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Streetscaping Trend Continues: Perry Street Makeover Proposed

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.


perry2.jpgperry street.jpg

^^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.

perry1a.jpgperry1b.jpg

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. 
perry4.jpg
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.
perry6.jpg
Construction is expected to be in the $2 to $3 million range and could start as soon as late next year. 
That’s not all. Perry Street is a possible alignment for a proposed Heritage Street Car line that would connect Canalside to the Heritage Discovery Center museum project at the former Buffalo Color site on Elk Street. 
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.
heritage streetcar.jpg

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Written by WCPerspective

WCPerspective

Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

1880 posts
  • BuffaloEmigrant

    Speaking of the Perry/Fulton area, when I was down there last week, I noticed that there was some construction/interior work being done at the old Fulton Academy/Opportunity Center. Just wondering if you had any insight into what was going on there?

  • Up and coming

    MUCH NEEDED!!!!

  • BuffaloBobZ

    comparitively inexpensive, improves the look and feel, partners with local business’s, and would be merged with the Ohio street corridoor when thats finished…
    Not sure there is anything not to like about this (except my use of a double negative).
    Lets get the ball rolling!

  • JimB

    The historic street car route is an interesting concept. I’m curious as to the possibility of a practical street car or even metro rail link to the Larkin District. The NFTA supposedly commissioned a study last fall to look into Metro-Rail expansion. To no surprise, we have yet to hear anything about it…

  • hamp

    Glad to see that Perry Street will not be blocked off from Canalside by the new Harbor Center development.

  • flyguy

    Yes Please ( :

  • Buffaboy

    Hopefully this causes the big sheet of parking to get ripped up and replaced with something else, something meaningful. It looks suburban and like an ugly shopping mall lot.

  • schvanstuchen

    who owns those empty lots? Sabres? Nice parcel for Paladinos project that was rejected.

  • 300miles

    This looks great and really frames the cobblestone area as the next place for investment.
    This kind of infrastructure development at cobblestone *should* have happened 15 years ago after they build the new Arena. But better late than never.

  • davvid

    This looks a little too messy with too many competing quirky elements and materials. What is with the irregular heights on the LED “Visual Screen” and the wavy sidewalk pattern? Also, this catenary lighting design seems to require even more infrastructure than a typical street lamp. It would make more sense it left the streetscape lamppost-free like the precedent photo.
    I think the direction with street-scape design should be toward simple and efficient open space, not clutter. Look at the photographs of catenary lighting precedents. We do not see any other cluttering elements at the street level. If we must have painted colorful lines drawn on our streets in Buffalo for traffic, lets at least make the rest of the streetcape as simple and sophisticated as possible.

  • davvid

    Also, catenary lighting makes sense when its part of a system that provides power to streetcars like the precedent photos. In this design its just an arbitrary design element.

  • southsidejoey

    Ok, with the risk of garnering hilarious, well-deserved feedback/criticism, let me put this out there. (Also, I am well aware that the Bills have been quiet on this subject and are moving to LA anyway, but I have to get this idea off my mind)
    I have always thought that the former Republic Steel and Buffalo Color sites (labeled “Riverbend” on the drawing) would make a good location for a new football stadium. This would link Canalside and the Outer Harbor to the river and South Buffalo, with access from the 190, Route 5, as well as South Park Ave. The drawing above of the trolley loop also brings up the idea of access via train to this location.
    I’m sure the biggest hurdle of developing this site would be environmental, but it’s in the city, on the water and would be a great reuse of a former industrial site. There has already been some brownfield remediation done on Elk St.
    Hey, and if the Bills leave, we can get a CFL team!

  • WhatRUSmoking

    Totally agree. Why do we need the sidewalk “to evoke a waterfront theme?” How about letting the waterfront be the waterfront and have a normal sidewalk that lets people walk in a straight line? Maybe then they could see the waterfront and their surroundings instead being on constant alert so they don’t run into trees. Put the cobblestones in the steets where they belong (maybe at crosswalks) instead of in the benches and planters, etc. This is just a bunch of gimmicks thrown together and called “design.”

  • Malone_C

    great idea. I would like to see Buffalo become the home to the first trillion dollar football stadium. How awesome would that be, we could combine a movie theater, outdoor garden, maybe bring in companies like GE and Boeing to build factories there. It’s all seems so incredibly easy.
    We need to leadership who will endorse this type of progressive thinking.

  • buffknut

    At the risk of many thumbs down, but where does the money come from for these proposed projects? I’m all for making improvements to Buffalo, but whenever I see the term “public/private” my brain immediately translates that to “already overtaxed taxpayer”. I mean, what exactly is the financial portion that will actually come out of private pockets (and from non-subsidized private pockets at that)?
    Given that every level of government is actually broke and worse, in hock past their eyeballs, this means the “public” (aka “already overtaxed taxpayer”)will have to borrow this money to pay for it.

