows form a quaint, well-defined streetscape unique in the city. The Hamilton Ward House, at 19 Coe Place, has current pride of place as the anchor house on the south side of the street, which runs west to east between Main and Ellicott streets. It was constructed in 1891 by skating rink operator and Coe Place founder George Chadeayne. With an engaged tower extending a full three stories, it is the most distinctive house on a distinctive block.

The Ward House has been vacant for a number of years but is in solid condition. It is threatened with demolition. The Belmont Shelter Corporation bought it at a recent auction for, reportedly, $3,000. It plans to demolish the house, which abuts the corporation’s parking lot.

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