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Allen Street apartment project is still on hold

May Wang will have to wait a little longer before she can proceed with her plans for a new apartment building on Allen Street.

The Buffalo Preservation Board last week delayed a vote on her proposal to retain as much of the historic facade of 15 Allen as possible, demolish the rest, and rebuild a new three-story structure in its place. They liked the $1.7 million plan for the building's face, but objected to the gray fiber-cement-panel look for the rest of it, and directed the architect to come back with new colors.

"The building screams modern in a historic district," said Board Chairman Paul McDonnell, referring to Allentown. "The color palette is not appropriate for historic Allentown."

Wang originally wanted to renovate the existing two-story, red-brick building, but changed direction after she was unable to secure historic tax credits to make the project work. Board members had initially balked at the demolition plan when it was first proposed for the entire structure, but in late March they approved the concept of retaining the facade and tearing down the rest, as long as it could be done.

However, a recent structural report from Siracuse Engineers threw doubt on whether the front wall could be safely stabilized and shored up during construction because of the way it was built. The engineer, Cathy Styn, also cited deterioration of the first-floor facade around the storefronts.

Instead, according to documents submitted this month by architect Adam Sokol, the project now envisions dismantling the facade, but retaining all visible materials that are in good condition or could be restored, including brick, cast stone trim, cornices, banding, door and window jambs, sills, headers and the original second-floor windows. The rest would be demolished, but the salvaged elements would be incorporated into a new facade that would be constructed as similar as possible to the old.

That was fine with the board, though the new color wasn't. "The treatment of the façade is impeccable," McDonnell said. "A lot of attention to detail."

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