A stretch of Seneca Street will be getting a makeover thanks to funding from the Larking Center of Commerce and National Grid. The improvements between Van Rensselaer and Larkin Streets will extend the streetscape upgrades that were completed in 2010 between Van Rensselaer and Fillmore Avenue in the Larkin District. Planning is also underway to extend the streetscaping along Seneca Street to downtown.
The first phase of the Larkin District streetscape improvement project included new streets, wider sidewalks, bike lanes, curbs, landscaping, lighting, benches, bus shelters and crosswalks over a half-mile stretch of Seneca Street between Fillmore Avenue and Van Rensselaer. Traffic calming measures included reducing the travels lanes from four to two, curb bump-outs, and patterned concrete crosswalks. That $1.5 million project was funded by First Niagara Bank, the City of Buffalo, and Larkin Development Group.
The new work along Seneca Street’s 700 block will front the Larkin Center of Commerce. The mammoth former warehouse at 701 Seneca Street is being renovated to house a mix of retail, office, and light industrial tenants. The 1.3 million sq.ft. building is owned by Jim Cornell, Peter Krog and Gordon Reger. The trio has invested over $15 million into the building makeover and recently signed M&T Bank to occupy 76,000 sq.ft. of office space. According to the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, an unnamed company is close to finalizing a lease for 40,000 sq.ft. of office space to bring an additional 200 employees to the building.
Improvements funded by the $1.1 million project include sidewalk reconstruction, new curbs, trees and landscaping, street lighting, striping, new street signs, a pedestrian-activated signal, and storefronts, entrance modifications and overhead doors in the Larkin Center of Commerce Building. National Grid is funding $250,000 of the work as part of its commitment to the Buffalo Building Reuse Project. Wendel is designing the work.
Wendel is also working with property owners along Seneca Street between the Larkin District and downtown on a multi-block streetscaping project. The “Seneca Street Greenway Connector” would include landscaping, lighting, sidewalk, and bicycle and pedestrian improvements along Seneca Street, Michigan Avenue and Swan Street. That project is still in the concept stage.