If it was up to me, the gas station at the southeast corner of Delaware and Delavan would be replaced with a building that would best suit the intersection. Over the years, we have seen this intersection fall in to the muck and mire of a cheap, parking-driven wasteland, with no sense of place. Despite retaining the beautiful entrance of Forest Lawn Cemetery, the rest of the tenants include a second gas station/convenience store, and a fugly drug store. It’s incredible to think that this type of development was ever allowed on Delaware Avenue. And now we’re stuck with it. Or are we?
Other than getting the property rezoned, which would probably never happen, there’s probably little hope for this corner. If the building isn’t somehow grandfathered in, then possibly the Green Code would be affective (time is an issue here), unless a variance is granted. That means that the design will ultimately be left up to the developer – Ellicott. The name of the developer comes from Joseph Ellicott, the surveyor who laid out the city of Buffalo in 1804 (our radial street grid). With a name that denotes pride in our historic fabric, one would think that Ellicott Development would look at this parcel of land and think about the historic nature of this corner, and how it will play out in years to come.
Stranger things have happened, you know. Years ago, the community fought to save the historic gas station that is located at the corner of Allen and Delaware. Today the building still stands, and is home to Allentown Trading Company – an Ellicott Development project and business.
The City of Buffalo should also be examining the corner of East Delavan and Delaware, knowing that there is an opportunity to work together towards fixing many of the architectural and design. There is no better time than now to reexamine the entirety of this intersection, which has washed out crosswalks, and is essentially a see of asphalt with very few plantings.
Finally we are seeing the complete removal of a jacked up gas station on Elmwood, thanks to Ellicott Development (905 Elmwood). It just so happens that the new development project also sits on Delavan, just down the street from the gas station in question. Ellicott is doing appropriate new mixed use projects – Tim Hortons on Niagara (when pushed), 905 Elmwood and the Ohio Street project. Now that there is an exciting new Gates development, and the Oxford neighborhood is up and coming, there is a lot of synergy in around this neighborhood these days. One would think that Ellicott would see this underutilized parcel as a real opportunity for a mixed use development. Or if their intentions are set on a Trading Company gas station… it should be something that we can all be proud of (tall order).
We should collectively be looking at this corner as an opportunity to reclaim lost beauty. In fact, The City should also be looking at the rest of East Delavan up to Canisius College. Bike lanes should be added, which would connect the college campus with a direct route to Elmwood. Sidewalks should also be put down along the north side of the street.
There is so much that we could be doing to be proactive on this corner, rather than sitting around and playing the waiting game. And while we’re at it, can we get rid of a few of the nasty billboards that visually pollute our city’s vistas?