A number of downtown areas will see traffic calming measures, public space investments, and streetscape improvements under a new master plan prepared under the direction of the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation (BUDC). The improvements, planned for right-of-ways and also public spaces, are proposed to build upon proposed or completed streetscape work along Main Street, Ellicott Street, Genesee Street, Niagara Street, and elsewhere.
Urban Strategies worked with key stakeholders and the public to prepare the plan. Key factors in determining recommended improvements included identifying projects that would help establish a more vibrant living environment and assist with attracting residents, visitors, and businesses to the central business district.
Proposed improvements in the Downtown Buffalo Infrastructure and Public Realm Framework are centered in four “redevelopment nodes”: Main Street, Entertainment District, Civic/Employment, and Erie/Shelton Square.
Main Street Investment Corridor
There are two section of what the BUDC is calling the Main Street Investment Corridor. The northern portion stretches from Goodell to North Street and the southern portion from Mohawk Street to South Park Avenue. The Car Sharing Main Street project is anticipated to continue in phases south from the current work in the 500 block. The plan calls for a design that continues the work that has been completed on the 600 and 700 blocks of Main Street with slight variations in material to uniquely identify their general area within downtown. Key projects:
Cars Sharing Main Street (Mohawk to Court)
Cars Sharing Main Street (Perry to Exchange)
Main Street between Goodell and North Street
Public Space Improvements
Main Street Underpass Improvements
I-190 Connector Projects
The area includes Chippewa Street, portions of Ellicott and Washington Streets, and Main, Pearl and Franklin streets between Chippewa and Tupper streets. Improvements are expected to incorporate a “more artistic and whimsical nature” including artisan-designed street furniture and themes within the designs that reflects the district’s heritage as a film and theatre destination.
The plan calls for establishing a new park space on an existing surface lot and suggests either the M&T Bank lots along Washington Street or lots on Franklin Street. It also suggests looking at building underground parking. Other key projects:
Flower District Concept Plan (east of Theater District)
Potential new public space to be incorporated into a redevelopment project
The area stretches from behind City Hall to Michigan Avenue and includes Niagara Square, Court Street, and portions of Broadway, Clinton, and William streets. Investment in this node would improve public space conditions in Niagara and Lafayette squares. Pedestrian-oriented improvements are planned along with street furniture with a more formal/traditional design incorporating built seat walls, extended benches and large planted areas. Lafayette and Niagara squares would feature movable tables and chairs to allow each space to transform for various uses throughout the seasons. Lighting in the squares would be reduced to a pedestrian scale. Key projects:
Court Street streetscape and planted medians
Broadway road diet
William Street road diet
Niagara Square beautification
Lafayette Square and Library plaza overhaul
Erie/Shelton Square Node
The area is centered along Church Street, North and South Division streets, and Erie Street extending to Waterfront Village. Improvements are designed to reconnect Michigan Street and Erie Community College to Lake Erie in a pedestrian-friendly manner, with an emphasis on traffic calming and green space. Key projects:
Erie Street improvement project
Erie Node two-way conversions
Erie Node intersections and streetscapes
North and South Division traffic overhaul
Traffic tables (raised crosswalks with pavers between parks spaces to calm traffic)
New student-oriented park
Erie underpass beautification and development
Five Flags/Firemen’s Park design study
Implementation of the plan will require long-term funding sources. Stakeholders will help evaluate and select the improvement projects. Review will include consideration for each project’s consistency with the streetscape plan, impact on the downtown real estate market and well as their contribution to the form and function of the downtown public realm. A total cost for the proposed projects was not provided but the Cars Sharing Main Street work alone carries up to a $70 million price tag.