Dec 14, 2012

(Potentially) Historic Tax Credit Ready: Duffy Silk Mill Co.

I say potentially because this building is currently not a certified historic structure. However, there has been a positive indication that it could potentially be certified as historic. That of course, means the potential of utilizing historic tax credits for qualified rehabilitation work.

DS-7638

The building is located at 1270 Broadway and was built primarily in two periods between 1905 and 1912. The eastern wing of the complex was the first to be built in 1905 followed by the western portion in 1912. The building was expanded multiple times towards the rear of the site from 1913 to 1950 based on city records.

DS-7636

Although the building isn’t as architecturally exciting as something like the Guaranty Building, it was designed by the prominent firm of Esenwein & Johnson. That alone adds a lot to its historic value and significance. Although Esenwein & Johnson designed some industrial buildings, they worked primarily in highly detailed homes and buildings with a focus on Neo-classical and revival style elements. Some other prominent buildings by the firm include Buffalo Museum of Science, Electric Tower, Lafayette High School, and the Pumping Station just to name a few.

DS-7633

The mill is shaped like a “h” and faced entirely in red brick. The building is topped with a simple, but elegant corbelled brick cornice that is present on all elevations. The building varies in its condition, but it is still possible to get the sense of what it was inside and outside. The segmental-arch window openings are very tall, allowing natural light to flood the interior. Unfortunately, it has been quite some time since the inside was bathed in natural light; many of the windows are covered over or replaced with non-transparent materials.

Duffy Silk Historic Interior
Historic Interior photo, date unknown
Duffy Silk Co. built a total of three factories in Buffalo, one of which was also designed by Esenwein & Johnson and still extant at 207 Guildford Street. The company produced a variety of silk goods and later moved into producing nylon products as silk became difficult and costly to acquire. It’s reported that the company produced silk for parachutes during WWII.

The building is currently available for purchase ($57,000) and is just short of 100,000 square feet. According to the listing, the land has been tested and is reported to be toxic free. It is also registered as an Empire Development zone and Federal Development zone. Considering the extremely low purchase price, the availability of tax breaks via the Empire and Federal Development zone designation, and the potential for utilizing historic tax credits, rehabbing the building for residential and/or a commercial tenant could provide a nice return for the right kind of developer.

DS-7630

Below is a brief and estimated budget for rehab that includes an estimated historic tax credit (HTC) benefit if the building can qualify for the program. The price per square foot is based on another building I’ve working on that had similar needs and was of a similar construction. Please note the numbers are just placeholders and estimations on the conservative side.

Square Footage: 97,000
Price per sq. ft. for rehab: $205
Total Project Cost: $19,885,000
Potential HTC: $7,954,000 (20% state, 20% federal)
HTC cash value for syndication: $5,965,000
Project Cost minus HTC cash value: $13,920,000

For additional photos of the building, check out my Flickr page here.


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