On Monday, a major component of the Rosanna Elizabeth Visual and Performing Arts Center (aka REVPAC Arts Campus) is being presented at a Planning Board Hearing. The crux of the project would see a campus that includes a collaborative visual and performance art spaces, a contemporary gallery, and resource center for arts-related organizations, individuals, and groups. The plan is to convert the Richmond Methodist-Episcopal Church into a performance space (among other uses), and to construct a Mixed-Use Gallery (Benjaman Contemporary Gallery – BCG), and Apartment Building next door.
Recently, it was brought to light that at least one of the immediate neighbors was opposed to the project, due to “conflicting Green Code designs”. But architect Brad Wales refutes that, by stating “I knew we were in the spirit of the Green Code, but when I started really looking at the document itself, it hit me that this project actually embodies the true Vision of the Code.”
On top of the dynamic cultural nature of the project, Rachel Heckl (REVPAC) and Emily Tucker (BCJ) have formulated that they believe the project is “worth at least $20 million to the local economy over the next 20-years.” There are others who believe that those numbers are conservative.
Once open, this campus will boast a 500-seat sanctuary, a new 100-seat black box space, top quality exhibition space and services for local artists, multi-room recording studio, and a community culinary arts space. The buildings will be a hotbed for dance, arts, music, symposiums, and corporate gatherings. A number of local cultural groups are already intending on utilizing the spaces, including Buffalo Gamelan Club, Buffalo World Music & Dance Academy, and other local dance companies (yet to be announced).
Now is the time to move forward with this project. Anyone who has any misgivings about how this campus jibes with the Green Code, project architect Brad Wales has provided the following analysis:
Research into Buffalo’s N-2R Zone, including example images, in the 2016 Green Code Land Use Plan/UDO/Appendix 3 clearly show, beyond whether we are merely meeting the spirit of the Green Code, that the actual Vision of the Green Code is embodied by the proposed REVPAC / BCG Mixed-Use Project. This Vision clearly includes a mix of frame housing and 3-or-3.5-or-4-story stacked unit buildings.
Below are five supporting example images—including the cover of the 2016 Green Code Land Use Plan itself. Every single germane picture in these documents show this to be the Vision.
In fact, the adaptive re-use of existing properties such as the Church and Warehouse, with creative accommodations for transportation, is the goal of the 2016 Green Code.
While it is true that the Project Site is on an Alley rather than a Principle Thoroughfare as shown in the diagrams, here are several mitigating factors and concepts that support the intent of the Code:
1) Most of the stacked unit apartment buildings depicted in the Green Code are as close as a few feet from an adjacent frame dwelling, rather than the 63-feet of separation between the abutting house to the West and the Proposed BCG Mixed-Use stacked unit building. So this Proposed building has significantly less impact (up to 20-times less) on the Richmond Avenue houses than historical development patterns that are shown as positive examples/goals in the Green Code.
2) All the neighbors on the Alley support the Proposed Project. The Alley and Warehouse are currently deteriorated. Neighbors who actually use the Alley for access to their Garages are emphatically in favor of the Project because of the maintenance and stewardship pledged by REVPAC.
3) The Proposed Mixed-Use Building is entirely within current allowable Zoning Height limitations. No Variance is, or was needed for Height.
4) The existing structures—Church and Warehouse—just happen to be situated where they are, and they have been there for many many many years. The Green Code still emphatically supports adaptive re-use of these types of structures.
5) The final page of the 2016 Land Use Plan has a quote by Jane Jacobs: “Lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration.” Quite literally, the overall Campus, including the Church, Alley, and Warehouse contained the seeds of this “lively, diverse, and intense” project.
Research into the documents of the Green Code indicate the overall Rosanna Elizabeth Visual & Performing Arts Campus is the Vision of the Green Code.