Over the last two days, the preservation community has been scrambling to pursuade the Lackawanna government to stop the demolition on the beautiful Bethlehem Steel Administration Building. We didn’t know it was coming that fast, no one was told and now we are in reaction mode. Most importantly, the demo contract has been given and there is very little we can do to stop this.
The problem is this. If there is a building that can be saved, we are either reacting to something else being demolished or we are so overwhelmed with other preservation issues that we cannot be proactive as a preservation community. This is not good.
What we need is an Anti Demolition Organization of Buffalo. A group that governments can call on to help market these buildings, to give public outreach and to stop/avoid the most important buildings from being demolished on a Friday afternoon. A group that someone can call for a status update, to express concern and to potentially express interest in purchase! One group.. One phone number.. Simple, easy and to the point.
Right now, if you are interested in a house on the demo list – you would call the city. It would be sorta a headache because you don’t know who to talk to there or what to ask.. BUT what if you could call the demolition task force and say “tell me about this building” and their answers were solved? A group who knows the city processes, who to call to stop demolitions and who to call upon for resources, funding and insurance issues.
Furthermore, what if we could guide them down the best path to purchase it, which would take stress off of the cities hands. The dialogue could be between city and the group, eliminating the stress, headache and annoyances that the potential owner would deal with. Working together would be key and it could be done. I mean, what if a weekly newsletter to talk about buildings that are important and push for marketing the most important ones? Or someone was there to document the success stories that we have? So many ideas are flowing right now…
Seriously, think about it. This could be a small group within PBN or even BYP could take it on. But it would have to be a small, dedicated group that would have to be focused on just that – stopping demolitions and getting these houses back on the tax rolls. We are too often scrambling and being reactive. Once we stop reacting and being proactive, we will be able to save buildings more and have our focus on marketing and getting the vacant properties some love.
There are so many other things that need to be done to control the demolitions.. however, establishing a group that can support and handle these buildings should be the first initiative. Just a thought. Who is up to start something like this??!!!?
Photo courtesy of Meagan Baco, Buffalo’s Young Preservationists