Recent news has highlighted the end of an ongoing battle between Buffalo preservationists and the owners of 375 Colvin Avenue, the former North Side Baptist Church. This highly visible trademark of the Colvin/Tacoma neighborhood has recently begun demolition, even after a major campaign was formed, urging Mayor Brown to rescind his issuance of a demolition permit, effective Monday, December 31, 2012. There was also an attempt by the City of Buffalo Preservation Board to nominate the former church for local landmark designation, given the property’s high architecturally design, rich history, and physical presence in the neighborhood, which was not accepted.
What’s intriguing is that in 2010, plans were drawn up to re-purpose the church using the Historical Tax Credit program. With the aid of the Historic Tax Credit, buildings are being converted into trendy downtown living lofts, and homeowners in at-risk neighborhoods are provided incentives for renovation work on their historic homes.Preservation Studios partnered with the Frizlen Group in creating a design that would have placed residential units into the congregation space. The proposed design called for keeping the original interior wall surfaces and stained glass windows, and inserted an independent structure within the open space of the sanctuary. An excerpt from the Buffalo Rising story reveals the outcome:
“The New York State Historic Preservation Office was supportive, and presented the project for informal review to the National Park Service who oversees the historic tax credit program. But the National Park Service eventually rejected the design, primarily because the openness of the congregation space would be lost. With their proposed project being ruled ineligible for the Historic Tax Credit program, the Frizlen Group decided to not move forward with purchasing and repurposing the church. It was determined that Historic Tax Credits were essential in making the proposed project financially feasible.”
This comes just days after demolition of the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building has begun. Zoladz Construction is now air-testing on this site, to ensure that harmful chemicals (such as asbestos) are not released into the air upon demolition. This demo is expected to take a total of 45 days.
While Buffalo seems to be making moves within the past few years – refurbishing historic sites (Statler, Hotel Lafayette, etc.) re-purposing vacant space (Donovan building) and finally giving meaning to the waterfront (the Harbor, old Aud site, and Webster block) – it seems to just as quickly be removing those smaller gems that have built this city into what it is today.