December 19th, 2019- WBFO News
By Michael Mroziak
He bought the building two years ago to spare it from the wrecking ball. Thursday morning, local developer Rocco Termini donated the property at 72 Sycamore Street, handing the deed over to Preservation Buffalo Niagara, which plans to revive the pre-Civil War structure for mixed use.
The building, believed to have been constructed around 1848, has stood vacant for about 20 years and is in need of rehabilitation.
Jessie Fisher, executive director of Preservation Buffalo Niagara, said the plan is to convert the building, once restored, into three affordable housing units, an office space for the non-profit corporation Heart of the City Neighborhoods, and a lower-level workshop for her own organization.
She estimates rehabilitation and renovations will cost about $2 million. Funding sources are currently being sought but it was noted that the property is located within the Impact Zone of the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor. Termini sees the acquisition of 72 Sycamore Street by Preservation Buffalo Niagara as a first step towards renewing a heritage Buffalo block.
“We’ve been working for about two years to get this project going, and we finally have all the pieces together,” he said.
Fisher expects to have the project before the Buffalo Planning Board in the spring. The hope is to have the apartments ready for tenants by the summer of 2021.
She noted the building’s history in the mid-19th Century serving as a boarding house during Buffalo’s rapid growth.
“You have to picture it, the Erie Canal was about 20 years old at that point, and Buffalo is just growing every day by hundreds and hundreds of people and they needed places to live,” said Fisher. “Boarding houses like this one provided one of those options. That fact that for 172 years it has stood here and anchored this part of Sycamore Street, it’s really significant. And it’s really significant in the story that is the City of Buffalo.”