March comes in like a lion… and out like a… Lion? Snapchat, PB&J’s and Rust Belt Coalition

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Ahhh! It has been a month without a post! How can that be?

March is by far the busiest month I have had in a very long time. I’m being fueled by PB&J’s and coffee… and my friends, wonderful boyfriend and family have come to my rescue many times. It has gotten so crazy that I have stripped my outfits down to one shoe / one coat style for the week and each outfit is washed, folded and ready to go for the entire week! The clothes effort is a big one – keeping things quality over quantity, sexy yet functional and stylish while maintaining a small, simple wardrobe is very hard but always something I strive for. It is hard when you go from construction to business to casual during your traditional work week… but I always like the challenge. If you’re looking for fashion / style inspiration, look no further to my newest favorite fashion icon, Garance Dore’.

I have a few things up my sleeve which I can’t explain at the moment but will announce shortly. I will say that all of it is much needed and wildly exciting. Here is a secret… check Buffalove Development on instagram hints. All of it is so much fun, crazy, stressful that at times I just turn this song on and dance for the entire thing!

A few things for all of you…  I am now on snapchat. All the cool kids are doing it! Username: berniceradle , American Rehab Buffalo is airing on DIY Network again in April , and we’re officially almost ready to kick off the first every Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists event in PGH, April 8,9, 10! You should come but if you can’t, you can follow our preservation shenanigans here.

XO!

Bernice

 

Buffalo Spree Covers Buffalove Development’s Preservation Win!

Buffalo Spree Covers Buffalove Development’s Preservation Win! (<— Link!)

This is an exciting piece for us. It launches our newest purchase – a 1860’s brick cottage that we rescued from the brink of demolition. Jason saw it on the preservation agenda because they asked for a demolition permit – citing that nothing about it was historic. (What!?!?!) This 1860’s brick cottage is 1500 square feet of awesome. After a series of negotiations, the purchase price totaled $1. It has a new roof, a new furnace and it is gutted, exposing the brick and the 150 years of changes overtime. Even in its gutted state, it’s a beauty. Its layout is simple and its size is manageable. Unlike our other properties, this one will be our home!

Buffalo Spree will be doing a set of articles on this house, following our rehab process to explain how preservation and energy efficiency will come together to provide a rehab that is cost effective, forward thinking and inspiring for others as they venture through the rehab process! Thank you to Gwen Ito and the Buffalo Spree crew for covering this story.

You can check the article out here: http://www.buffalospree.com/Buffalo-Spree/January-2014/Developing-Radle-and-Wilson/

The Atlantic Cities Covers Buffalo, BYP & The Vacancy Vortex!

The Atlantic Cities Covers Buffalo, BYP & The Vacancy Vortex!

Wow!! I am shocked, excited and honored that Kaid Benfield wanted to write about what we are doing here in Buffalo. My heart exploded when I saw this article in the Atlantic Cities blog. Coming from an urban planner – this blog is the mecca of planning/urbanism & cities. I literally read it every morning.

If you want to know more about the “vacancy vortex” – check out my TED X Buffalo talk from Oct. 2013. 

You can read the article here: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/housing/2013/11/saving-neighborhoods-vacancy-vortex/7572/

“While I tend to agree with the adage that “the greenest building is the one already built,” as long as the context is or can be made supportive, I’m impressed that Radle and Wilson’s commitment to sustainability doesn’t end there. They also want to make sure their rehabs are constructed with green principles in mind. ” From BuffaLove’s website:

“BuffaLove Development aims to bring together elements of historic preservation and sustainability into each project through the use of good materials, design and community direction. We are taking a comprehensive approach to our neighborhood by investing in three areas – vacant lots, singles and doubles, and mixed use anchor buildings. We know that with a comprehensive approach, we will inspire growth, create jobs and strengthen our neighborhood … Our vision is to rehab each building in a fashion that mixes preservation and energy efficiency while maintaining affordability and comfort.”

“Green’s article for the Times suggests that what BuffaLove is doing is part of a trend of microdevelopment, at least in Buffalo, citing several additional individuals and companies doing preservation-and-rehab on a small scale, but reaching critical mass when aggregated.  “Just coming out of the woodwork,” was the way one seasoned developer put it to Green.  That sounds fantastic to me – this is an approach, and a philosophy, well worth rooting for.”

This post originally appeared on the NRDC’s Switchboard blog, an Atlantic partner site.

