To answer BRO commentor elmdog's question, "When is Allen Street going to get an aesthetic makeover?", I have a few updates to share. In two or three years from now Allen Street will hopefully have an entirely new look and feel. In fact, the infrastructure improvements to the street could possibly be some of the most progressive that Buffalo has seen to date.
There have been a number of issues holding the streetscape improvements back, and those include outdated utilities that need to be replaced under Allen Street, including water mains and mechanicals. That alone is one of the reasons that the street has not been repaved as of late. The City is waiting to combine this work so as not to disrupt the street more than it has to.
A comprehensive plan for the district needs be in place, meaning that the arterials must also be considered. The Metro Rail station, which was once considered as a connector to the Medical Campus for auto traffic, is yet to be finalized - a change of plans and designs (potentially moving in more of a pedestrian oriented manner) would impact the dynamic of Allen Street and traffic flow to and from The Medical Campus.
Therefore, a new pedestrian friendly commercial district is in the works - one that will hopefully incorporate shared space design concepts similar to the ones seen in this post. The vision lead image is one that a number of Allentown advocates have been pushing for, and apparently The City has been open to ideas such as bringing back the cobblestone street, and creating curbs that are flush with the cobblestone. If implemented, this would allow the commercial district to transition from what it is today, to a more pedestrian and bike-friendly district, where a seamless flow of activity would transcend street and sidewalk.
Toward the west end of Allentown, where Allen Street meets Days Park, there are potential plans to reconsider what the connection (or lack thereof) might one day look like. At this point this small park parcel is lifeless, and acts more like a harsh buffer between the park and the commercial district. If this was to become a more appealing area, then that would lead to potential activities springing up, such as curbside entertainment, or even a market stand of some sort. The Allentown Association is pushing heavily to bring in a top-level landscape architect to ensure that the overall result becomes a streetscape that seconds as a great public space.
If both the east and west ends of Allen Street are redesigned to promote a pedestrian friendly feel, combined with the seamless streetscape features, Allentown would surely become more of a destination, rather than a place that continues to muddle by.
^Image: A shared street proposal - Willamette Street in Eugene Oregon | Inset: A dense Mifflin neighborhood with a woonerf connecting it to the campus and Capitol
Key people who have been involved in the Allen Street project:
Adam Sokol (committee chair)
Matt Moscati (design)
Brian Gould (political outreach)
City of Buffalo
John Bidell (engineering)
Brian Higgins has been the key person in obtaining funding, and the project has received support from the Mayor and Common Council as well