Closer Look: Redevelopment Plans for 68-72 Sycamore
January 19th, 2021- Buffalo Rising Online
By: Buffalo Rising Online
Preservation Buffalo Niagara’s plans for restoration of 72 Sycamore Street and construction of an addition on a vacant parcel to the west will be reviewed by the Preservation Board on Thursday. Under plans prepared by Flynn Battaglia Architects, the existing building at 72 Sycamore will contain four affordable apartments on the first through third floors and workshop space for Preservation Buffalo Niagara on the lower level. The addition at 68 Sycamore will contain two affordable apartments on the second level and office space for Heart of the City Neighborhoods, a non-profit neighborhood development organization. An elevator will be located between the two buildings and will serve both.
72 Sycamore is listed on the State Register of Historic Places and a National Register listing is pending. The proposed project will utilize funding from the NYS Office of Homes & Community Renewal as well as state and federal historic tax credits.
Project details from the Preservation Board application:
72 Sycamore will be rehabilitated at the exterior and interior. All work will be performed according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties, latest edition. Exterior work will include:
- Repointing and limited rebuilding of exterior brickwork where required at all elevations. The strength of existing bricks will be tested prior to work and the historically-appropriate mortar type selected.
- The strength of the existing brick at the front façade below the existing paint layers will be tested and if determined to be able to withstand general weathering, the existing paint layers will be removed and the original brick exposed. Paint removal will be undertaken using the gentlest effective means. If the brick is found to be too soft to withstand general weathering, the brick will be repainted.
- The existing windows are recent vinyl replacements. These will be replaced with new aluminum-clad wood windows. The sash will have a 6-over-6 muntin pattern consistent with the Federal architectural style of the building.
- The existing low-slope roofing will be removed to the wood deck, the deck repaired, and new insulation and EPDM installed. The simple wood cornice at the top of the front façade will be repaired or replaced in kind.
- The existing deteriorated wood front stair will be removed and a new more ornamental masonry stair will be constructed, with a design derived from rowhouses elsewhere in Buffalo and the Northeastern US.
- The existing paired hollow metal front doors will be removed and new historically-appropriate doors will be installed filling the full 8 foot height of the original opening at this location.
- The existing cast iron storefront at the lower level will be rehabilitated, the existing infill will be removed and new glass will be installed, and the existing concrete stair leading down to it will be repaired.
- Existing ivy will be removed from the side and rear walls.
Addition Overview and Materials
A new two-story addition will be constructed at 68 Sycamore, connected internally to the existing building at #72. The materials of the addition are intended to be durable to create a building that will contributing positively to the city’s long-term urban fabric rather than be a source of planned obsolescence.
An elevator tower will be located at the front façade between the two primary facades, set back approximately 3 feet. The elevator tower will be constructed of CMU and covered in a large public art mural facing Sycamore Street.
The front façade of the addition will be faced in cast stone with a glass storefront at the first floor and stucco at the second floor with deeply inset one-over-one aluminum-clad wood double-hung windows of the same type planned for the existing building. The first floor glass storefront will be constructed of a mix of contemporary aluminum frames and salvaged metal and/or wood frames. Several of the second floor windows will be accented with Juliet balconies. A canopy faced in metal panels will shade the storefront.
The materials of the front façade return one bay onto the west façade. The remainder of the west façade will have a cast stone water table and be CMU above since it is located on the property line adjacent to a site that could potentially be redeveloped in the future. However, nearly the entirety of the second floor will be covered with a large public art mural to ensure this façade adds color and life to the street.
A passageway extends through the westernmost bay of the addition first floor from the street to the rear patio. An ornamental gate will close off this opening from the street to discourage loitering.
The rear façade facing the back patio will have a cast stone water table, fiber cement planks at the first floor, and stucco at the second floor. A metal and glass storefront will provide access from the first floor commercial space onto the rear patio. The second floor windows will be one-over-one aluminum-clad wood double-hung units. An “extensive” (low maintenance, non-occupiable) green roof will be constructed on the roof of this addition in order to help manage stormwater and contribute to the city’s green infrastructure.
A new rear patio will be constructed behind #68 as shown on the Site Plan, paved with concrete or pavers and including several tree pits and shrub planters. A small rear yard space for use by one of the residential tenants will be constructed behind #72, also paved with concrete or pavers. The tenant rear yard will be divided from the rear patio by a fence and gate.
Pending funding and the necessary permits, the existing deteriorated front sidewalk is also intended to be replaced in-kind with concrete as shown on the Site Plan and including new tree pits, planters, and ornamental street lamps.