Jul 24, 2013

Hamlin Park Historic District Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

The Hamlin Park Historic District on Buffalo’s east side has been officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was listed on the NY State Register of Historic Places in May and was then sent to National Park Services with a positive recommendation for listing. The nomination was completed by Preservation Studios on a pro-bono basis with a grant from the Preservation League of NY and a matching grant from the City of Buffalo to cover material and production costs.

International Fair Ad 1888 (Front)
Brochure from 1888 advertising the Industrial and Agricultural Expo that was located in Hamlin Park

Hamlin Park is Buffalo’s only east side historic district and now has all three levels of designation: local, state, and national. The local listing came in the late 1990s to ensure that inappropriate alterations were not being made to the historic homes in the neighborhood. While the local designation provided the power at the city level to protect the neighborhood, it did not include the tax credit incentives that the State and National listing has brought.

If you want to stay up to date with events in the neighborhood, community meetings, residential and commercial properties for sale, and lots of historic information soon to be forthcoming, go like the Hamlin Park Historic District on Facebook, by clicking here.

Out of the nearly 1600 properties within the district boundaries, approximately 1370 of them are contributing structures, while only 190 are non-contributing as a result of integrity loss, significant alterations, loss of feeling/character, etc. That means there are now close to 1400 east side residents that can utilize the state and federal historic tax credit program.

Blaine Avenue

If you own a contributing home in the district you can get a 20% tax credit for the approved work you do to the home. It basically includes anything related to the house itself including roof replacement, HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems, restoration of architectural features, windows, etc. There are three requirements to enroll in the program: the rehab cost must be at least $5000, 5% of that must be spent on the exterior ($250), and home must be a contributing structure. Here is the official application, which is very straightforward. 

Here is an example of the benefit. Let's say you have to replace your roof, want to restore your porch details, and need a new furnace and the total cost is $15,000. The homeowner credit is 20% of the rehab expenses, which in this case yields a $3000 tax credit, which is applied to your state income tax for the year the project is completed. If your state income tax is less than $3000, the credit covers the taxes and the difference is paid back to you in a refund.

Brunswick Boulevard I

Even better news, if you own an income producing property like renting a double or an industrial/commercial building, you are eligible for a 40% tax credit on rehab work. Just like the homeowner credit, 20% comes from the state and the other 20% comes from the federal government. If you're keeping track, that means almost half of your rehab expenses are pretty much covered.

Beverly Road II

People are already investing thousands into their properties with the new tax credit incentives and commercial property owners are considering expensive and historically appropriate renovations to raise the profile of the properties and attract more than just the student population; they’re going for doctors and professionals given the reasonable pricing in the neighborhood and the proximity to Metro Rail for commuting to the medical campus downtown.

Now that Hamlin Park is officially listed on the National Register, I’ll be taking the nomination that my company, Preservation Studios created and breaking it into several series on the history of Hamlin Park. Keep an eye out for the new series starting soon and like the Hamlin Park Historic District on Facebook to stay up to date on the neighborhood happenings!

Jul 23, 2013

First Public Meeting for Former Deaconess Site to be Held This Week

The Deaconess Hospital site has been completely cleared and the new housing development, Deaconess Heights is slated to take its place, but the Erie County Community Action Organization is looking for public input first. Members of the community are invited to the first public meeting the CAO is hosting for the reuse of the site. The meeting takes place this Thursday, July 25th from 5pm to 7pm at St. Martin de Porress Church, 555 Northampton Street (goolge map).


Deaconess Heights could include up to seventy-five, low to moderate incoming housing units. Preliminary plans call for extensive landscaping throughout the development, plenty of outdoor gathering space for residents, and home designs that fit with the historic aesthetic of the neighboring community.


Preliminary plans for the site will be presented at the meeting and representatives from the CAO will be on hand to answer questions. Additionally, the development team for the project will be present to hear public comment. Information on the CAO Housing Improvement and Resource Program (HIRP), to assist neighborhood residents with home energy audits and housing renovations, will also be presented as well.

Those wishing to attend should RSVP by calling the CAO at 881-5150, ext. 4410

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Jul 19, 2013

Organic Farm Initiative Aims to Bring Microgreens to Buffalo in a Revived East Side Factory

A lot of great start-up organizations and businesses have been utilizing the Indiegogo or Kickstarter platform lately. It’s a huge boost for many of the innovative start-ups that are popping up all over the city. The Foundry successfully raised their $30,000 goal to purchase the building they currently occupy and expand their programming.

Now here is another great group of people who are utilizing these start-up websites to bring an innovative and unique business to Buffalo. East Buffalo Organics (EBO) have taken over a 13,000 square foot warehouse building on Stone Street, just off Broadway and Bailey Avenue. Their mission is to transform an old factory building into an indoor, organic super-farm and introduce super-healthy microgreens to Buffalo at very reasonable prices.

Their Kickstarter campaign can be found here and explains their goals in-depth. As their Kickstarter site explains, “With all of the factors we find in the world today, good food is getting increasingly difficult to find and afford.  From mega-corporations altering DNA to the increasing fuel costs of transportation, we are finding fresh, inexpensive, organic food less and less on the dinner tables of the world.

One report indicates that today 85% of all food consumed in the US contains genetically engineered ingredients. Genetically engineered food and organics alike are becoming increasingly expensive to ship.  Estimates predict the cost of food to rise by 22% over the next 5 years. 

Something has to be done.

The problem exists in two parts. What do we grow, and how do we grow it locally, anywhere in the world. The solution we here at East Buffalo Organics have devised, and humbly request your support with, is a three-part solution to the two problem question.

During winter in northern climates, protection from the elements is a must, so space will be at a premium.  What must be grown has to be very nutritious, yet full of flavor, offer a variety of texture and taste, while being relatively uniform in growing procedure, and able to be grown in a small area when necessary, so it has to be very dense.

After years of research we have discovered the perfect produce for such an endeavor…Microgreens.

In a nutshell, microgreens are standard vegetables with the unique property that they are harvested at only 2 weeks old. At this point the nutrition stored in the seed is flushed throughout the plant, stockpiling it with nutrients. Combined with the phytochemicals produced from the first set of leaves, microgreens are absolutely loaded with nutrients.  A University of Maryland study from October of 2012, the first of its kind, showed a universal increase in the nutrient content of microgreens over their adult counterparts, some varieties having 2,500% to 4,000% more nutrients.”

If you haven’t followed that link already, you really should in order to get the full idea of what EBO is trying to accomplish and how you can help. You can also check out their official website by clicking here. This is a great initiative from every angle you look at it. EBO is trying to bring healthy and incredible food to the Buffalo market, while also reviving a shuttered historic building, AND best of all they’re doing it on the east side.

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