BYP Preservation Speed Dating – Wrap Up & Photos


Monday’s event was a super success! We had over 70 people attend the BYP Preservation Speed Dating event. Our group and the event hit the Buffalo News the next day. We have received several emails and had about 40 new “likes” on our facebook page.

The the wheels are already beginning to turn!

  • Suzanne is now working with Chris Zolokowski to say 595 Fillmore. They are contacting the owner tomorrow!
  • We have an art group email chain that is planning an art event.
  • A photo tour is in the works!
  • A few of our researchers are working on a “research” day to educate interested people on researching buildings!
  • A few of us are working on getting into a dollar house on the West Side that is available.
  • A new website for BYP is in the works.. more to come on that.
  • Trico’s public meeting was attended by several new BYPers and we had a great turn out. (more on that later)

The bigger goal here is to do work and get things done. We want to work with everyone to make Buffalo a better place through preservation, sustainable development and community building.

Here are some photos from the event. If you are interested in helping out in BYP, email us!

BYP Crowd at Sweetness_7 Jason Wilson talks about Trico Save Trico! BYPers.. and Friends!

BYP Presents: Preservation Speed Dating! Monday, March 25th at 6-9pm.

Want to know how to get more involved with BYP?!!??!
Join us – Monday, March 25 – 6-9pm @ Sweetness & on Grant St.

We will be doing a “Speed dating” event where several key leaders of BYP will be giving “quick” short 5 min presentations about current & future initiatives that BYP is working on.
The goal is to “match”  YOUR skills and YOUR passions with the initiatives happening in YOUR community.

We hope you can make it. We need more people active doing cool things to save our grain elevators, historic theaters, churches and more.. and we have a lot of fun doing it! Jason, Dana, Danielle, Chris, Mark, Derek, Puma, myself and so many others will be speaking about things we are doing and things we want to do!

Email us at BYPTEAM@GMAIL.COM with questions.

Monday, March 25th. 6-9pm. Presentations start at 6:30pm! No beer… but lots of great yummy coffee and food to buy!


Trico Local Landmark Public Meeting – Tuesday at 2pm!!! Save Trico!

The day has come! Take off work! Cancel that meeting!
We need YOU to be at City Hall – 13th Floor Common Council chambers at 2pm on Tuesday, March 26th.

The common council legislative committee is hosting one public meeting before they decide on the fate of Trico’s local landmark status.

We need you there to show your support!
Why is this important??? If Trico becomes a local landmark, we will have more say in what happens to Trico (aka – your personal tax dollars). This gives us the right to have an open process about this nationally registered historic building.

Tuesday, March 26th. 2pm. Common Council Chambers.
Bring a friend, a co worker and a relative.



Artvoice Influence Survey: Bernice Radle on Groundwork in Buffalo, NY

Here is my complete write up for the Artvoice influence questionnaire that was sent around to a select 300 people… read below. Let me know what you think!

For this week’s cover story, we polled a number of local folks about positive and negative influences in our region—people, ideas, circumstances. In the days to come, we’ll publish the responses we received in full here.

Here’s what Bernice Radle of Buffalo’s Young Preservationists  has to say: (LINK to article)

1. What people/ideas/circumstances do you consider positive influences in this region?

I see the most positive influences in our region being from the people and local organizations that are on the ground making changes, creating unique space & places and organizing local citizens to take ownership and be a part of rebuilding their community.

A great example of leadership and influence is PUSH Buffalo. They understand that social capital is just as important as financial. Their NetZero home on Winter St. is an exceptional neighborhood centerpiece, one that challenged the traditional design standards often associated with affordable housing. The NetZero house, located within the Green Economic Development Zone has helped to educate thousands of local citizens on energy efficiency, employed hundreds of local people through construction and has inspired many others to invest in the West Side.

