The recent demolition of the Atwater House by the owner of neighboring Pano’s Restaurant sets a dangerous precedent and represents a major threat to the future health of Elmwood Avenue.
While it is true that this attractive building, which was in fine shape and fully occupied until the owner decided he would rather demolish it, was deemed by New York State to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, and that the Preservation Board of the City of Buffalo also deemed the building worthy of saving, the loss of this individual house is not the tragedy.
The tragedy is that the City of Buffalo, by not passing the Elmwood Village Design Guidelines and Zoning Recommendations into law, has left the entire Street vulnerable to similar development, which would gradually erode the economic health of the entire Elmwood Village.
Elmwood Avenue has become successful because of its closely-knit, mixed-use buildings. The more often this fabric is eroded with parking lots and single-story, single-use buildings, the harder this vibrancy is to sustain. Current laws pit neighbor against developer and do not reflect the needs or desires of the Elmwood Village community.
The Elmwood Village Association, worked with hundreds of local businesses, residents, and the City of Buffalo to create new development laws that clearly outline the type of development that the community desires. The Guidelines will safeguard the important fabric of our neighborhood while not creating burdensome rules that could stifle creativity or be onerous to comply with. The Guidelines give clear direction to developers on Elmwood: create multistory buildings, with mixed use occupancy; parking in the rear of structures; appropriate windows and doors; and quality building materials. These are a few of the important guidelines needed to keep Elmwood Avenue a vibrant economic success.
For the City to claim that creating a Historic District on Elmwood Avenue is the only way to protect our physical environment is to overlook a simple, obvious answer. The Elmwood Village Association calls upon you to act on the desires of your voting constituents. Please support the immediate adoption of the Elmwood Village Design Guidelines and Zoning Recommendations before the health of Elmwood Avenue is beyond repair.