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Elmwood Design Standards: Laws Ten Years In the Making

In ten years, what will Elmwood Avenue look like? If you think about it, it wasn’t all that long that there was no Forever Elmwood (now Elmwood Village Association). There was no funded entity that constantly looked out for the betterment of the commercial district. Since the formation of the organization back in the early ’90’s, group members have been fighting to clean the street, remove graffiti, replace trees, organize events, market commercial spaces, attract new members and do whatever it takes to strengthen the district.

In all of that time, it has been a goal of the organization to not only draft design standards and guidelines, but to see to it that they are followed. It’s easy to request that a developer not build a single-storey cookie cutter box (plop architecture). It’s hard to ensure that the request is taken seriously and adhered to. In the past, the association could merely voice its opinions regarding design standards. In theory, those standards should accommodate both developer and neighborhood through best practice scenarios. Unfortunately, we have still seen countless projects move forward with total disregard to said un-enforced guidelines. That is until now.

As of yesterday, the Buffalo Common Council has unanimously approved the Elmwood Village Design Standards. Now the Elmwood Village Association will have some weight behind their words. In the past I would call Director Justin Azzarella regarding a construction project (or demolition), only to be told that the association was bypassed so as not to interfere with development. It’s been a frustrating battle – one that Common Council is now backing one hundred percent. This is a big victory for the association and a big boost for the Elmwood District.

Written by WCPerspective


Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

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