An Ellicott Street parking lot could be the site of a mixed-use project. The City will soon seek development ideas for the full-block lot located between the bus terminal and library.
With 2.5 acres and 360 feet of Ellicott Street frontage, the publicly-owned site is big enough to accommodate the structured parking that Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps and the City seem intent on building along with other uses. A Request for Proposals will see if there is any developer interest in the property. It is expected that the City and developer will enter into an agreement where a parking ramp on the site will be publicly-financed while the selected firm constructs offices, residences, retail space or other uses.
A study completed in 2008 by parking consultants Desman Associates recommended a 1,477 space parking ramp be built on the lot along with three others downtown. Based on the $50/month parking rate at the 375 space lot currently, there doesn’t appear to be significant demand for parking along the Ellicott Street corridor. That could change.
The City wants to replace the 1,000 parking spaces that will be “lost” when the Main Place parking ramp reverts to private ownership in 2019.
If Rocco Termini is able to pull together complicated financing packages for the restoration of the Lafayette Hotel and AM&A’s department store, 190 new residences, 157 hotel rooms, office space and traffic-generating restaurants and banquet space will open on nearby blocks. Plans for a mix of uses on the lot would mesh well with Termini’s plans for retail space in the basement level of the Lafayette Hotel fronting Ellicott Street.
The Warehouse Lofts project is the lone bright spot on the unpleasant two block stretch of Ellicott between N. Division and the library. Proper development of the parking lot site would help link Erie Community College, the bus terminal and the baseball stadium on the south to the promising AM&A’s and Lafayette projects and the emerging residential district to the north.
There are arguably better ‘shovel-ready’ downtown locations more appropriate for mixed-use development. At the end of the day, the market will determine if the site is ready for an infill project. One suspects that the City will get a ramp built on the property, with or without additional uses. Fingers crossed the process plays out better than the La Riviere RFP debacle in Waterfront Village.