For me, there are hundreds of inspirational stories, people and organizations that are pushing forward for our local neighborhoods and residents. These stories are what keep me here, keep me moving forward and make me loveBuffalo! Their involvement is incredibly inspiring and unique and is undoubtedly one of the important driving pieces to the puzzle of success for our region.

2. What people/ideas/circumstances do you consider negative influences in this region?

Often times, many people stand in the way of bright, young talented people who bring new ideas, new energy and new outlook to our region. If we want to keep people here and attract others, we need to give them what they need to encourage them to grow, excel and succeed.

Buffalo no longer competes with the Rochester’s of the world; we are competing on a much larger scale with cities of all sizes. Due to the internet and social media, we actually have the ability to attract people from large and small cities!

Cities like Columbus, Baltimore and Milwaukee get it. They implement higher design standards, add bike lanes, support food trucks and start up businesses, and encourage development of unique spaces and historic buildings. Implementing policies and procedures will attract the young, college educated people who are drivers and leaders in a 21st Century economy. If Buffalo can attract and retain this group of people, we will thrive as this wave of millennials start to become the power players and decision makers.

Personally, I have a lot of ideas when it comes to planning, preservation and buildings that can help lead Buffalo into being a 21st century city that attracts people, new ideas and investment.  I will say this – the current system that is in place is not working very well. The systems itself are the barriers to development, investment and creative design. A great example is our vacancy crisis. You want to know why we have thousands of vacant buildings and lots? Or why some incredible houses sit vacant?  Try to buy one. 

3. What people/ideas/circumstances do you think ought to be more influential in this region?

We need to empower the local folks that challenge the normal ideals, ones who have proven success after breaking barriers and taking risks. The Prish Moran’s, Aaron Bartley’s and Rocco Termini’s of the world are great examples of putting pride, excitement and love into their work. Rocco will never turn down giving a tour of the Hotel Lafayette because he knows it inspires others to buy, invest and believe in Buffalo. We need more NetZero buildings in Buffalo. We need more neighborhood coffee shops for people to meet, eat and plan revolutions. People like this continue to break barriers, challenge the norm and prove that success is not only determined by a five year financial payback. They have taken risks, proven success and deserve to have more influence in our regional decisions.

The Buffalo's Young Preservationists at the December Happy Hour & Fundraiser.
The Buffalo’s Young Preservationists at the December Happy Hour & Fundraiser.

The Blissfully Ignorant in Buffalo

This is directly from the Preservation Exchange blog written by Derek King, a new Buffalonian who fell in love with Buffalo because of our buildings, people and unique spaces. This article is powerful. It gives hard facts and speaks volumes about the overall importance of preservation and the value it brings to our economy.

You can read it here or read it below.

The Blissfully Ignorant in Buffalo

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
-Aldous Huxley

You would think that Buffalo understands what is possible with preservation. You would think that with the successes of Shea’s Theatre, Hotel Lafayette, and Larkin Square, people would finally recognize that preservation is not the antithesis of progress. You would think that with so much wonderful architecture, Western New York would have some pride for the buildings that define this city.

You would think that, right?

A recent article on Buffalo Rising highlighted many of the region’s attitudes toward preservation, aired through comments on a WBEN Facebook Status that asked, “Do we try to save too much in this town?”

The response was overwhelmingly negative, and David Steele’s juxtaposition of the commenters’ callousness against photos depicting the city’s historic architecture is powerful and infuriating.

Photo Courtesy of The Buffalo News

It is infuriating not because of an “us/them” dynamic, but for the simple lack of informed opinions, replaced with vitriolic condemnation of preservationists as “stuck in the past,” or “stopping progress.” It is infuriating because it is not just an uninformed public, but elected officials like Lackawanna Mayor Geoff Szymanski, who allow local treasures to be destroyed and repeat the same misinformed ideas about preservation.

Rather than point any fingers however, preservationists should stop relying on emotional and ideological appeal to drive their argument. The historic nature and the aesthetic beauty of these buildings is clearly not enough to convince the people of Buffalo that its architecture is worth saving.

