A critical east-west corridor at the southern end of downtown could be getting a contextual makeover. The 'Cobblestone District Connector Initiative' has been formulated as a public/private effort to improve and enhance Perry Street between Main Street and Michigan Avenue and then south down Michigan Street to link up with the improvements in place at Michigan and Ohio Streets. It would help provide an important connection centered around Canalside - First Niagara Center, the Cobblestone District, the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, light rail, and the Sabres' planned HARBORcenter project - with the outer harbor.
^^click to enlarge^^
The primary goal of the project is to enhance the visual appeal and experience of the corridor and to link the areas entertainment and retail connections. Design highlights:
- · Widen the pedestrian corridors by shifting parking away from the sidewalk in some locations and using unique and sculptural screening elements to buffer the lots. The screening elements would be reminiscent of the area's industrial past.
· Provide unique and consistent catenary street lighting to visually reinforce linkages between destinations.
· Use artistic lighting accents and aerial lighting canopies over crosswalks to highlight key nodes.
· Install curving and colorful pavement design to evoke a waterfront theme and allow for seating opportunities, landscape buffer treatments and trees.
· Plant a double rows of trees on each side of the street to create a canopied walkway with permeable concrete and structural soils beneath to establish desirable growing conditions.
· Use cobblestone materials for benches, planter curbs, and other features to unify the look of the street with the rest of the Cobblestone District.
· Improve street aesthetics and safety with new safe pedestrian crossings, line-striped crosswalks, and pavement overlays, including well-defined and buffered bicycle lanes.
· Utilize wayfinding signage to provide directions to pedestrians, drivers and cyclers.
The project has been submitted to the City by a consortium of interests in the district including Seneca Gaming, the Sabres, Savarino Companiess. and HSBC Bank. Seneca Gaming has been funding preliminary design work utilizing a local design team led by Cobblestone tenant Watts Architecture & Engineering. Savarino Companies conceived the initiative and has been organizing the effort. It has had input from many stakeholders including the City, Empire State Development Corporation/Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, and area property owners.
It is anticipated that wayfinding and interpretive elements will be consistent with those being formulated for the Ohio Street Corridor improvements
. When completed, this will provide an easy and accessible pedestrian and bicycle link from Canalside to the planned improvements on Ohio Street and the outer harbor. It will also integrate with the casino improvements so that casino patrons have easier access to Main Street and Canalside.
Construction is expected to be in the $2 to $3 million range and could start as soon as late next year.
The street car routing would mainly utilize the former DL&W City Branch right-of-way from Moore Street to the Buffalo River which is currently owned by the NFTA. From Moore Street to Canalside, the streetcar would run in the streets to connect the trolley line to Canalside. Stone Consulting has released the first draft of a feasibility study recommending a loop through the Cobblestone District that could include either Perry or Scott Streets.