  • BuffaloEmigrant

    That’ll go well with the Navy Island proposal.
    Seriously the best place in the Old First Ward for a stadium would be where the Perry Projects are now.

  • 300miles

    “Public/Private” projects hit the taxpayer less that just regular “Public” projects do. And any street paving or sidewalk replacement project is going to use public funds, whether that’s Canalside/Cobblestone or Transit Rd or Niagara Falls Boulevard.

  • Jay D

    The sidewalk just has a wavy design element in it, you can still walk in a straight line.

  • sbrof

    Agreed with Davvid above. This has 2 or 3 too many elements.
    The catenary is only necessary when the width of streets don’t aesthetically or functionally allow for poles. Hence they they are in Europe a lot because the narrow roads and close buildings necessitates the catenary system for lighting. It actually looks very cluttered and messy most of the time.
    But to put catenary lighting supported by poles is faky-historic to the max.
    What happened to lighter, quicker, cheaper. How about taking 205 of the fluff stuff out of this and put the money into fixing the sidewalks \ crosswalks elsewhere around downtown.

  • BuffaloBobZ

    I’m not entirely sure about this project buffknut, but a lot of these types of projects have been funded through the power authority settlement from a few years back (2.5 million a year for 50 years). Like i said, not sure about this specifically.
    I would also bet the Seneca’s are willing to slap down a good portion of it, because they are in a “build good will so we can build the casino” mood… and i say we take advantage of it as long as possible. SAme with Pegula, probably wants the area around his new flagship endevor to look good.

  • Quixote

    it looks like this project is in the queue for normal City infrastucture improvements. It looks like the private “partners” might be paying for the accoutrements and the maintennance. We ought to have more private side initiatives like this.

  • Buffaboy

    Now that is just an absurd and preposterous comment you made, and just plain ol’ immature. A trillion dollars is $1000 BILLION dollars. You could build a Dubai here with that. This proposed stadium by GBSEC is not super-duper expensive, it’s $1.4 billion price tag is just an unusual number that this area has to become acclimated to, even if something like this isn’t build. But it shouldn’t be twisted into a hyperbole.

  • sbrof

    The City is far from broke. They have held flat or lowered the tax rates on both commercial and residential properties since 2006.
    http://www.city-buffalo.com/files/1_2_1/Mayor/2012-13RecommendedBudget/2012-13_Recommended_Budget_Overview.pdf
    They are also sitting a $35M surplus with our debt burden declining.
    Not that they should go and spend it away but it is nice to see actual investments in infrastructure after so many decades neglect.

  • Buffaboy

    Waterfront is certinaly more realistic. It is practically shovel ready. Ralph only needs to go and a new ownership surrounded by $$$ needs to take over.

  • Buffaloian

    The catenary system is a bit much. The sidewalks, double trees and parking lot buffers are great. Maybe the city can explore using LED standards along with the same LED pole lights that are along the Ellicott linear park to tie everything together. Pretty much do what is happening at Medical Campus but without the six year timeframe 🙂

  • Malone_C

    Think big or go home. The first trillion dollar stadium would put Lackawanna on the map. Just raise taxes on companies, it’s really that easy.

  • Up and coming

    ……because it’s a waste of money.

  • Up and coming

    I could see a whole block of brownstones being built between Mississippi and Baltimore. I think a developer could make a killing there.

  • townline

    The catenary lights are silly and they’ll be ineffective. This location needs new lighting at the sidewalk – they show these located over the street.
    I understand the “cool effect” that catenary lights can have, and they’re sort of trying to show that in the precedent photos – but its not going to work here. The built environment is way to wide open – and with one string of them, you’re not going to have that “light roof” effect that some other places have. Catenary lights are more impactful in tight streets and alleyways. Not wastelands of parking.
    Ditch them for more traditional standards – they can be contemporary design, thats fine – but they should be a more traditional form to illuminate the sidewalk between the casino and the arena.

  • New2Buffalo

    I like the idea of tons of lighting up high and ON THE GROUND where the walkways/crosswalks/bikeways/streets are. We could use more lighting in other spots that already see foot/bike/traffic. Also will like to see lots of those security cameras police use to catch/deter criminals. In general Buffalo/WNY is one of the least lit up cities I’ve lived in. When you drive on the thruways you can barely see the lane markings, especially when it’s raining/snowing.

  • Pubmoney1

    If you look at drawing #2 the catenary lighting is only over the crosswalks and not the length of the street as it shows in the street level renderings. I would think if they are just over the crosswalks they will be more functional than decorative.

  • Pubmoney1

    If you look at drawing #2 the catenary lighting is only over the crosswalks and not the length of the street as it shows in the street level renderings. I would think if they are just over the crosswalks they will be more functional than decorative.

