Plans to demolish historic Lafayette Avenue home cause controversy

Posted at 5:59 PM, Sep 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-07 14:57:46-04

A historic home in Buffalo's Elmwood Village is causing quite the stir for neighbors along Lafayette Avenue. Owners of 647 Lafayette are proposing to demolish it and rebuild a new one.

Louise Yots said she moved to the street six years ago specifically for its historic charm. So you can imagine her displeasure knowing her new neighbors across the street want to tear down the blue colonial and build a new home in its place.

“Besides the disruption that such a demolition could cause, it bothers me to think that someone doesn't think about the preservation of the building and the history of the building.”

According to neighbor, Greg Williams, the owners did take that into consideration. “They weren't sure of all the damage until they actually got hold of the property and were able to go through it with a fine tooth comb and they were disheartened that it didn't work out that way,” Williams said.

Williams said he also handled the home appraisal about five years ago for the previous owners. He says the upstairs has been divided into multiple apartments and there's extensive water damage throughout.

“To save anything, you'd have to pretty much take everything away. Maybe you'd have to save some of the framing. But, besides that, there's not much that is salvageable inside or outside of that house.”

Jessie Fisher disagrees. Fisher's the executive director of Preservation Buffalo Niagara. The nonprofit was asked to get involved from neighbors interested in saving the house. She said the home is irreplaceable.

“There isn't anything like this. These are amazing assets for the city of Buffalo and it is these homes which have made our neighborhoods so strong.”

Neighbors like Louise Yots agree and she's hoping the owners will reconsider. “Every house is different and every house has a story and that's really important.”

In a statement, the owners said, in part:

“As the owners of 647 Lafayette Avenue, we are very excited about the plans for our new property and the positive impact it will have on the surrounding neighborhood. We are committed to being good homeowners and neighbors, and take great pride in our investment in the Elmwood Village.

"After looking hard at the possibility of rehab and renovation, it was clear that many aspects of the house were in serious disrepair, and the structure overall was in very bad shape. The plan now is to build a new structure that will add to the esthetics of the neighborhood.

"All along, we have made it a point to follow applicable procedures and laws, and we will continue to do so as the process moves forward. We appreciate the interest this has generated in the community as well as the support received thus far.”

The owners are scheduled to present their proposal to Buffalo's Planning Board on Monday at 4pm.