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Walkable Grant Street? Of Course.

Facebook friend Jonathan Foreman posted a great little story regarding his Grant Street neighborhood.  With their car in the shop he and his wife decided to do a little experiment. Here is their story as they tell it:

With the car in the shop for a while longer, today Tara and I decided to test the “walkability” of Grant/Ferry/Forest and see how much grocery shopping we could get done if we just walked.

Between Rite Aid (toothpaste, a hairbrush for Tara, and candy for work) Zarcone & Sons Meat Market (Italian Sausage, bacon, freshly ground beef, and a beautiful sirloin steak for Kebab), Golden Burma (black soy sauce, fresh lemongrass, fresh ginger), and Guercio’s, (green onions, snow peas, peaches, pasta, goat cheese, bread, Gorgonzola, brie, red olives, pomegranate juice) we managed to get everything we needed, and still had West Side Bazaar, Vineeta International Foods, Lin Food Market, save-a-lot, and Price Rite on Delavan available to us.

At this moment, one can literally do all of their grocery shopping in our neighborhood, on foot, finding nearly everything available at Wegmans within FIVE BLOCKS, with the added bonus of these guys jamming in front of West Side Bazaar as we were leaving Zarcone’s.  This neighborhood ROCKS.

A commenter asked if prices were comparable to traditional big box car centric shopping.  Jonathan replied:

The cost difference was most noticeable at Rite Aid, where the prices were at least 8% higher than they would be at a Rite Aid in the suburbs. It was a good demonstration of Poverty Economics. Restricted mobility means big retailers can charge more for the same items when they have what amounts to a captive population. Zarcone’s was reasonable, a few cents more per pound than Wegmans. We spent $40 there and walked away with a fairly heavy bag of good quality meat. We spent $5.04 at Golden Burma. The amount of fresh lemongrass and fresh ginger we bought would have totalled $9 at Wegmans, and Wegmans STILL doesn’t carry black soy sauce. No one beats Guercio’s price wise for fresh produce and cheese. Pomegranate juice there is half of what it costs at Wegmans. It was an eye-opening experience. We will definitely be doing most of our grocery shopping here in the neighborhood now.

Another commenter chimed in with this:

Also within the same circle 2 book stores, Sweetness , Pho Dollar, LA Empanadas, an awesome laundromat, a yoga studio, and a thrift store that isn’t full of hipsters looking for ironic t-shirts. Plus a liquor store! And 4 convenient bus routes! And a post office, 2 banks, and 2 hardware stores. I will never leave this neighborhood because I don’t need to have a car. I do have a car, but I hardly use it for shopping or errands unless I need dog food!

Great cities are full of great walkable shopping streets.  Buffalo used to have countless neighborhood shopping strips throughout the city. These districts conveniently served the needs of nearby residents who often walked to fill most of their shopping needs. Grant Street was once one of the busiest neighborhood shopping streets.  It has gone through a decades long downturn, but has held enough critical mass of shops and buildings to sustain a modicum of life. It has recently showed signs of growth and is now new vibrancy from newly arrived refugees and other immigrants.  The city should do everything it can to encourage growth of Grant Street and other neighborhood walkable shopping districts. They will prove to be the anchors of a new vibrant Buffalo in the near future.

Written by David Steele

David Steele

Architect ( a real one, not just the armchair type), author of "Buffalo, Architecture in the American Forgotten Land" ( www.blurb.com ), lover of great spaces, hater of sprawl and waste,
advocate for a better way of doing things.

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