  • Larkin[g Lot]

    Any idea when the sidewalk improvements to Ellicott between the Trico building and Buffalo General will be completed?

  • whatever

    jim>“NFTA supposedly commissioned a study last fall to look into Metro-Rail expansion
    That study is for evaluating future transportation options between Buffalo and the North Campus part of Amherst, including but not limited to possibilities of expanding light rail between those.
    It’s nothing to do with anything for the Larkin District.
    Good coverage about it from the UB newspaper at this link.
    jim>“To no surprise, we have yet to hear anything about it…”
    No surprise because according the last sentence at that link the study was expected to take 18-24 months beginning in March 2012.
    By my math now in October, that means it’s not quite half done and was expected to finish at some time between Sept 2013 and March 2014.

  • No_Illusions

    I there are enough people working at Larkin, it is hardly a waste of money. Especially considering it could help spur development between it and downtown. Mass transit access often raises the appeal of the land surrounding the route.
    It also would offer a convenient way for visitors to get downtown to Larkin.
    This is exactly why a study is needed, to make sure the plan indeed makes sense. So why don’t we hold off until the report is actually released before we start to criticize this idea.

  • grad94

    thank you, whatever. snarky, knee-jerk presumptions of guilt, corruption, incompetence, or bad faith are a poor substitute for intelligence.

  • grad94

    thumbs up on the green bike lane, thumbs down on the wavy sidewalk. wavy sidewalks, in the absence of topography that requires them, are a gimmick. they’ll look pretty pathetic in a few years.

  • Rand503

    Because such a line will cost an enormous amount of money, it’s a waste of money. LIke in the neighborhood of $200 million.
    The only way to justify that cost is if you have many people taking it that it offsets not only the cost of buidling it, but also the enormous costs of maintaining. How many? Probably at least, oh I’d say several million rider per year. We don’t have that many people in the entire region, let alone daily users. It would be cheaper to give every commuter a brand new car than to build a new metro line.
    Another justification is it if spurs several billion dollars of development. Sure, you can say that the Larkin District will be growing by a few tens of millions. But the only proper justification for a metro line is if ITSELF spurs devleopment that would not have otherwise occurred. That’s a pretty tall order, and I don’t see it.
    The only other justification for mass transit is if traffic is so bad, so many cars clogging the Larkin district that if you don’t built it, the current success will choke off any new development. That isn’t happening.
    If public transportation is the issue, buses are cheap and move people pretty darn efficiently. If you want to go first class and built a metro or trolley line, be my guest, but don’t expect everyone to agree to a huge tax hike to pay for it. Question: How much more in taxes are you willing to spend to build this thing, or are you just expecting that everyone else should pay for it?

  • Rand503

    Not if you’re drunk.

  • Rand503

    Overdesigned. Seriously — people are supposed connect a wavy line to the lake? Then they should also have jagged broken lines to evoke the ice boom.
    Sheesh — I think the design firm wants to make a “statement” and add something to their portfolio more than they want something that’s actually good and works for the pedestrian.

  • 300miles

    The same wavy sidewalk pattern was installed at Mutual Park:
    http://rising.wpengine.com/2012/05/buffalo-a-waterfront-transforms.html

  • Travelrrr

    Yeah–and, it looked unfortunate there too. Nothing says rustbelt chic like wavy gravy.
    Less is more, people.

  • Buffaboy

    Geez, am I the only one that looks at pictures anymore? The third picture clearly says, next to the FNC that the pattern is AN EXTENSION OF THE ATRIUM FLOOR! I could be wrong, but it’s in the picture…

  • Up and coming

    How does this get two negative votes? I’d like to hear other ideas people have for this current parking lot.

  • Linksfiend

    Hate the catenary lighting idea. Nothing ruins a view like a bunch of wires strung in every direction.

  • WhyGuy

    So does anybody know why BR deleted the article about the Navy Island Stadium? And then deleted posts asking why it was deleted?

  • Up and coming

    I guess there’s a lot of negative Nancy’s out there with no ideas. Keep Calm and Blog on.

  • LouisTully

    wah, people don’t like my comments. Tough guy like you shouldn’t put so much stock in thumbs-up/down on a blog.

  • LouisTully

    Probably as a courtesy to the poor guy getting ripped apart for an idea, regardless of its merits or lack of. Sure a bush-league move for journalism but this is a blog, and in the words of our psychopath friend WAREHOUSEDWELLER, it’s their blog they can do what they want with it.

