I am all about small scale incremental neighborhood development.
I am the owner and CEO of Buffalove Development and Little Wheel Restoration Co. We’re based in Buffalo, NY but do work in other small rust belt cities. I am the Vice Chair of the City of Buffalo Zoning Board of Appeals, a faculty member of the Incremental Development Alliance and a VIP with the Buffalo’s Young Preservationists. I was a host and house rehabber on American Rehab Buffalo (DIY Network & HGTV). My work has been featured in the NYTimes, Huffington Post, City Lab, Preservation Magazine, Old Home Magazine and many other publications.
I am an urban planner, historic preservationist and building science nerd. I believe strong healthy neighborhoods are the key to our communities success. I believe that neighborhood strength isn’t defined by how expensive the homes are, it is defined by how inclusive it is to all walks of life. My team is 20 strong and over 50% female – even n construction. My small businesses mentioned above are my focus and what allow me to do what I love which makes me a happy little lady!
Instagram: @berniceradle @buffalovedevelopment @littlewheelhustle
Contact: Text / Call 716.237.0419 or Email: Bernice@buffalovedevelopment.com
2 thoughts on “About Bernice”
Thanks for doing this blog, and also your support for Buffalo’s architecture.
I’ve been thinking of ways that we can prevent such tragedies as the Colvin Ave. church demo, along with other demos. The old ways don’t always work and involve too many variables and rely upon the goodness and competence of city officials and others. IOW, its really difficult to save buildings, especially when they are in the verge of demo.
So a better solution is needed, one that bypasses all that. The only really safe way to save a building is to own it, or own part of it, so that it can’t be sold or demoed without our approval. If a preservation organization owned all or part owned the Colvin church, then it could have prevented any demo.
With ownership comes the responsibility of maintaining it, of course. But at least the building is saved, and it can at least be mothballed until there an occupant can take it.
My thought is this: We should have a fund, and that fund would be used to buy a whole or partial ownership in any at-risk building. The fund would be administered by a non-profit historic preservation group. (It can be an existing group, a coalition of existing groups, or a new one. It can be wholly or partly owned by any of those groups or a stand alone. Details can be figured out later).
The Fund can be used to purchase the building or do a variety of things and do stabilization, if needed. Then the Fund can work with community leaders to find a business or a non profit that can rent the building for use. The renter would need to show the capability of maintaining the building and paying for utilities and regular upkeep, but would have no rent or low rent.
By maintaining ownership of the building, we know we never have to worry about degredation of the building by people selling off parts of it, or demoing it or neglecting it. I’m sure there are many non profits in the area that would welcome a vibrant space at no rent. Most establisehd non profits have an income stream of some sorts enough to pay for utilities and upkeep. Everyone wins.
Where would the funds come from? First, donations and grant money. Second, take an estimate of how much it will cost to demo the building, and if the city is going to pay for the demo, and the estimate is $200,000, then instead of demoing the building, the city transfers $200,000 to the Fund. (I know, the city is supposed to bill the owner for the costs of the demo, but we all know that it rarely gets the money back. The city is out the money.). The city can either grant the Fund the money, or can hold an IOU for the money, so that if the Fund ever sells the building, the City gets the $200,000 back.
The city should also designate the building real estate as a tax free site, it if isn’t already, so that the Fund doesn’t have to pay property taxes. In most cases, like a church, this is already in place. But in other places, it could matter to the Fund. The city isn’t really losing much, because if the building was abandoned, it isn’t likely paying much in property taxes, and many are delinquent anyway.
With the Colvin Ave church, let’s suppose it costs $200,000 to demo it. Who paid for that, btw? Was it the city? then give that money to the Fund, and the Fund purchases the buildling for a small amount of money, perhaps $50,000. With the remaining $150,000, use that to stabilize or make small improvements so that it can be habitable for office or commerical use.
With ownership, demo is no longer an option. Now, the Fund can shop around and see — is there a dance studio that needs space? If so, you rent it to them for $1 a year, with the proviso that they must maintain and upkeep the building. It’s quite possible that those costs are equivolent to what they are paying in rent elsewhere, so it should be a wash. Or perhaps it gives them room to grow.
Additionally, the Fund would work with consultants who would in turn work with the dance studio on how to maximize it’s revenue. So if it’s a church, it’s a dance studio most of the week, but they rent out the space on Sunday for a small congregation that needs a space. Evenings can be rented out for concerts, or weddings, or what ever. Anything to promote revenue streams.
The only thing that we would need is a law allowing demo money to go into the Fund instead of actual demo. One simple change like that, which costs the city nothing ultimately, and we can save a lot of treasures. The fund itself would require management, so we would have some employment there, and the saved buildlings would become areas of economic activity where they were not before. Everyone wins.
Please let me know what you think about this idea. Thanks!
Hi Randy! This is great. Can I post your comment on my blog?