For as long as I’ve been rooting for Buffalo, there have been plenty of times that I’ve also been left scratching my head, wondering how this city will continue to move forward if certain issues aren’t addressed. Two of those issues that go hand-in-hand are excess of parking in downtown Buffalo, and limitations in public transportation. Unfortunately, you can’t solve one without tackling the other first. It’s tough to eliminate parking lots if people have a hard time getting from place to place. In cities with trolley and subway systems in place, it’s easy to leave cars behind. But that’s not the case in Buffalo at this stage in the game, which is why the idea of creating a mobility hub was introduced when planning 201 Ellicott – one of Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation’s latest mixed-use development projects that will soon be home to Braymiller Market.
The concept of a mobility hub sounds good in theory, but how about application? A recent article in Next City does a great job breaking down the various elements that lend towards the creation of the hub, including some successful mobility initiatives that led to the urbanist advancements that we are now seeing come to fruition.
From testing out a mobility hub at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus to reducing zoning requirements pertaining to parking, it turns out that 201 Ellicott happens to be a “perfect storm” of opportunities. The article discusses a number of new mobility hub amenities that are contributing to what will hopefully one day be a shining beacon for public transportation success stories in Buffalo. For example, the sidewalks surrounding 201 Ellicott will be wider, to encourage walking. There will be also be a “pull up zone” for ride hailing services. Interior long-term bike storage and a fix-it station are also being added to the mix. Bike stations (along with e-Bikes) will also be installed – and hopefully the City fulfills additional Complete Streets strategies and introduces bike-ped safety features (including bike lanes). At this point, Justin Booth of GObike Buffalo says that the City is “… moving forward with a Complete Street redesign of Ellicott Street. Plus, there will be information on all of the mobility options on full display, so that people will be readily aware of all of the opportunities at hand. And proximity to the Metro Rail is also a key factor. Not to mention all of the advancements with grocery and food delivery services. Having a fresh food grocery hub in the heart of downtown will mean that nearby residents, office workers, and restaurateurs will have easy access to plenty of delivery options.
At the end of the day, there will only be 26 parking spots available for the grocery store, on a site where a 400 space parking lot once ‘stood.’ This concept of “less is more” is being heatedly debated in Buffalo at the present time. There are those who say that Buffalo is not ready for this type of departure from parking-heavy development. For years, that was the model… but it didn’t work, as we can readily see Downtown, where parking lots still rule the land. But with more people living downtown, more shopping and restaurant options opening, and more building density, this once partially-barren landscape will be more inviting for people to explore and interact with the offerings.
What is especially interesting (and exciting) is that this debate is finally resulting in some significant changes in the development landscape, as we are now seeing with the 201 Ellicott project. This infill is not only impressive, it’s forward-thinking. Of course only time will tell if this mobility hub accommodates all of the needs for those frequenting the site – there are obviously a lot of people betting that it can.
To read the article in Next City, click here.
Lead image courtesy CannonDesign/James Lai – from the article in Next City