The long-planned streetscape work along the Genesee Gateway corridor is expected to be underway next spring. Previous plans were for the project to extend from Washington Street to Oak Street. The planned improvements have now been extended one block east to Elm Street to include the section where Catholic Health’s new Administrative Center is located. It will tie into work currently underway on the 500 block of Main Street and future work by the NYS Department of Transportation to calm traffic on the Elm/Oak Corridor two years from now.
Genesee Street improvements will include landscaping, sidewalks, lighting, bump-outs, street resurfacing, and green infrastructure enhancements. The design will be consistent with work undertaken along the 700 block of Main Street.
“It’s been a long time coming,” says Brandye Merriweather, Buffalo Urban Development Corporation’s downtown development coordinator. “We are utilizing multiple funding sources, and the last piece would be an allocation in the City’s 2015 Capital Budget.”
Downtown streetscape improvements are a key component of the Buffalo Building Reuse Project (BBRP) which Mayor Brown has made a multi-year commitment to.
The Buffalo Urban Development Corporation (BUDC), the Office of Strategic Planning, and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership have conducted a rigorous process of setting criteria and selecting eligible projects for the Mayor’s 2015 Capital Budget allocation for the Buffalo Building Reuse Project. This process included input and collaboration with the Department of Public Works, participation of BUDC’s infrastructure consultant, Urban Strategies, as well as a recent meeting of BUDC’s infrastructure working group held on July 31st.
As a result of this process, funding improvements along the Genesee Gateway were recommended as the candidate for the Mayor’s third $750,000 capital budget commitment. The Genesee Gateway is one of the most utilized entry points into downtown and has seen an influx of investment of late including a number of new restaurants, building redevelopment, and the Catholic Health offices.
“We calculated $42 million in recent or planned development along the targeted corridor,” says Merriweather.
The project met the following investment criteria established by the BBRP and the infrastructure working group:
•Connects existing and planned infrastructure investments
•Enhances existing and planned infrastructure investments
•It is a Gateway Corridor with High Visibility and Image
•Identified as a key corridor for investment in the upcoming Infrastructure Master Plan
•Enhances the Pedestrian Experience
•Is proximate to residential development
•Is ready for implementation
Streetscape work along Genesee Street is being funded with $150,000 in previously allocated capital budget funds for design, $1,000,000 in State funding, and $250,000 from National Grid.
Genesee Street is one of a number of streets that will be upgraded in coming years. BUDC is working with consultant Urban Strategies on a 10-year infrastructure master plan for future streetscape work in the downtown area. Work on the plan started in January and a draft is expected to be released next month.
“The main goal is provide better connectivity throughout downtown from the Medical Campus to Canalside but also the waterfront to the Larkin District,” says Merriweather.
Merriweather says the master plan will provide design guidelines, create a list of priority streetscape and pedestrian improvement projects, and recommend a funding/implementation strategy.