Author: Tim H.
We’ve all seen this parking lot if we have driven into Downtown Buffalo via Ohio Street. Sitting at the corner of Perry Street and Michigan Avenue on the left hand side, it is difficult to miss due to its relatively large scale. Used heavily during Sabres games and other First Niagara Center events, this parking lot lays barren, with only a few cars in sight on most days. Most who see it probably don’t even give it a second thought but every time I see it, I continue to imagine the potential it could offer.
Ideally located just blocks away from Canalside, it is here where I can envision a multistory, mixed-use building standing. Perhaps one that is similar to the recently announced Willoughby Exchange; a project that will be going up in the next few years at the corner of East Ferry and Main Streets. Just imagine what could be: restaurant and retail on the ground floor that fronts Perry and Michigan respectively with floors of apartments located above. Parking for the building could be provided via an underground garage and a surface lot behind the building.
Adding a permanent population in the Cobblestone District that is located only blocks away from Canalside would be great moving forward. In theory it should help spur further development and bring more economic stability to the area in the years to come. People that choose to live here at the corner of Perry and Michigan would also find it to be ideal and convenient because they would be only blocks from entertainment (First Niagara Center, Harborcenter, Buffalo Creek Casino) and Metro Rail access. The addition of another retail and dining option would give visitors another place to explore while giving First Niagara Center patrons another location to congregate after an event. It would also provide the city with more tax money and help the Brown Administration build towards their goal of creating 2,000 new downtown housing units over the next few years. The creation of a project like this would be a win-win for all parties involved.
To supplement the parking lost through this development, a multistory parking garage could be built on the same site in between the HSBC parking lot and the proposed mixed-use building as well. After all, the site is very large at 3 acres so there is more than enough room to hold both. It would solve any parking needs that would arise in the district along with allowing event goers to continue to park in close proximity to the First Niagara Center and Canalside. In all honesty, I would love to see something like this happen across the street in the Cobblestone District. Have one of the large parcels that sit between Columbia, Baltimore, and Mississippi Streets be redeveloped into a large multistory parking garage to take care of all parking needs while redeveloping the remaining parcels are redeveloped into mixed-use buildings that house retail and dining options, residential dwellings, and even some office space. (Just imagine what a fully developed Perry Street could offer to weekend visitors and event goers alike!) But despite this potential, that idea seems like more of a pipedream than anything due to the amount of complexities and legalities that would be involved. More importantly, it is also a topic for another day.
Note: Ellicott Development is purchasing Site 6 from the City and Site 8 is under contract by Pegula Sports.