Painting For Preservation:The June Schedule Is Out!

Painting for Preservation is such a great preservation initiative. For those who don’t know what it is – you paint the building (not the actual building) – you paint it on a canvas using paint, watercolor, pen, chalk.. or whatever your medium is. It is a great way to engage artists, children and the general public. Notice that TRICO is set for Saturday, June 1st , 9:30 am – 12:30 pm – Art-in at Trico Plant #1, 791 Washington St., Buffalo. Awesome!

Check the schedule & details out below!


Painting for Preservation will be capturing the stately beauty of 36-50 East Utica Street on Saturday, May 18, 2013 from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm.  Artists of all media and skill level, community members, and interested observers are invited to document these beautiful but neglected historic homes through participation in on-site art-making and story sharing.  Dana Saylor-Furman, an organizing member of Painting for Preservation, researched and wrote The Active Path to Rebirth about the 1880s buildings for Buffalo Spree.

The upcoming June Painting for Preservation events are as follows:

·         Saturday, June 1st , 9:30 am – 12:30 pm – Art-in at Trico Plant #1, 791 Washington St., Buffalo

·         Friday, June 7th, 7 pm – Artist Talk at C.G. Jung Center, 408 Franklin Ave., Buffalo

·         Wednesday, June 12th, 5 pm – 7:30 pm – Art-in at Niagara Square, Buffalo (in conjunction with BALLE conference)

·         Saturday, June 22nd,  9:30 am – 12:30 pm – Art-in at St. Ann’s Church, Broadway and Emslie, Buffalo

·         Friday, June 28th,  6 pm – 8 pm – Closing Reception at C.G. Jung Center, 408 Franklin Ave., Buffalo


Artists who participate in these art-in will have the opportunity to exhibit their completed and/or partially completed artwork at the C.G. Jung Center in an on-going exhibit.

Often an inanimate building doesn’t cause us pause, but a group of people staring at a building for 3 hours can, especially if those people are making art.  Recently, artists created work based on 23 North Street, the former home of WEBR, in historic Allentown.  Artists had the opportunity to engage in dialogue with many local residents about the condition of the building, residents’ hopes for it, and to share with them local preservation efforts and initiatives.

Please see for more information and pictures.



Contact: Sara M. Zak, * Many more images can be included if you would like more*



Pen & Ink  by the fabulous Mickey Harmon!

Pen and Ink by Mickey Harmon

Repost! Officially On The Real Estate Market: City Owned Residential and Commercial Properties

Officially On The Real Estate Market: City Owned Residential and Commercial Properties

Things have begun to change for the better in the Dept. of Real Estate in City Hall.

Christie Nelson, the new Director of Real Estate has officially put several City owned residential and commercial properties up for sale to the public.   The houses have for sale signs, they have been appraised and are now publicly listed for all to see. Right now there are 20 residential houses and eight commercial city owned properties on sale.  Considering the very limited resources to maintain the city owned properties, this is a very promising start.

For a list of all the residential properties, click here.

For a list of all commercial buildings for sale, click here.

If you are interested in learning more about the process of buying, check out the Department of Real Estate Website here.  The process of obtaining these is not an easy one however, for $5,000 – $10,000 dollars, you can essentially have your self a house with good bones, some historic character and a blank slate to make it what you want. Below are a couple of photos pulled from the residential listings found online.

This is a great step in the right direction for the Real Estate Department. Every house that is sold is one that is not demolished. The faster we can get these houses out of the hands of the City and into a private, local owner, the better. Let’s hope these opportunities go to local people who are ready, willing and able to rehab these structures and bring them back to life. You can read about a couple who are goingbuying a City Owned Property here. While the process has been long, the end result will be well worth it.

240 TimonBerkshire Front ExteriorBerkshire KitchenBerkshire Living RoomWinslow

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Impractical Cartography – Mapping Your Buffalove is Printed & Out On The Streets!!

Late last year, my friend Kristine announced that she was going to make a zine that was dedicated to mapping buffalo by EXPERIENCES, STORIES & MEMORIES not by streets & addresses. She called it “Conroy & Brown’s Impractical Cartography” and put a call out for submittals late last year. This weekend it made its debut (in print!) at the Small Press Book Fair and is now in the hands of over 75 people who can read the real reasons that make the spaces of Buffalo very special places. It is a beautifully made zine – the materials, binding and style is very hip and made with Buffalove.

