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The Coalition for a Vibrant Seneca Unveils Plan

The Frizlen Group’s Redevelopment Project of the St. Teresa’s School Building – Construction workers pose at the school  with former school principal, Sister Alice Roach

The Coalition for a Vibrant Seneca group will unveil their vision for Seneca streetscape improvements on Monday, June 4th at 6:30 p.m. at St. John’s, 2319 Seneca Street, and again, on June 11th at 6:30 p.m. at St. Teresa’s Parish Center, 33 Mineral Springs Road in South Buffalo.

Hook and Ladder Restoration Project of the old Rocklyn Printing Building

About two years ago, community activist Mark Pasquale teamed up with Developer Karl Frizlen to discuss ideas for revitalizing Seneca Street to anchor South Buffalo’s comeback. Fellow developers Jake Schneider and Hook and Ladder brought their commitment and expertise to the group and the Advisory Board for a nonprofit group, Coalition for a Vibrant Seneca, was formed. Each of the board members has invested in the area, providing renovated housing, commercial storefronts, restaurants and offices. They introduced the Coalition for a Vibrant Seneca to an enthusiastic crowd with public (including Mayor Brown), and private presenters in a packed St. Teresa’s church hall last summer.

Shea’s Seneca Theater
2096 Seneca – Built in 1922, the building was home of SB’s iconic Bob’s Barber Shop. The 4,500 sq.’ space will undergo a complete mixed-use renovation–but keep the barber chairs – H&L

The Coalition for a Vibrant Seneca has been actively gathering information and resources since then. They have connected with Councilman Scanlon who lends his support. At the June 4th meeting, they will present research into the history, the possibilities and recommendations for the streetscape improvement. Urban activists, Jeff Belt and Chuck Banas are creators of the presentation that will contrast what is with what could be. The goal is to increase the walkability, safety and viability of the Seneca Street corridor.

A major artery connecting South Buffalo with downtown, the waterfront and Larkinville, Seneca Street has good bones and a strong sense of identity. There is an Olmsted Park and the Buffalo River. It’s densely populated. The building stock has withstood the test of time. Mercy Hospital and Trocaire College bring a steady flow of people into the area. With so many great resources in place, an upgrade in the streetscape is a good investment that will impact residents, visitors and neighboring areas.

Schneider Development Liberty Seneca Building

Traffic calming to increase safety for pedestrians and bicyclists is a part of the vision. Roundabouts are an inexpensive solution to slowing down traffic; they also increase the amount of green space, enhancing the street’s beauty. Current plans include tree planting, striping bike lanes and improving the street surface. With a more inviting streetscape, drivers will slow down and notice what is happening on the street including more pedestrian traffic, renovated buildings and new businesses. These changes will encourage businesses to invest and stories of “remember when” will be replaced with current plans for enjoying what Seneca Street has to offer.

2114 Seneca – This mixed-use property, comprised of three residential units and three commercial units, will undergo a top-to-bottom renovation to revive its rich architecture. Construction is already underway on this signature Seneca Street building. – H&L
Plans for the former St. John the Evangelist Church include four first floor commercial units and twelve loft-style residential apartments overlooking Seneca Street and Cazenovia Park – H&L

According to Marc Pasquale, President of the Coalition for a vibrant Seneca, “The Seneca Street neighborhood in South Buffalo is building on its many assets and rich history, which is linked to the Seneca Nation of Indians. We have the Seneca Indian Park and the Seneca Bluffs Natural Habitat along the Buffalo River. The Coalition is a catalyst bringing together residents, developers and business people working hand in hand to restore the area.”

To bring back a once vital neighborhood, it takes a community. The Advisory Board will present both the vision and the committee structure for implementing the plan. Meeting participants can provide input regarding the vision as well as sign up for volunteer opportunities to get involved at this exciting early stage.

Based on the hope and enthusiasm within this unique pocket of Buffalo, there is reason to anticipate progress. Once the vision is shared, the momentum will build. This is a call to action. Come to the meeting to learn more and to join the next wave of development, the one in your backyard. We have seen it again and again, when we team together, forming public and private partnerships, we get the job done. In the process, we celebrate what we have, what we can do and who we are as a community.

Learn more about Seneca Street

Lead image: St. John’s Church which will be turned into a combination of business and apartments this year

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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