Kaid Benfield is special counsel for urban solutions at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Law, co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, and author of several books on cities, smart growth and sprawl. All posts »

NYTimes Covers Buffalove Development & other “micro developers” in Buffalo, NY

NYTimes Coverage!! Small Developers, Big Dreams in Buffalo!

The NYTimes article that covers micro developers in Buffalo is officially online and in print!!

We are thrilled to be a part of the larger “micro developer” movement in Buffalo, NY. If you want to contribute towards making Buffalo better – here are two campaigns you can donate to. One is our pet project – Paint Out Loud!! (LINK HERE) 

You can read the NYTimes article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/07/garden/small-scale-developers-big-dreams.html?_r=0

From the NYTimes article: ”Passionate and preservation-minded, Ms. Radle and Mr. Wilson both have degrees in urban planning and are emblematic of a particular wave of development here. Buying on a small scale, they and their peers are perhaps best described as microdevelopers, rehabbing derelict properties to rent and perhaps eventually sell in an attempt to save houses from demolition and preserve a neighborhood or two. In so doing, they are attempting to shore up the city’s long, slow decline since the population and jobs began leaking away more than a half-century ago.”

Thank you to Penelope Green for taking a day to listen to us, hang out, go to the auction! This is such a great article for Buffalo’s “post industrial” image. Photo credit: Tony, a lovable NYTimes photographer from Newburg.

The NYTimes snapped this shot of Jason and Bernice outside of 351 Massachusetts Avenue.
The NYTimes snapped this shot of Jason and Bernice outside of 351 Massachusetts Avenue.

The Story of My Ted X Buffalo Experience: Before, During & After.

I wanted to give you all a little insight to my personal experiences surrounding the Ted X Buffalo event. Sometimes I may seem like a happy robot online – I always try to maintain an image that is positive, kick ass and ambitious. While 99% of the time that is true, the other 1% usually stays quiet. However, since TED was such an emotional roller coaster for me, I figured I would write about it on my personal blog. Here is my personal take of the before, during and after of the whole event.

First of all, Ted X Buffalo is a really inspiring event for anyone and everyone. If you haven’t been to Ted X Buffalo, you have to go!!

Leading up to Ted X Buffalo, I was going INSANE. Ted X Buffalo is a BIG DEAL. Stressed to the max, super anxious and cranky would have best described the week leading up to the talk…  Poor Jason,  he was so supportive despite my craziness. I will never forget when I  exploded in tears because he couldn’t help me and I was running out of time to cut out heart bombs.  I felt the pressure to be GREAT, not just good, which really added to the stress. And of course, most people finalize their TED talk about 3 months before the event and… my talk finally came together about 3 weeks prior. Cramming in all the info in 12 minutes was a serious hurdle. Every suggestion from my friends literally made my head explode just thinking about where to put it into the talk. The hardest challenge in preparing for the talk was doing the talk over and over again because each talk literally took all my energy for at least an hour, making the amount of practicing times very limited. Practicing was literally exhausting.

The day of Ted X Buffalo, I unintentionally had to rely on my brain only. I didn’t bring notes to review backstage! (It was probably for the best…lol)  Even two minutes before I went on, I was standing backstage holding a giant heart with the words “Preservation is Sexy” on it…. with no real plan as to when or how I was going to use it. “Whatever happens, happens….there is no turning back now”, I said to myself.  But when I got up there,  it all flowed out the way I wanted it. The lights weren’t too bright and the giant flashing  red timer didn’t even phase me. I didn’t forget a slide, mumble my words or blank out. At the end of the day, my heart bombs & vacancy vortex TED X talk went off way better than I could have ever imagined it.  Having 400 people put hearts over their heads while I held up a “Preservation is Sexy” heart was super fun! Of course there will always be things to add, changes you wish you made but I am happy that it was clear, concise and inspiring. The best part came afterwards; the influx of texts, calls, tweets, message and emails of support that came from my friends from across the globe- all who had taken the time to watch my talk via live stream online… it was easily one of the best feelings ever.

I found myself in awe of my surroundings the entire day. The audience was super responsive and the speakers nailed it. The Ted X planning crew ROCKED – everything went off perfectly.  I had the best conversations with people who inspire me to learn more and live harder. I bonded with the other TED speakers and found myself appreciative and honored to be included in the small group of Ted X Buffalo speakers. I didn’t even want to fall asleep later that night because I didn’t want the day to be over… a feeling which I haven’t felt in a long time.

