Broadway-Fillmore Historic Preservation District gets another approval

Apr 6, 2018

A historic district designation in the Broadway-Fillmore community took another stop forward Thursday, as the Buffalo Preservation Board recommended the Common Council approve creating the district.

1880s elevated view of Wilson Street looking southwest at St. Stanislaus Church.
Credit Buffalo Preservation Board

The proposed district would cover most of Polonia: 244 buildings in that neighborhood and 19 listed as non-contributing to historic status. Originally, proponents had considered a much larger district, but state preservation officials would not go for it because so many period buildings have been demolished, leaving empty lots on some key streets.

Fillmore District Councilmember David Franczyk said tried years ago to establish the designation, but the support structure for landmarking just was not there.

"I'm not only here in my role as the councilmember representing this community, I'm also a resident," Franczyk said. "I received a notice of this hearing today and I enthusiastically support landmarking of the Broadway Fillmore - hopefully - Historic Preservation District and I will recommend that to my colleagues, accordingly."

The process has taken years and requires Council approval, then a return to the Preservation Board for the final stage on the way to Albany.

There was some opposition from 716 Ministries, which argued a preservation district would put too much pressure on poor residents who would have to go through the difficult Preservation Board process for changes in their homes.

1951 view of Broadway Market, looking southeast with Lombard Street buildings in background.
Credit Buffalo Preservation Board

"I don't think that many of them understand how it's going to work and safe to navigate the Preservation Board," said 716 Executive Director Jeff Jones. "I don't know if they know the contractors are willing to go through that process and worry about the additional costs of the hardship on that."

District sponsors were told they are going to have to make major efforts to ensure people who buy in the district in the future are aware of the rules. Stephen Karnath, executive director of Broadway Fillmore Neighborhood Housing, said the district would be good, as it would come with tax and other incentives for residents and businesses.

"I just finished part one and part two for my house in the Elmwood Village," Karnath said. "I get a $6,000 credit next year for the work on my house and one of the things we've been saying to people is, 'Why shouldn't people in a low-income neighborhood be able to take advantage of the same financial benefits that we're getting in the Elmwood Village.'"