So, let’s lay out the facts: preservation IS progress.

Don’t believe me? Here are some points you may consider:

1) Historic Preservation Creates Jobs:
How many jobs does a demolition create? Would it create more work than a project that requires plumbers, electricians, carpenters, contractors, window specialists, roofers, and painters? Studies from around the country have proven that preservation related work creates more jobs than nearly any other industry in the country, including some of our nation’s staples. In Michigan, $1 million in building rehabilitation creates 12 more jobs than $1 million in car manufacturing. In West Virginia, that $1 million creates 20 more jobs than coal mining, and in Oklahoma, $1 million worth of building rehabilitation is 29 more jobs than pumping oil.

This is because labor accounts for 70% of the cost of historic rehabilitation. Unlike manufacturing, which can move its production to wherever a cheaper workforce is, historic preservation is limited to the labor near the buildings being rehabbed, meaning that a large portion of money spent on these projects stays within the community. Between 2009-2010, 145,000 jobs were created merely through rehabilitation projects that utilized tax credits, not even counting projects that did not pursue any federal assistance. Those same tax-credit deals have generated over $6.2 billion in income as well.

This invariably leads to one of the next most vocal complaints, that historic preservation is a “tax-payer money trap,” but, if we actually look at the numbers…

2) Historic rehabilitation tax credit programs actually increase tax revenue.
The same 2011 Rutger’s study found that between 2009 and 2010, Federal and State tax credit programs allocated $1.5 billion in tax credits, and received $1.6 billion in tax revenue.  Between 1978 and 2011, the federal government’s allocation of $23.4 billion in tax credits has resulted in $90.4 billion dollars in economic activity, creating over 2 million jobs the last three decades.

In 2011 alone, the historic tax credit program created 64,000 jobs, 23,000 of which were in construction and 15,000 of which were in manufacturing. The program lead to $1.2 billion of investment overall to construction, and $1 billion to manufacturing, accounting for $3.7 billion overall to the GDP, and $2.7 billion in income.

But, since this is a federal program, it must be bloated and inefficient, no? Well…

3) Historic preservation is one of the most effective economic development tools there is.
Dollar for dollar, no program is more efficient than historic preservation. Since 1981, 1,600 communities have revitalized their downtowns using “Main Street” principles of preserving historic nature of the neighborhood, investing $16.1 billion. The 89,000 building renovations led to 56,000 new businesses, and 227,000 new jobs, largely because every dollar of public investment lead to $40 of leverage for private funds (Federal and local funding help investors secure more loans from banks, who have more confidence in the financial tenability of the project). As a result, the amount of public investment per job created is only $2,500, compared to the $50,000-$100,000 for other publicly funded programs.

This efficiency goes right back to point #2: if the government subsidizes these programs, how can they be making profit? As a former Philadelphia Mayor Edward Randell noted however, “$1 million rehabilitation expenditure would cost the Treasury $200,000 in lost tax revenue, it would at the same time generate an estimated $779,478 in wages. Taxed at 28%, the investment would produce $218,254 in federal tax revenue.” Not only does it create jobs, but it actually increased total tax-revenue.

As many anti-preservationists say, “preservationists should put their money where there mouths are,” but I’ll take that one step further: municipalities should put more money into historic preservation funding, because…

4) Historic Preservation is Sound Public Policy
This is not just because of the aforementioned job-creation from downtown-revitalization projects, but because the current model of sprawling suburban neighborhoods, moving further away from the central core, and continuing to neglect our already-built housing stock, is unsustainable.

For many, “sustainable” has become a dirty word, associated with hybrid-driving hippies and hipsters, but it is not just environmental sustainability we should be concerned with, but economic sustainability. Did you know that new-construction actually contributes 31.5 million tons of construction waste annually? Often containing hazardous materials, this represents almost 24% of the country’s total municipal solid waste, and contributes to the shortage of available landfill. Disposal costs for construction and demolition in the Northeast now ranges between $60 and $140 per ton, and is even being shipped across the country to find available space.

