University Heights, Ken-Bailey poised to become city's newest historic district

Feb 21, 2020

Buffalo's University Heights and Kensington-Bailey neighborhoods may soon become an historic district. The University District Community Association is nominating about 1,500 residential properties for the special status.

Darren Cotton, the association's director of community development and planning, said there are tax benefits for those owning homes in historic districts.

"The goal at the end of this is to give homeowners access to another tool they can use to invest in their homes, primarily through historic tax credits that New York gives to homeowners," Cotton said.

Once known as "The Buffalo Plains" with sprawling farms, University Heights became one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in Buffalo in the early part of the 20th century. It features a variety of housing styles from small bungalows to Colonials and Tudors.

"This neighborhood developed around the advent of the street car," Cotton said. "For a long time, people were limited as to where they lived based on how long it would take to get from point A to point B. But with the street car coming on the scene, it made it possible for people to live as far north as the University at Buffalo South Campus."

Cotton assured residents that historic district status doesn not mean their hands will be tied.

"People might be worried someone is going to tell them what color to paint their house. But that is not applicable in an historic district," Cotton said. "People won't have to go before a preservation board."

Residents were briefed about plans for the historic district at a meeting Thursday night at the Gloria Parks Community Center.  

Cotton said the historic district status should be finalized within a few months.