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Preservation Board recommends against demolishing two disputed W. Delavan homes

Ellicott Development
These two houses are at issue on West Delavan Avenue.

The Buffalo Preservation Board has recommended against demolishing two buildings on West Delavan Avenue to make way for new structures.

The outsides of the two buildings look old and tired, while pictures submitted by Ellicott Development show the insides are a mess. The company says no one has lived there for many years and the buildings have been used to store auto parts and tires.

Ellicott paid $420,000 for the two structures adjacent to the company's 905 Elmwood complex and says they are o't worth saving. The company wants to replace the buildings with new ones.

Neighborhood activist and block club leader Gretchen Cercone says Ellicott can do better.

Credit Ellicott Development
Interior views of the houses.

"If anyone has the resources and a history and a track record of adaptive reuse, it's Ellicott Development," Cercone says. "They have beautiful buildings that were in way worse shape than these houses that they have redone. You can look at the Fairmont Creamery. You can look at Elk Street. They have done a beautiful job. They have the resources. They have the ability to make these houses amazing and they are choosing not to do so, and we're just not okay with that."

Ellicott Development Director Tom Fox says the Preservation Board can only make a recommendation on the demolition. The final decision is up to the Common Council.

However, it is a little more complicated than that, since the two buildings are in a historic district. Buffalo's Green Code means there has to be approval of the final development plan before a demo permit can be issued.

Fox says only replacement with new buildings makes economic sense, rather than renovation.

"What we are proposing in place of the existing two-unit dwellings at 619 and 621 West Delavan are two brand new townhome units in place that have been designed to blend well with the character of the neighborhood along West Delavan and in that location," Fox says. "Those would be eventually for sale or just rental units that we can construct there."

Credit Ellicott Development
Interior views submitted to the Preservation Board by Ellicott Development.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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