Since 1950, the urbanized area around Buffalo and Niagara Falls has grown three-fold, but the population has remained the same. This is unsustainable growth, and the patterns around the country already show how this kind of development is harmful to public expenditure. Sprawl requires infrastructure, including roads, sewer and water, firehouses, and schools, and the Urban Land Institute estimates that the cost of suburban development is 40 to 400 times greater than compact urban development. The cost of roads around Baltimore will be in excess of $3.6 billion by 2020, and Minneapolis-St. Paul is expected to spend $3.1 billion on water and services by 2020.

There are many arguments for continuing the sprawl outwards, including that these houses will last longer than historic structures, but…

5) When it comes to life expectancy, energy efficiency, and cost-effectiveness, sometimes Old is better than New. 
The life expectancy of a new building is between 30 and 40 years. The hardiness of 100 year old buildings means, properly maintained, they will last at least that long, if not longer. Part of this is the stronger building materials, but it is also connected to better building practices, including load-bearing walls on the exterior rather than the interior of the building that carried a majority of the weight. Historic buildings often have thicker walls, not only making them more expensive to demolish, but actually giving them excellent thermal insulation.

Demolishing a historic building doesn’t make much sense, even it is being replaced with an environmentally friendly and energy efficient new build. The cost to demolish one 2-story masonry building in a Washington neighborhood is equal to the entire environmental benefit of 1,344,000 recycled aluminum cans, not to mention the landfill issue noted above that comes with it. Without demolition, a rehab project for a commercial building will cost between 12 percent less to 9 percentmore than a comparably sized-new build, but for a new-build with demolition, rehabs would cost between 3 and 16 percent less. Even when demolition costs are factored, they are often underestimated: the fact that a building is old does not mean that it will come down easily. These buildings were designed to last.

This post is merely an introduction to help clarify some of the glaring misinformation regarding historic preservation. These five points summarize a handful of ideas from Dovovan D. Rypkema’s book “The Economics of Historic Preservation. The book details 100 points in total, and I have excerpted quite liberally from points #1-14, 22, 39, and 81-84. Dozens of other sources repeat the same things, however, including Rutgers Third Annual “Economic Impact of the Federal Historic Tax Credit” report published in 2012. This post doesn’t even address the benefits for tourism, the misinformation regarding historic districts, or community participation, all of which make historic preservation even more important to consider.

The facts are out there, but more pertinent should be the examples around us. The rehabilitation of Hotel Lafayette has triggered a series of investments downtown, including this planned mixed-use adaptation of the Rand-Tishman building. The money pumped into the enormous Larkin Complex has lead to a thriving concert and event venue (Larkin Square will be hosting a St. Patrick’s Day event this Friday, March 15th) as well as precipitated the development of other buildings nearby, like 500 Seneca. The iconic Grain Elevators were the site of the inspirational and exciting City of Night last September, and have dozens of examples around the world of how they could be utilized.

The facts are there, but perhaps that doesn’t matter. Perhaps the same people who cheer when an iconic building gets destroyed simply don’t care what the facts say, preferring to be blissfully ignorant than accept that anything “old” could be a part of progress.

That choice is fine for someone commenting on a Facebook status, but not for elected officials who control the future of their cities and towns. Buffalo, Lackawanna, and Western New York deserve better leadership, because while it may be okay for internet commentators to continue living in ignorance, blissful as it may be, it is unfair to damage this region’s future when you don’t know the facts.

Written by Derek King, Architectural Historian at Preservation Studios. 

NESEA BE13 – Conference Wrap Up & Great News To Share With You!

I wanted to do a quick wrap up of my NESEA Building Energy (Be13) experience.

First of all, I thought it would be tough to beat getting the entire NESEA building nerdy crowd to say the words “think urban, think sexy”  …. but this years conference beat it!

