From a girl's point of view:
Yes, you should befriend her. But not the kind of "gay-man friendship" (don't be her girlfriend) but the kind of closest friend relationship. Make her know she can trust you with anything and when she's ready she'll make you know you can start hitting on her.
Just please make sure it's not just the lust of a dude who hasn't seen a woman in 10 years, cus you would be a son of a ... to break her heart in that way.