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Avenging Bad Urban Planning Decisions

How did so many bad urban planning decisions get made in this city, and what can we do to avoid them in the future? I would think that first and foremost we need progressive leaders who can look at these types of images and decide right from wrong. No? At what stage in the game (Buffalo’s history) did decision-makers stop caring about the delicate urban fabric that makes a city great? Thankfully, most of Elmwood Avenue is intact and is recognized as a top tier neighborhood, despite some pretty serious design blunders like the ones we see here. To think that there were once architecturally significant buildings where ‘Blight Aid’ and the rest of these eyesores now stand is heartbreaking (corner of Bryant). Thankfully, one of these three-corner atrocities will (God willing) be avenged in coming years (see post).

Despite the fact that this corner has been exposed to KFC atrocities, parking lot sprawl and bland box butchery, a resurgence has been taking place in the form of The Wine Thief, KARL Salon, and Tabree. Is there a way of continuing to capitalize on these successes, including the recent triumvirate team play by Frizlen, Johnson, and Ferdman on the KFC corner? Years ago, Blight Aid was disallowed from expanding on the northwest corner. Because the community rallied to save the houses to the south, the avenue will be stuck with this Rx turd for years to come. And hopefully, some day, the neighborhood and Children’s Hospital will come to an expansion agreement that will allow for development of the northeast lot via a progressive developer (see this vision). If and when that day occurs, will this city allow for a one-storey building to be built as it has in the past? Will Elmwood Association guidelines be adhered to? Have we learned from our past mistakes? How will design decisions be made, not just on Elmwood, but throughout the city?

Once again, this constructive rendering, produced by Architectural Resources, was pulled from an Urban Design Literacy Project called ‘Why Elmwood Works’ – commissioned by Forever Elmwood years ago. Like the previously posted D&K Building on Grant Street, it is not hard to imagine what progressive design standards and zoning codes would do for our commercial (and residential) districts. It’s a shame that we’ve let unhindered, unthoughtful corporate and political design decisions outweigh what is, in the end, best for our city’s urban fabric. In a day and age when we are still confronting with ‘in your face’ blunders such as the one we recently saw proposed on our waterfront (see post), how can we best plan to redevelop key commercial parcels that we have lost? Who is looking out for our best interests? Should The City be sitting down and meeting with property owners to discuss the potential of key real estate parcels that could ultimately add to the vibrancy of a district such as Elmwood? Instead of continually being passive, isn’t it time to get active? When do you say, “Enough is enough”?  

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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