Submission by Lou Bordonaro:
The horrible crime of this past weekend has somehow made its way a half mile up Main St. and into the Chippewa Entertainment District. With growing public concern over safety in Downtown Buffalo, and local leaders and business owners calling for changes to be made, several solutions have been offered. Though the idea to prohibit anyone under 21 from entering Chippewa St. has its doubters, it would have less of an impact than changing closing times throughout the county. The thought of closing off a street and subjecting patrons to searches seems unreasonable and not feasible. But there is a model we can emulate.
Fourth Street Live! is the entertainment district equivalent of Chippewa in Louisville, KY. Owned and developed by the Cordish Company, it is located four blocks from the Ohio River and Waterfront Park. Designed by the Bravura Corporation and completed in 2004, it is one block long and offers over 20 restaurants, bars, and retail stores. The district backs up to a large parking ramp with an entrance leading directly into the heart of Fourth Street. On top of that, the entire street is covered by a glass roof, something that would be nice to have during a Buffalo winter.
While Buffalo has too unique of an identity to copy Fourth Street too closely, and the idea of putting a roof over Chippewa would surely draw opposition, there are certain ideas that can be drawn from Fourth Street Live! Fourth Street is open to all types of traffic between W. Muhammad Ali Blvd. and W. Liberty St. during the day. However each evening at 9PM, vehicle traffic is blocked off and the entertainment district comes alive. Each end of the street is closed off and entry is possible through controlled entry points manned by security personnel who check identification and allow entry to those 21 and over. The same happens with the other entries through the food court and parking garage. Identification is checked a second time when entering bars and clubs, and police are present to maintain order in addition to security. The police and security even go so far as to enforce a dress code: no backwards caps, no baggy clothing which could facilitate concealing a weapon. Closing the street to vehicle traffic also helps to decongest the area at night by opening the street to foot traffic. Though Fourth Street Live! still faces some of the issues associated with an entertainment district, the atmosphere is far less chaotic than what is often seen on Chippewa.
Certainly there are many things the Chippewa District can take from Fourth Street Live!, however following their method of security is a small step worth looking into and can have a large impact on the security and order of the area.