Author: Craig Spangler
Many urban neighborhoods have seen a well-chronicled resurgence over the last decade. Large developers have taken vacant or underutilized warehouses and office buildings and created upscale, chic spaces which draw in young professionals who value amenities and an upscale style. Smaller investors and families have bought up large older homes, and begun to restore them to their previous glory, bringing value back to areas that had previously been after thoughts in real estate. Regardless of the type of dwelling, or background of the inhabitants, one thing is common to these neighborhood renaissance. Accessibility. Accessibility can be viewed as a macro-micro argument. One, a micro level neighborhood should have businesses and services locally that can promote walkability and local investment. On a macro level, accessibility means access to the economic engines that drive the region-think Brooklyn or Hoboken to Manhattan.
In Buffalo we’ve seen Elmwood and Allentown explode because of these traits- walkable areas with a diverse business community on the edge of downtown. There is another area that flies under the radar which possesses these same strengths. Kaisertown residents quietly enjoy easy access to an eclectic mix of businesses and housing in a compact neighborhood.
On the micro level, Clinton Street and Valu Plaza combine to provide many essentials. Kaisertown has two hardware stores which excel at customer service. While doing home improvement one can simply walk to Clinton Street and Bill from Hector’s will be available to give advice. Larger needs, such as plywood and dry wall require only a quick ride a few blocks away to Valu.
Need a haircut? Kaisertown doesn’t only have one salon, there are choices. The strip boasts at least five salons and barber shops dotting Clinton Street from Fantastic Sam’s to Geno who is still sweeping floors in his 80’s.
Hungry? You’ll be able to walk off your dinner on your way home and not have to worry about driving after a few cocktails. Wiechec’s is probably the best known spot, serving up legendary Buffalo classics with great daily specials. Lucky’s has you covered for your weekend breakfast, affordable enough that you can pay for with leftover cash after a late Friday night. In classic Buffalo style, Clinton St. has some great pizza places as well. Guzzo’s Hot Spot, Desi’s, Molino’s and Diva’s are all walkable for most Kaisertown residents.
There are a number of grocery options too. The Clinton-Bailey market is just a one mile walk. It isn’t an artisan market like the Bidwell Farmer’s Market, but the prices on produce and fruit, along with the large number of vendors provide an affordable produce option. Save-a-lot is in the Valu Plaza, and the Clinton Street Market is available for quick stops.
Other business you can walk to if you live in cozy Kaisertown include: a tax service, laundry mat, two dental offices, an attorney, a chiropractor, a chocolatier, two bowling alleys, a craft and gift shop and countless local bars.
In terms of public services, the East Clinton Library is located in Kaisertown where one can use computers, do research or check out books and movies. Arguably the best place in Kaisertown is Houghton Park. While not an Olmsted park, it has a great walking path with some old growth trees and pavilions for picnics. It successfully brings a feeling of nature and the outdoors to an urban landscape. With a pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, and street hockey courts an active lifestyle in available within walking distance.
A surprisingly high number of Western New Yorkers aren’t familiar with Kaisertown, despite the fact that it can be considered a transportation crossroad. Located at the intersection of the mainline I-90 and I-190, thousands pass through daily. Highways can be controversial when discussing neighborhoods and design, but Interstate 90 is here to stay as it provides quick access to all of Western New York for Kaisertown residents and businesses alike. A few of these drive times show accessibility in terms of average drive time; Galleria Mall- 7 minutes, First Niagara Center- 8 minutes, Ralph Wilson Stadium- 14 minutes, ECC North- 16 minutes, the Boulevard Mall, 16 minutes and Kissing Bridge- 33 minutes.
Kaisertown is seen as an outpost, but is actually only 5 miles from downtown. This is roughly the same distance as North Buffalo neighborhoods that have seen a drastic increase home values in past few years. The number two bus runs down Clinton Street regularly, providing solid public transportation for those with jobs downtown.
Clinton Street does not have dedicated bike lanes, which is a big miss considering its recent paving. However, it does provide a relatively safe direct route for cyclists to the city center. The bike path starting at Dingens, running through Sloan and Cheektowaga does provide easy access to the east instead of using some of the more treacherous roads like Harlem, William and Union. This allows for a biking option to the Galleria mall area and Apple Tree business park.
Larkinville, and the fledgling Riverbend Project are both just 2.5 miles away from the center of Kaisertown. As these areas grow, they put the neighborhood on the fridge of what will become job centers and will lay the foundation for our future. Above average paying jobs will be accessible for the residents of Kaisertown in every direction.
With the recent articles posted in the Buffalo News about people being priced out of Elmwood and North Buffalo and the West Side, it is important for buyers to begin considering fringe neighborhoods like Kaisertown, which has much to offer potential home owners. The next time you’re driving through, take a minute to look at all Kaisertown has to offer.