9/03/2009

Devaluing Harrison Place

Posted by MJ

 Image - Larkin Reuse East Side Buffalo

Both the LUSJ and The Buffalo News are reporting on County Manager Gregory D. Lewis' report on moving some county departments to Harrison Place (records and mental health).

The summary of the report in the articles reads as if the Lewis either has his mind made up on another location (or the existing one over at the Mountain View complex) or is unfamiliar with proven current day building reuses.

“I don’t know what they expected, if they expected to walk into the Larkin Building or the Rich Atrium,” Tucker said. “It is what it is, it’s an old industrial warehouse. It’s got mold, it needs a new roof in one place, but it’s structurally sound. I was unhappy the county manager would release such a scathing report about one of our assets.”
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Tucker said the city has shown it can clean up and reuse old, run-down buildings, pointing to a former shirt factory that now is home to Niagara County Produce’s Lockport location, and the once-decrepit buildings on Canal Street that now await commercial tenants.
“It’s not like we don’t know what we’re doing. We have a track record,” Tucker said.
 While government has the responsibility to give us the best use of our money it goes beyond just building the cheapest buildings it can. Public buildings should be central and add value to the area around them. The Harrison complex would benefit from being a mixed use facility of commercial/residental/governmental. The mixed use would create a 24-hour building and would protect the shield the building from drops in demand in one of the sectors and the gov't sector could give it some needed stability.

It would give the "bad" area around it a boost and a reason for some investment confidence. You turn around a bad area by investing in it; not by ignoring it through disinvestment.

Similar to the old Larkin Factory on the east side of Buffalo (top image) the Harrison Complex could be the biggest jewel in DT Lockport. Recently all types of tax incentives/credits have been legislated for mixed use and historic properties. We just need some leaders with some forward thinking to help us on our way to a whole that is greater than it parts. I hope they keep pushing and succeed.

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