The TED event made me realize a few things to add to my talk – a great friend mentioned that comparing rehab versus demolition costs would be helpful in my case for preservation and another suggested that I add a few more photos. Also, I realized the need to actually record my power points presentations on preservation so they can be used in the future. If I want more people to know about the vacancy vortex, I have to get the information ready and out to the world, right?

Lastly, as I write this, I am sitting in Nantucket – a magical island of historic preservation, boats and dreaminess. All that stress from TED made my 6 day get away even better. After days of hanging with family, playing in sand and exploring the island via moped, I am recharged and excited to get back to Buffalo to work on preservation projects, building rehabs and energy efficiency projects!

That basically wraps up my entire Ted X Buffalo experience. Sometimes I feel like a happy robot when I am online and hopefully this gives you a little insight to my thinking, my emotions and my approach to life. 🙂

My personal Ted X Buffalo video has yet to come out but here is a photo from Tuesday’s TED X Buffalo Event. You can watch the long version of the video which includes several presenters, including my presentation here.  I start at about 35 min in!

Please check out http://www.tedxbuffalo.com for all the presentations, they were all very fun and inspiring.

http://new.livestream.com/tedxbuffalo2013/events/2425305/videos/32294489

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The Vacancy Vortex – In a Nut Shell.

I will be presenting at TED X Buffalo tomorrow about preservation, the vacancy vortex and heart bombs.

I wanted to write a simple post to explain the Vacancy Vortex to you… although it is one of the most complex issues I have ever experienced and trying to explain it is very hard.

If you see a house that is vacant, I want you to assume that it is wanted. Then realize that it is just stuck in the “process” which we call the Vacancy Vortex.  The process is often so difficult to navigate, it can push potential owners away very quickly – if you are lucky enough to get that far. Often times it take knowing someone like Jason or I just to understand how to begin to navigate this process  – there is no “FAQ” sheet or a simple 5 step process. If you want a building that is vacant, it will take time and resources to track down the owner, figure out what the issues are and to finally, purchase it. BUT! When you succeed, you will find yourself owning a great house that you probably bought dirt cheap. 

A great example of the vortex is this. in 2012, I tried to buy a dollar house on the West Side. It was a beautiful Italianate house with great historic detail (windows, doors and staircase). It was owned by the City of Buffalo and had someone just put up a tarp or put tar on the roof, it would have avoided the roof leak that basically destroyed the entire side of the house, causing thousands of dollars in damage. The house was uninsurable, not financable and was trashed on the inside – all hurdles that scared the hell out of me. Looking back on it, had I known what I know now, I would not have turned down the offer! But in the heat of the moment, we left it to someone else. (Good news, it has since been purchased! – You can read about the story here!!)

Some potential reasons the house is vacant may include one or many of the following reasons:  back taxes, liens, owner death, owner is holding on because it is cheap to hold and wants to do nothing with it, housing violations, city owned, not City owned but the owner is no where to be found, no financing for rehab available, no housing insurance, no phone number or address for the current owner on file… and the list goes on and on. The longer the house sits – the more damage it gets. The vacancy crisis is real in Buffalo but the more we all know, the better advocates we become for getting the houses back on the tax rolls – not turning them into vacant lots that become havens for trash and are worth pennies. 

BYP (Buffalo’s Young Preservationists) is focused on many initiatives however, the vacancy vortex often takes the prime spot. We are always boarding up buildings, cleaning out community buildings and repairing doors/holes/windows for owners who cannot afford to do so. Our few hundred dollars goes pretty far – far enough to buy materials and get the job done simply. Every couple hundred dollars we spend, we save building owners thousands. It is a simple step that we take to be proactive and to help out our neighborhoods. 

Lastly, I want to thank many people (David Torke, Jennifer & Brendan at the City, Puma, Chris, Jason & ALL) who have helped me understand this process a little better. This is by no means something new but now that the giant landmarks (FLW, Guaranty, Shea’s!) are saved, we can focus on understanding this process and helping to revitalize our neighborhoods!

-Bernice

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BYPers gather together to clean out a house on the West Side of Buffalo.

 

Buffalove Development Progress at 351 Massachusetts Ave.

Hi!

20130303-090929.jpgI have spent sometime blogging about our progress at 351 Massachusetts Ave, a single family house located on the West Side of Buffalo. When we bought it, we honestly thought it could be a goner! However, given that we are preservation focused, we saw through the deterioration, the water leaks, the crumbling foundation and that giant blocks of cascading ice on the interior of the house. Today, we now know that buildings can rise from near death with a lot of love, time and energy… and with a very good “preservation friendly” contractor to guide you.

Here is our story. Stay tuned for more!