Savarino Companies

Fabled Stable Being Reborn as Housing

Buffalo News

10/25/2011

It started as a livery and horse stable in the late 1800s.

At one point, it also served as a storage building for cars.

And it even was a gas station once.

But on Monday, the White Bros. Livery & Boarding Stable at 429 Jersey St. was on its way to becoming affordable apartments.

Neighbors, developers, engineers and elected officials gathered at the West Side site to break ground for the White's Livery Apartments project designed to convert the vacant historic building into 14 units of affordable housing for people at or below the community's median income. Twelve of the apartments will be one-bedroom units; the others will have two bedrooms each.

Construction is expected to be completed by September 2012, said developer Sam Savarino, who purchased the building and came up with a $3.3 million plan to save it from demolition more than three years ago.

A former owner had allowed the landmark to deteriorate. Bricks started falling off, and one of the walls buckled in the summer of 2008, forcing the evacuation of nearby neighbors due to fears that the entire structure would cave. Jersey Street was closed to traffic as remaining exterior walls were braced and stabilized.

Since 2004, Catherine Herrick has lived on Summer Street at the rear of the building and is one of the neighbors who worked to stop the emergency demolition ordered by the City. The community objected to having it torn down and left as a vacant lot.

Herrick said she's happy the building will be put to use but wishes something would have been done before it fell into such disrepair.

"I'm glad to see something happen. My feeling is that six, eight years ago, the owner of the building was irresponsible, and the people who are in charge of holding him accountable" never did, Herrick said as she watched monday's ceremony. ". . . by the time a major piece broke off the building, not much was left of it."

"Demolition had begun, and a lot [of the structure] was pulled down before" the process was halted, she said.

Nevertheless, Herrick and other neighbors are looking forward to the latest incarnation of the Livery Stable.

"The wall is still standing, and the building will have the same footprint. It looks like it will be a great building and a great addition to the community," she said.

Plans call for the first floor to provide indoor parking, while the second and third floors will include the 14 apartments.

Developers will keep the original brick front and back walls of the stable, along with its three-story elevator tower, to be incorporated into a newly constructed main building. The facade was intact above the second floor and includes the original White Bros. sign and horse head emblems. The third-floor facade will be rebuilt to mimic its original arched windows and twin peaked towers.

New York State Homes and Community Renewal provided about $2 million to the construction project. The City of Buffalo spent $574,000 to stabilize the building after sections began to crumble in 2008 and committed an additional $1.1 million for development. And the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York made $239,000 available, Savarino said. The project also received bridge financing from Five Star Bank until some of the pledged funds come through.

The business, founded by Albert and Elijah White, got its start in 1881 on nearby 13th Street and relocated to Jersey Street in 1892.

The stable, located just off Richmond Avenue, was considered one of Buffalo's finest livery establishments and in its heyday sheltered about 35 horses and an assortment of stylish coaches.

Mayor Byron W. Brown, Niagara District Common Council Member David A. Rivera, State Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy and Linda Chiarenza, Executive Director of West Side Neighborhood Housing Services, were among the officials who attended Monday's groundbreaking.

by
Deidre Williams



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