Share, , , Google Plus, Reddit, Pinterest, StumbleUpon


Posted in:

Design and Build – What would you do with a $100K budget?

Forever and a day, people have been talking about the parking issues on Elmwood Avenue. Finding a parking spot on Elmwood is getting harder and harder. The side streets? Well, they are hit and miss, and most people visiting the city want to park close to where they shop, eat and drink.

The malls on the outskirts of the city provide sprawling parking lots and parking ramps. The surface lots are the first to fill up, but when there are no more spaces in the lots, people opt for the ramps. That means that most Buffalonians have, from time to time, parked in a parking ramp.

Getting back to Elmwood, and its parking woes, there is a push to direct people to alternative parking places that are just off Elmwood. One particular spot is the John C. Gallagher Parking Ramp, which services Elmwood shoppers and those visiting/working at Children’s Hospital. Unfortunately, it is widely known that shoppers visiting Elmwood Avenue do not use the parking ramp that often. It has been determined that most people don’t even know that the parking ramp exists, and those that do are not sure who it is for? Hospital workers, shoppers, residents?

The other issue that contributes to the lackluster use of the ramp is its obscurity. The entranceway is tough to find when driving down Elmwood Avenue. There is a bank on one side of the ramp, and a high-end jewelry shop on the other side. In the middle is a ramp entranceway (driveway) that fades into the background, which is unfortunate because it leads to virtually limitless parking. Shoppers who do park in the ramp can spend the day, shopping, eating and drinking in the village, without continually pumping coins into meters or worrying about getting a parking ticket.

If the biggest issue pertaining to the lack of drivers utilizing the parking ramp is its obscurity, then one would think that there would be ways to fix the problem. In order to identify possible solutions, a pot of money has been identified totaling $100K that can be used to create a dramatic entranceway to the ramp. That’s right, we’re looking for creative, artistic, futuristic, eye catching… something that would turn the entranceway into a ‘Wow factor!’ Or some other ingenious idea that would get the job done.

As you can readily see, the entranceway is dull, uninviting, and doesn’t do a good job indicating that it’s available to the public. So how do we fix it? Well, that’s up to you. What would you do with a $100K budget? The idea would have to be able to be backed up by an action that would see the completion of the project.

Are you thinking a medium of LED lighting, paint, sculpture, sound, water, or something else? Would the project be directed to the front, near Elmwood, or towards the back where the ramp is actually located? Would it be on the facade of the ramp? Or part of the driveway? Or a mix? What would it look like? How would it perform? How would it interact with drivers and passersby?

What would you do to make this obscure parking ramp come to life, so that everyone would recognize that there is abundant parking located in the Elmwood Village? Let’s make it fun. Let’s make it beautiful. Let’s make it come to life. Let’s create something on Elmwood Avenue that would be the talk of the town.

With Children’s Hospital moving to the Medical Campus, there couldn’t be a better time to run with this project. Not to mention that this section of Elmwood could really use some help, in the form of artistic life. If you have an awesome idea that you believe that you can bring to fruition for $100K, please send an Email to Please add “Parking Ramp Concept” in the subject box of the email.

Gallagher Ramp (see all Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps)

Gallagher Ramp Address: 499 Elmwood

Vehicle Clearance Height: 6’10″

Capacity: 600 Spaces

Daily Rates
$2.00 First Hour
$3.00 Two Hours
$4.00 Three Hours
$5.00 Daily Maximum

Night Rate
$2.00 5pm-6am

$ 57.00
$ 30.00 Evening Monthly (6:00pm-9:00am)

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer |

View All Articles by queenseyes
Hide Comments
Show Comments
  • Johnny Pizza

    “That’s right, we’re looking for creative, artistic, futuristic, eye catching… something that would turn the entranceway into a ‘Wow factor!’”

    Good luck with that Newell –

  • NorthBuf

    A ramp is what it is and does not need to decorated because it does not face the street. What it needs is a giant lit up “P” on a two story pole so people can see it. Only thing ther now is a 2’x’4 rate sign that could be missed walking by.

    • BuffalosFinest

      my thoughts exactly

    • Josh Robinson

      Yes, every other city in the US uses this signage, it’s simple and universally understood. Spend a couple thousand on new signs and donate the rest to charity.

  • Andy Wulf

    Or you could just hold tight and the Elmwood parking crisis will probably solve itself in a couple years. I don’t know if Newell has actually been to the strip lately, but there’s less happening there than probably anytime in the past ten years. That’s what happens when you confuse newfound swagger with actual economic growth, and oversaturate the market in what is still the third poorest city in the United States with high-end residential and retail space. No small business can afford the rent they charge there – that’s why longtime Elmwood fixtures like Bistro Europa and Delish have moved to other neighborhoods and/or closed entirely, and what moves in to replace them rarely lasts longer than a few months or a year. As for the residential, all over the city you’ve got more and more high-end landlords and sellers competing for essentially the same size pool of well-heeled renters or buyers that there always has been, and in Elmwood specifically the selling point is a “vibrant urban neighborhood” that’s growing less vibrant every year.

    Of course, this is going to end the same way it always does when supply outstrips demand. Rents are eventually going to come back down to earth. The problem for Elmwood is, thanks to the same recent wave of speculation, it has more competition than it’s ever had. Rents are going to come down on Hertel, in Allentown, and in the retail spaces downtown too. Elmwood will never be the be-all-end-all trendy neighborhood in Buffalo again.

