Winging It in Buffalo: The city unveils a plan to take down its white elephants

Posted on: September 7th, 2007 by Preservation magazine

 

Downtown Buffalo’s gemsThere is no denying that Buffalo has seen better days. In the past 50 years, the city has lost some of its key industries, and, consequently, nearly half of its population. The result: tens of thousands of abandoned buildings.

Last July, Barbara Reed, the mother of a firefighter who was seriously injured while putting out an arson fire, wrote a letter to the Buffalo News offering a "mother's cure" for the problem: Take Down a House. She challenged the citizens of Buffalo to donate their own money to tear down the houses that the city could not afford to demolish. "I'm angry as to why this had to happen," she writes. "The equation is simple. Old houses plus fire (arson) equals potential danger and tragedy."

Reed's letter gives a voice to some residents' overwhelming sense of frustration as the city has grappled to find a solution to the problem. Since 1995, the city has demolished nearly 5,000 abandoned structures in an effort to curb blight and arson, but it estimates that there are as many as 10,000 more that need to be demolished.

Last month, the city announced a "Five by Five" program it hopes will bring its vacancy rate closer to five percent within five years by demolishing 1,000 buildings a year, a rate close to three demolitions a day.

... Read More →

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Beyond Green Building: Morning Roundup

Posted on: September 7th, 2007 by Patrice Frey

 

News to keep you in the know -- Energy Use and Policy

  • Coal Use To Grow Despite Green Concern  -- ENN.  Coal use grew by 30 percent in the last five years and future demand will likely fuel more power plant construction despite environmentalists' opposition, the head of U.S. coal mining company Peabody Energy said on Thursday.
  • U.S. Geothermal Energy Sector Promising  -- Reuters. Geothermal energy could fill a sizable chunk of United States electricity requirements if legislative, technological and other challenges are met, a senior U.S. Department of Energy official said.
  • APEC rift opens over climate change debate-- Reuters. Leaders at an Asia-Pacific summit appeared deadlocked on Thursday over what their "Sydney Declaration" on climate change and cutting greenhouse gas emissions should say. The Climate Change Wars.
  • GAO Faults Agencies Over Global Warming  - ENN.  GAO Criticizes federal agencies for lack of action on climate related issues.
  • Green Valley in WalMart's Back Yard  -- Washington Post.   Will Fayetteville " become to sustainability what Detroit is to the automotive industry and the Silicon Valley is to technology"??
  • Love it? Check the Label  -- NYT.   "Buy American" is back.

Green Building

  • Minnesota Creates Green Building Certification Program  The Minnesota GreenStar program is a new standards program that will certify environmentally friendly building practices for new and existing buildings alike, as well as remodeling and building addition projects.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Beyond Green Building: Morning Roundup

Posted on: September 6th, 2007 by Patrice Frey

 

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Houston Shopping Center Partially Demolished

Posted on: September 5th, 2007 by Margaret Foster

 

River Oaks Shopping CenterIt's a city landmark, but it was partially demolished yesterday. Despite an appeal from National Trust President Richard Moe, the owner of Houston's River Oaks shopping center, Weingarten Realty, bulldozed part of the art deco structure yesterday to make way for a Barnes & Noble.

"Once the demolition started, they didn't waste any time. It was basically finished overnight," says David Bush, director of programs and information at the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance.

Read the back story on Preservation Online >>

Read more about the River Oaks Center >>

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

 

An online extra: Q & A With Wayne Curtis, author of "Block by Block: wo years after Katrina, a new New Orleans is finally taking shape," in the September/October issue of Preservation magazine.

Q: How have you seen New Orleans change since you moved there last October?

It's been slow. When we were first looking for a house, there were commercial strips where they had boarded up stores like Taco Bell and Rite Aid. They're still pretty bleak, but it doesn't look like a disaster zone anymore; it looks like any other rundown American city. For post-Katrina New Orleans, that's an improvement.

The second anniversary was interesting. People who fly in and don't really know it say it's a mess, but there were a lot of parts that were a mess before the flood. There's the upbeat reporting and the doom-and-gloom reporting. The perception when you talk to people who just read the AP stories is that things are still in horrible shape.

I'm more optimistic, and I think that was reflected in the story. There's a lot happening on the street level, bit by bit. My perception is that it'll take 10 years. If you look at it that way, we're 20 percent through a rebuild, and we're in good shape. There are a lot of [journalists] who are always incensed that the city hasn't rebuilt yet. That's sort of disingenuous because it's only been two years. If you look at it as a 10-to-15-year rebuild arc, things are in pretty good shape.

Read more on Preservation Online >>

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.