  • No_Illusions

    I would just like to put out there that almost every mass transit entity operates at a loss. This includes the NFTA, the MTA in NY, MBTA in Boston, etc.
    This is why a study makes sense; to see if that loss is worth it or not. Light Rail and Trollies are much more cost efficient than a proper subway, especially after considering ridership rates; which any study would estimate.
    Maybe you are right. Maybe it would be more cost efficient to run buses. Let any study speak for itself.
    Personally, I don’t think there would be much demand for a line that only goes to Larkin. A line going to the airport might be justified, and that line could stop at Larkin, and I could see it being popular amongst commuters in the Eastern suburbs to park and ride. Its not just about traffic either. Its also about parking (and the cost of parking), and gas prices.
    The park and ride has been successful at UB South serving, albeit limited due to its location, the Northern Suburbs. A study could easily find it feasible to expand elsewhere with the same results. Also remember we are not talking about building underground here in this instance, but using existing old rail lines.
    As I said let any study speak for itself.

  • Up and coming

    Man, you need to get over the Libo Hound comments, lol. As it’s clear you still harbor a lot of anger towards little ol’ me.

  • LouisTully

    You’re critical of other people’s ideas – such as a business owner’s choice for naming the restaurant THEY own – but cry when people give you a thumb-down for not liking your idea. You see the irony here, right?
    I got 4 thumbs up, btw.

  • davvid

    For what its worth, here are some thoughts. What if they paved the street in cobblestone and found a flatter version of granite paver stone (of the same proportion and with grout) to use for the sidewalk and crosswalks. I’ve seen some brand new cobblestone streets in Dumbo and Tribeca in NYC that look amazing. It references the city’s past while still appearing modern, functional and unfussy. It is the cobblestone district after all. Drop the wave and any other swirls. Drop the catenary lights. The bike lane should probably remain asphalt. Find a simple and pleasant solution for the bench, visual screen and lamppost. Keep a straight buffer of interesting plantings and trees with discrete LED lighting that can be easily removed if the adjacent sites are developed. Maybe add some bike racks, trash cans and recycling cans near the buildings.
    Also, I think its interesting that the sidewalk design changes along Perry street where there are buildings. Wouldn’t you want the sidewalk to be consistent if you are sincerely encouraging future development to build up to the sidewalk? The double row of trees and wavy sidewalk almost suggest that the planners expect the parking lots to remain well into the future or that future development will be set back from the street.

  • PaulBuffalo

    Well said.

  • HapKlein

    I like this route much better!
    We had a pretty good route along SouthPark and on to Main until they built the arena. That cosmetic tower on the west wall pushed Main Street six feet narrower and created two 12 foot lanes along a solid wall and caused bicyclists to have to cross traffic at 90 degrees at Main.
    The path along the west side of the tracks was added later.
    The new route is also in a friendlier architectural atmosphere. sheer walls and blocked vision at the arena always bothered me. If they perceive the route as safer people are drawn to bicycle it. If there is any sense or perception of danger they stay in their cars.
    Like most of these things bicycles were an after thought
    That is going to be the plight of bicycles on the new mixed traffic in Main Street. Where ever the trains stop for passengers squeeze points will be created where cars and bicycles are in conflict with pedestrians.

  • Up and coming

    Good for you, maybe you can put that on your resume? Also, I’m critical when I think somethings stupid, it’s called an opinion. And to your comment remark. I could care less about thumbs up or thumbs down, if the person thumbing me down has a counter argument, or a valid point I could care less. I look forward to a spirited dialogue.

  • LouisTully

    My opinion is that you’re stupid.
    And I gave you a thumbs down.

  • Up and coming

    I agree, the wavy sidewalks look terrible. My plan would be to line the whole street with trees all the way down to Louisiana. Then place the light post that are currently being used at Canalside all the way down too and call it a day. Sometimes simple is better.

  • Up and coming

    Good for you. And considering only one person in this conversation cares about your opinion (ps…it’s not me) I hope you have a great day.

  • LouisTully

    Oh, no. I got two thumbs down!
    You too, slim.

  • BufHky

    Ugh… get over yourself.

  • Up and coming

    I actually gave you an upvote on that. I couldn’t agree more.

  • BuffaloQPublic

    I like the wavy pattern and the creative flair shown. Perhaps a few tweaks might be needed if there’s a little too much of this or that. But, it’s great to see Buffalo getting out of the mundane box.

  • nyc

    I don’t understand the waves. does not respond to context..to say it is a “waterfront setting” is taking the wrong cues for design and it’s the most simplistic of thinking that anything near the waterfront must be wavy. and it’s hard to get perfect curves poured in concrete…will not look very good. and why are the future development sites pushed back from the sidewalk like we need a suburban strip of planting fronting any future building.

  • nyc

    just looking at the design again, it’s so defeatist! as if nothing is going to come of these blocks in the future. kind of depressing.

  • BuffaloQPublic

    Re: I don’t understand the waves. does not respond to context..to say it is a “waterfront setting . . .”
    This may be a drowning thought but my impression is the wavy design is representative of water lapping on a shore.