Image - N. Tonawanda Factory undergoing loft conversion
I read in the Buffalo News that Tonawanda has beat Lockport to a lofts project. Maybe we can inherit it like we did the concert series?

With the tax breaks for mixed use: and county tax breaks for new stores: opportunities are there to make it work (along with existing historic tax credits etc).

The western old Harrison Building is crying out for this. ;) For those who rather own and put in the elbow grease the opportunities exist right next door on South St. and Genessee St. A modern loft anchoring it would provide stability to enable those investments plus put more consumers within walking distance of Main St.

It should be apparent by now that the facility is too large for single use business. Lay the ground work to encourage mixing it up and diversifying. The master plan from '99 calls for it. DT will be stronger because of it.


Image - Old Harrison Building, Walnut St. Lockport NY

4/17/2009

They do exist!

Posted by MJ


Walgreen's
Originally uploaded by
elryerson85

It's really true. Stores like Walgreen's etc are capable and willing to design stores with urban site layouts if we are wise enough to require it. We need to enact legislation that guides development to meet our master plan.

Imagine this sitting at West Ave and S Transit instead of large parking lot. Opportunities were missed with Rite Aid, Walgreen's and most recently Family Video. Let's make sure we do not miss anymore.



Here's what we got:

4/17/2009

S. Transit Rezoning Debate.

Posted by MJ

A rework of a post over on the LUSJ Forums pertaining to the debate on rezoning S. Transit.

"the cost is the sacrifice of good housing stock and neighborhoods." - I do not agree.

I think the biggest fear of the zoning change stem from current anti-urban developments such as Autozone, Lockport Plaza, Rite Aid, etc. Massive parking lots over the whole property and up to the street blighting them and the properties abutting them. Being on a busy commuter street is not a plus for single residential or high quility buisness development.

Look at Elmwood Ave in Buffalo. A vibrant mix of business and residential. A lot of the businesses are in old homes and some then built out to the street. This is the goal of this zoning change. The streets that run parallel to Elmwood are in high demand because people see the investment and are lured to an interesting active people-centric area with unique older homes. Elmwood even "survives" with only 2 lanes in each direction, street side parking and no turning lanes. It is actually the taming of traffic that adds to it. It makes you go slow and take in the shops and activity around you.

The 4 lane stripping with no street parking currently on S Transit is a waste. It promotes a pass thru culture that is only good for writing speeding tickets. I'll create a separate post on this.

The idea here is sound. Business uses like the 245 Snow Board shop are wonderful reuses that make for a quaint mixed use street (Street front entrance would be nice). I have not read the proposal and no proposal is ever perfect. Fears need to be answered by legislating urban development along this stretch with monetary incentives to go mixed use. Strip malls and street side parking lots need to be outright prohibited.

If businesses do grow along here there is a subset of people that would love to live in such an area with multiple amenities and life outside their front door. Others would prefer a street or two over, still in walking distance but a bit "quieter". People who want to race through can use the Rt 93 by-pass. It's what it is there for.There needs to be some long term plans for "reclaiming" the section from Gaffney to Willow which is gorge of asphalt. The rest of the street still has nice building stock to create a great bridge between the auto-centric town and Main St. I'm surprised how many mature trees still exist along this stetch forming a semi-canopy in the summer. A plan is needed in addition to the zoning to provide a bridge to future growth instead of a long slide of disinvestment.

I am one street over from S. Transit and would welcome a slower street of smaller shops to walk over to and enjoy. It's what makes urban living so great. I do not want anymore suburban layout drug stores and auto parts stores with endless parking lots greeting me the whole walk. If they really really want to be on the street make them build up to the street/corner, etc. It is done elsewhere in this country. We just accept the base model of developments around here in the name of any "progress". Let's not be so desperate. ;)

4/16/2009

Buffalo's Teaching Tree Farm

Posted by MJ



Image - Locust St - Lockport NY

Long time no post ;) House work has kept me busy busy... I did come across this "idea in action" over at Buffalo Rising.

A "teaching tree farm" is planned and ready for planting on the site of former ramshackle, abandoned homes on Buffalo's west side.


The tree farm will encompass two abandoned city lots at 309-315 14th Street between Vermont and Rhode Island streets, and will be installed with the first trees planted on Friday, April 24th, and Saturday, April 25th. Used to train area youth to
learn the craft of raising seedlings to become trees large enough for planting along Buffalo's city streets, the initiative was established through a grant given to *Re-Tree WNY by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.


The Youth Forestry Crew Initiative will employ twelve youth and a supervisor that will work for the entire season managing the tree farm, watering trees and working with the City Forester, Jeff Brett, to do regular pruning along our city streets....



I personally love this idea. Many municipalities throw out the "cost" issue as a reason for not being able to replenish the tree canopy along the streets. But as any home owner knows, once spring thaw hits there are more than enough tree seedlings already finding their way out of the yard. If left alone they grow much quicker than one would expect. Small 6" seedlings also cost a small fraction of a more mature tree price. No need to buy them at the larger more expensive "ready to plant" stage.

What would it take for the Lockport DPW to section of a part of their yard to start growing some trees? How hard would it be to keep them watered and growing until large enough to plant? Would they allow volunteers to tend to them during business hours or would union rules get in the way? There are already numerous volunteers in out city whom greatly add to our quality of life. With today's interest in "green" lifestyles, nature, etc I think young enthusiastic volunteers would be easy to find if given the proper tools.

Paul Maurer, Chairman of Re-Tree WNY, puts this into perspective: "If you give these trees on just this one property three years of growth and they're replanted in the city, we just became more cost-efficient by about $29,000. Our whole City of Buffalo initiative could be supplied by four such farms yielding 480 trees per year and will only cost us about $5,000 for the materials. Plus, we will have made a lot of future foresters out of our inner-city children. It's a great 'win- win'. We are very grateful to the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo for giving us this grant."


Trees can be low cost if allow ourselves to set up a system to nurture them on our own.