Apr 24, 2012

Four East Side Homes to be Rehabbed, Not Demolished

More often than not, homes owned by the City of Buffalo find their way to the landfill for a number of different reasons. It could be because a new owner could not be found, the house was beyond repair, or someone at City Hall was particularly demo-happy one week. Unfortunately, the loss of urban fabric is just a part of what happens when a city shrinks dramatically.
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Two family home at 144 Glenwood Avenue
However, plenty of these homes and buildings have been landfilled because of the lack of a strategic demolition plan from the City. Thankfully every once in a while there is good news when rather than demolition, the City sells homes for rehabilitation to qualified development groups

Four homes that are slated for rehabilitation include 11 Holland Place, 144 Glenwood Avenue, 291 Northampton Street, and 77 Dodge Street. These buildings are all mostly solid to start off with, but still require investment to become livable once again. I’m a firm believer that every building tells a story and each of these homes I’m sure is no exception. I did some research into 11 Holland Place last year and turned up some interesting information.
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11 Holland Place
The first time 11 Holland Place appears listed is in the 1894 Buffalo City Directory with residents Jacob Bott, Dr. William J. Bott, and Rodney Daniels. Jacob was a house and sign painter while William worked as a clerk with the Buffalo Water Department. While a building permit for the house was not found it is likely that the Bott family built the house.

The Bott family and other people continued to live at the house until about 1914 when John J. Steffan bought the home for his family. Steffan worked as a bookkeeper at M. Steffan’s Sons Inc., a leather goods store established in 1851 which is still in operation at 761 Main Street in downtown Buffalo. The Steffan family lived in the house until about 1955/1956 and the house remained vacant until 1957 when Warner Merritt purchased the home and lived there until 1961.

From then on the house bounced between different owners, ultimately ending up belonging to the City of Buffalo after the most recent owners, Dana Upcher and Venere Hutchinson, were arrested in Tennessee for outstanding Housing Court warrants. David Torke of fixBuffalo has been highlighting this house for years in hopes of get a proper owner to rehab the building.
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291 Northampton Street
It’s so rare for homes to be rehabilitated rather than demolished due to the startling price difference in rehab vs. demo. Using 11 Holland as an example, it would cost the average person about $30,000 to $40,000 for a full rehab while doing much of the work themselves. The cost for the City to demolish the structure would be around $20,000, but the cost to rehab is almost ten times that amount. Due to bidding the rehab work as prevailing wage jobs and a whole host of other reasons, the price for rehab is exponentially greater than the cost of demolition.
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77 Dodge Street
11 Holland Place is sure to be the fastest seller of the four when all the work is complete because of its great location in Midtown. There has been an incredible amount of investment in the surrounding neighborhood including Artspace Lofts, The Packard Lofts, reinvestment on Coe Place, and the recent rehabilitation of St. Vincent’s Orphanage one street over on Ellicott.

To see more photos including some interior shots click here or view them as a slideshow here.


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