Preservationists throw a party, seeking ideas for restoring Wildroot building

Sep 19, 2017

It used to be home to the Wildroot hair product company. Local preservationists see the abandoned building on Buffalo's East Side as having great potential for reuse. On Monday, they hosted a block party to hear the community's ideas for how to do it.

The block party was held for two hours, at the intersection of West Shore and Fay Streets near Walden, and was open to members of the public and local elected officials. Hosting the event were representatives of three preservationist groups: Preservation League of New York State, Preservation Buffalo Niagara and Buffalo's Young Preservationists.

A view of the former Wildroot building from Bailey Avenue.
Credit Google Maps

"I think people don't realize that it exists, quite frankly," said Jessie Fisher, executive director of Preservation Buffalo Niagara. "It's sort of tucked away in a little corner near Bailey Avenue on the railroad track. We think people don't remember that Wildroot is there and that it is a ripe development opportunity. 

The building is listed on Preservation League of New York State's "Seven to Save" in 2016-17 and is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Although there is need for rehabilitation, the interior has what Fisher describes as an open floor plan. 

"The community had great reuse ideas," Fisher said. "Everything from trying to connect it with the city's Northland project, and think about this as another place for light manufacturing."

Others suggested it would make an ideal neighborhood community center. 

The next step, according to Fisher, is to work with the Preservation League of New York State and its Industrial Heritage Reuse Plan, and raise funds to conduct a feasibility study. Preservation groups are expressing a willingness to do the homework in order to encourage interest by developers.

"We see ourselves as empowering communities to help take care of their historic assets," Fisher said.