The zine covers stories from all over the city – the West Side, East Side, Elmwood, Allentown.. and more. Some are place specific, others are about Buffalo in general. Julia Rocchi from the National Trust for Historic Preservation wrote about her experience at Five Points Bakery, one of many “community building” experiences during her visit that made her literally fall in love with Buffalo. What did I write about? The day I met Jason for the first time, which was the day I realized I could have someone by my side who was as crazy in love with Buffalo as much as I was. We met at Sweetness (of course) and it’s been our favorite spot ever since!

This printed matter may have not happened if it wasn’t for Sugar City’s last Sunday Soup event. The Impractical Cartography folks were just one of several proposals all fighting over a solid 500 dollar grant. But luckily, they won!

Thank you to Kristine, Mike and Joel for putting this together. Your project has been one of my favorites!

You can find out more about this project here:


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. 

Build For Forever.

When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for; and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, “See! This our father did for us.” – John Ruskin

I would like to officially say goodbye to the historic houses on Busti Avenue that we demolished for “progress” this past weekend. My heart goes out to the groups, organizations and neighbors that fought for 15 years to stop this. No, this is not fair.

Peace Bridge Demolitions

New Book – For the love of Cities!

7 pages in and I am so in love.. Never have I read a book that talks about the importance of loving your city which is something I feel so so strongly about. You have to love where you live!!

“When we have an emotional connection to our place, we are less likely to leave it and far more likely to champion and defend it in the face of criticism.” – Peter Kageyama, author of For the Love of Cities .



Heart Bombs in Buffalo, NY

We made hearts on a Sunday morning.
We heart bombed 5 buildings.
We got heart bombed by the National Trust with Cupcakes.
We made local and national news – Design Sponge, and Buffalorising.
We got inspired and inspired others.

I can’t stress this enough…. BYP is a group of dedicated people who listen, love and do for the City of Buffalo. Our heart bombs have begun to inspire others to show a little love to their favorite buildings in Buffalo and across the nation. Neat, huh? We are determined to change the way preservation is viewed and make people realize that preservation is progress and an economic engine for our City.

Overall, the event was a super success! Now we have to work hard to get these cuties back online and out of the Vacancy Vortex.

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Design Circuit Event on Thursday!!!! MUST ATTEND!

I am really excited to be speaking at this on Thursday!
Designcircuit invites you to join us in our second panel discussion, The Resilience Economy, on Thursday, February 21, 2013 at the Old 1st Ward Community Center. Spend a night discussing the projects and actions directly impacting Buffalo today. The focus of this panel discussion is the area immediately surrounding Ohio Street and the Buffalo River. The discussion will begin at 7pm, and will include time for open questions from you, so please come and participate in the conversation and help us answer…Now that we can do anything, how will we do it?

the Resilience Economy

Resilience Economy panel discussion seeks to continue the conversation and build upon the recent thread of Designcircuit’s panel discussion in October and the recent ECHDC town hall meeting. We have invited a wide range of panelists to explore the relevance and importance of economic sustainability for emerging city territories such as Canalside, Ohio Street, and the Outer Harbor Development, all from the point of view of people making a positive impact on the City of Buffalo. Each participant has a project in motion that aims to empower the city, all at very different scales and from very different programmatic points of view. Our goal is to facilitate a format that engages and examines the specific economic engines that enable urban action; to hold an event that is research-based and active in informing the community.

Chris Hawley, Urban Planner + Historian 


Chris Hawley, City Planner + Historian

Panelists + Topics
William Haskas, hard-boiled, fried, or scrambled a revealing identity crisis
Sam Hoyt, topic forthcoming
James Pitts, Our Neighborhood, Our Choice! Rebuilding Lives and a New Community from the Ground UP!
Bernice Radle, The Vacancy Vortex: Understanding Buffalo’s Vacant Building Crisis (Where Buildings Go To Die… or get really really beat up)
Sam Savarino, topic forthcoming
Rick Smith, Silo City; Authentic Regeneration 


First Ward Community Center
62 Republic Street
Buffalo, NY 14204Date and Time:
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Free + Open to the Public
For more info, contact me at

William Haskas, LuStudio, Designer, LuStudio
Sam Hoyt, ECHDC;
James Pitts, JWPitts Planning&DevelopmentLLC; JWPitts
Bernice Radle, Buffalove Development;
Sam Savarino, Savarino Companies;
Rick Smith, Silo City;