630 High Street
by Geoff Kelly - posted 1:43 pm, March 25, 2008
Last week AV’s Pete Koch and I joined Fix Buffalo‘s Dave Torke and Just Buffalo‘s Mike Kelleher to walk through 630 High Street, an abandoned building located where High ends at Herman Street, near Genesee.
The building is 40,000 square feet, with beautiful wood floors, a central, open staircase running through all four floors and tremendous banks of south-facing windows. It’s located in a part of the city that attracts little development capital and promises no return on the money, public or private, that is invested here.
But it could be great—artist studios, a la Artspace, for example. If there’s a buyer with the money to fix the building and the tenacity to get it pulled from the city’s demolition list.
The roof leaks and all the systems have been destroyed, but the structure seems solid; apart from the substantial cost of the roof, plumbing, etc., the most daunting rehab task would be clearing the garbage that’s been dumped inside over the years. The last private owner of the building was notorious slumlord and scofflaw Venere E. Hutchinson.
According to Peter Cutler, director of communications for Byron Brown, the city-owned structure was on a list of buildings that were to be auctioned last September. But Commissioner Rich Tobe of the Department of Economic Development, Permit and Inspection Services pulled 630 High Street out of that auction in order to include it on the city’s Restore NY grant application for demolition funds—an application that eventually brought the city more than $10 million in grants, but which did not include funds for the demolition of 630 High Street.