The overall conference was amazing. It was so much fun.. I am still recovering! There was a great vibe, a lot of newbies and attendance was at an all time high. Boston was windy and rainy but inside people were learning about buildings, cities, mechanicals and so much more. There was a lot of Buffalo representation – Chris Hawley from the City of Buffalo, Jerry Young from Young & Wright architects and Megan McNally was in attendance and/or presented. Go Buffalo!

If you are interested in NESEA – become a member! Not only do you get a discount on the conference but you do get to meet, drink and learn with the inventors/doers/shakers in the building science industry. <– See the website for details on membership, events and information.

I have really great news ! 

Matt Root and I have been selected as the co-vice chairs of the ENTIRE conference for BE2014! HOLY COW! With Marc Sternick, Matt Root and I – we make a fun, dynamic team. This means I will be helping to organize, market, find cash and move the conference forward for 2014 and 2015. NESEA is such a wonderful organization and I am happy to help dedicate my time towards making the NESEA conference in Boston even bigger and better!

The Retrofit for Resilience: Cities track that Robert Leaver and I co created had VERY high attendance! That is a BIG deal for us because this is a whole new subject and was a very risky endeavor. Building scientists don’t usually think about Cities..  but it was great to see so much interest in it! With great risk comes great reward…  Yay! I am looking forward to seeing how this track progresses over the next couple of years. Resiliency is a big topic these days!

Many thanks goes out to all of the NESEA planning staff, volunteers, NESEA employees, presenters and attendees for making this NESEA the best NESEA Building Energy conference I have ever experienced.

Glowing with excitement after being announced as the Co-Vice Chair for the NESEA BE14.
Glowing with excitement after being announced as the Co-Vice Chair for the NESEA BE14.
Presenting about cities, planning and resilience.
Chris Hawley dazzles the crowd with his presentation about zoning and Buffalo!



Quick In Rem Update: Busted Pipes

We bought this house in October from the In Rem foreclosure auction. One thing to know about the in rem – Until the deed is filed and in hand, you are not allowed in or on the property… But you are liable for any damages.

This picture shows ice from a broken water pipe. The chairs are covered in ice! The deeds were not recorded and given to us until last week… during the dead of winter. Had we been able to enter the property sooner, get utilities on/off or shut the water off – i know we would not have this type of damage and could have avoided a massive amount of water from entering and freezing the house.

I was pretty bummed until we ran into Dave Harter who is rehabbing his own in rem house on the West Side. He said ” don’t worry, you would have had to replace it anyway” and he’s right!

Anyone want to help us clean this place out??!!!?


The Old Stone Chimney in Niagara Falls, NY.

Revere the Old Stone Chimney in Niagara Falls, NY!

Several people have begun to rally to save and restore a Chimney found right off the Robert Moses Parkway in Niagara Falls, NY. The Chimney is the second oldest structure in our region and has been the topic of preservation conversation for over 150 years. It was saved and restored in the late 1800s by the Porter family, moved twice and today, sits quietly in a parking lot surrounded by pot holes and abandoned buildings just steps from the Casino and parkways that millions of tourists visit each year.

This chimney is magnificent. It’s so very neat and a lot larger than you would imagine. You can read all about its incredible history written up on Niagara Hub here.  From the article – In 1942, Edward T. Williamss, Niagara historian said, “the Old Stone Chimney is absolutely the most unique and magnificent historic relic possible on the American continent, probably in the United States, and certainly in the state of New York.  It is highly probably that no structure anywhere in America has a status such as that.”

If you are interested in joining the efforts to save this handsome guy, check out the facebook here:

As a native of Niagara Falls, I am excited about this initiative. I took some time to go over there and take a few photos. WOW! What an incredible relic. Restoring this handsome fellow can be a great way to add value to our parkways. I hope the money, time and effort that is being pumped into planning/upgrading our Olmstead parkways of Niagara Falls can consider restoring and moving this structure to a better location that can serve the public and give our past the honor it deserves!

photo 3 (7) photo 2 (7)