    • BuffalosFinest

      I see your point but I feel there’s still very much a lot going on. These past two days when the sun finally came out with warm temperatures really helped demonstrate that. It seemed like every restaurant was flooded with people and the sidewalks were filled with your typical runners/dog-walkers, etc. Sure other areas are becoming more popular but like you said the EV will never truly die. I do agree with you though that parking is hardly ever an issue.

      • Andy Wulf

        The process is just starting and yes, there’s still a lot of street life there for now. But the parade of FOR LEASE signs in shop windows along Elmwood is an ominous sign. Last time I was there, I counted at least a dozen of them and I didn’t even go all the way from one end to the other. Elmwood has always had its ups and downs, but it’s never been this bad that I can remember.

    • breckenridge

      Elmwood between Bryant and W. Utica has definitely taken a nose dive in the past 5 or so years, I lived there around 2005 and it was a far better block back then with Casa di Pizza, Ambrosia, Louies, and Pier 1. The sections from W. Ferry through Forest seem to be as vibrant as ever though.

      • Andy Wulf

        Bryant to Utica is definitely the worst-off stretch, but north of Ferry you still have the old locations of Danahy’s, Gelateria Luca, Bullfeather’s, the Bavarian Nut Company, Abraham’s Jewelers and the frozen yogurt place that used to be next door, and Cool Hand Clothing, all vacant – and that’s just off the top of my head, I’m sure I’m forgetting some.

    • Johnny Pizza
  • Marc Rebmann

    The only parking problem on that section of Elmwood is a double parking problem.

    • Captain Picard

      ZING!!!!!!!!!! good one

    • breckenridge

      Is that even a problem anymore now that Casa di Pizza moved?

      • Marc Rebmann

        Yes. The bicycle lane is constantly used as a double parking lane at all hours of the day.

        • Johnny Pizza

          I would add the parallel parking problem, because with only two lanes anyone seeking to parallel park holds up all traffic heading in that direction.
          Enter Hertel Ave, which has just as much (if not more) to do and see, easier parking and a middle turning lane which makes for easier and safer driving.

  • joefrombuffalo2

    The 20 bus needs to be fare free, the way the subway is free above ground. Will allow people to park side streets, ramps, etc and travel easily up and down the road.

  • distas

    I’ve always loved the idea of bringing a historic trolley line to Elmwood Ave starting at the roundabout in front of the Albright-Knox and ending at City Hall by lopping around Niagara Square. I’ve used the tracked trolley system in Dallas and it was a great way to know exactly where the popular districts were as apposed to just taking a random bus or shuttle. Detroit is currently building its trolley down Woodward Ave in Midtown to create a vibrant tourist district.

    This parking ramp would make a great park and ride stop for such a system here in Buffalo. Unfortunately it might be hard to allocate the millions of dollars needed for contruction when you’re one of the poorest cities in the country.

    • distas
    • MrGreenJeans

      All parking was banned on Elmwood in the 1930s, because the street simply was not (and is still not) wide enough to accommodate double tracks with cars trying to pass between the trolleys and the curb AND parked cars. The ban lasted only a short while, because of the outrage of shopkeepers and drivers; the IRC replaced the trolleys with buses, several years ahead of schedule (they were going to adandon all trolleys, anyway) ….

      A new streetcar line would need to have the sidewalks and tree-park areas cut back without mercy, to make room for parking and a (barely wide enough) path for cars alongside the trolleys. . There’s really only room for a horse-drawn buggy or wagon to pass between a streetcar & the curb – with no parked vehicles – even today.

      If such a streetcar line COULD be built, it would best serve the City if it started at the future new Amtrak Station, run to the bus station, zip up Main Street to Allen, Allen to Elmwood, then out Elmwood all the way to Kenmore Ave, so as to connect to the main shopping district of North Buffalo. MIght as well run it all the way out past Sheridan to Knoche, over to Delaware to connect to those stores, then back down Sheridan & return on Elmwood , while we’re indulging in fantasy.

  • Josh Robinson

    I just noticed Thin Man Brewing put a sign outside their business advertising the free parking for customers in the ramp. Other businesses that face tight parking on that block should do the same.

  • kfy321

    The same issue exists along Park and Monroe avenues and their sidestreets in Rochester, Elmwood’s counterpart district there, and not conducive to parking ramps.

  • 300miles

    The signs should be easily noticeable to cars driving 30 mph on Elmwood in either direction, and also to pedestrians on the sidewalks. Also, somewhere along that driveway leading to the garage there should also be clear pricing information, and the hours it’s open.

    It probably wouldn’t hurt to call it something that makes it blatantly clear it’s public parking for Elmwood visitors… like “Elmwood Parking”. (No offense intended to John C. Gallagher)

  • Nick

    Dumbest thing I’ve ever read. Literally just needs a lit up “P” with an arrow. It’s not rocket science or an art project. I’ll submit the idea and pocket the remaining $98,000

    • Captain Picard

      17 whole comments and this is the dumbest thing you’ve ever read? Either you just started commenting after years of readership or you’re an a$shole.

  • greenca

    Where is this supposed $100,000 pot of money coming from? There are much better uses for this when, as others pointed out, the universally-recognized P in a circle sign is all you need.