What is growth without smart growth? That’s a pretty easy question because when it comes to urban and rural planning, we have seen some pretty horrific stuff – not just in Buffalo, but all over the US. It’s easy to build low, flat buildings, with parking lots all around them. It’s cheap too. That’s why it happens so often. Land is relatively cheap, and developers can pocket a few bucks by building over and over until a city looks like the one posted as the lead image (on Oak Street). Yes, that building actually exists. Can you imagine what was there before they constructed this single-storey absurdity? It shares more commonality with a parking lot than an actual building. Thankfully, we aren’t building this sort of dreck any longer… or are we?
Building a city that attracts and retains young professionals.
At the same time, our region continues to lose the battle to sprawl. Farms and woodlands are clearcut in order to accommodate cookie cutter McMansions and gated communities. Not to mention the infrastructure, and the businesses that tend to follow the new money. Instead of living in a vibrant city with a pleasant surrounding countryside, the city limits appear to stretch further and further with no boundaries. Is this sustainable? Is it practical? In order to reverse these trends, we must start to build smarter at the urban core. Residential living in Downtown Buffalo is the future. The businesses will follow. But how do we get there? Not by destroying our infrastructure, but by preserving it and reusing it. That will increase the value of the land, and will make city living more desirable. We must also build upon our sprawling parking lots to create density.
Traffic calming, removing urban freeways, and preservation… these are just a few of the key ingredients needed for the smart growth formula. Once again, Oak Street (featured below) is everything that an urbanist would despise – speeding cars, numerous traffic lanes, poorly conceived buildings – it’s Blah-town USA. The following photo tells the whole story – one side was mostly spared while the other got torpedoed. Thankfully the trees help to cover up the blunder on the left.
On September 12 2016, from 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM, national economist and planner Joe Minicozzi will be giving a presentation on the economic impact of smart growth. Throughout his discussion, he will explain why it is so important for cities to grow smarter (reusing old buildings, along with new infill development). In the end, it’s all about quality of life and improving a city’s financial bottom line. Cities that aren’t adhering to smart growth really aren’t growing – rather they are continuing to spread out, much the same way we have seen for decades. It’s time that Buffalo figures out what is best for Buffalo. There are tried and true formulas, and then there are trials and errors – we have seen too many of those. Hopefully the Green Code will leave much of the absurdity behind, in order to focus on building this city in a smart and intuitive way.
2016 BN360 Legal Briefs: The Economics of Smart Growth
Guaranty Building | Presented by Hodgson Russ
Hodgson Russ | The Guaranty Building | 140 Pearl Street | Buffalo NY
5:30 – 6:00: Registration & Networking
6:00 – 6:45: Keynote: Joe Minicozzi
Presentation customized to the Buffalo Niagara real estate market about economics of development that evaluates land use and development patterns relative to their contribution (and costs) to the municipal tax base.
6:45 – 7:30: Panel Discussion
This event is free | Click here for additional details