NYPA Dollars

Posted by MJ

The LUSJ reported on Mayor Tucker requesting a meeting with the NYPA.

I agree the city should see some of the power money. And although I support the Flight of Five and maybe in some form an "upper marina", I do not see them as the most worth while cause for this type of funding. The tourist dollars are nice but as we can tell from looking at Niagara Falls: having a world class tourist draw does little for the city in and of itself. This is even more true for colder climates where the part time tourist dollars cannot sustain the offshoot development that we are selling the projects on. A functioning city with 24/7/365 non-retail business and residential dollars are needed to provide the type of environment we are hoping for to keep the tourist (and residents?) around and coming back. How do we get this?

The Buffalo News on Monday reported on more projects in the Larkin District in Buffalo. The same place that took the former Lockport Savings Bank even farther away from its birth place. A place that most thought would remain empty after Tyco/Graphic Controls left it empty in an already empty part of the city. How did it find success? Class-A space in a unique setting from an urban minded ownership group which subsequently bought up other properties all around it and created a master plan.

This building was not much different from Harrison Place. What it has is a visionary owner with money willing to take a step most others aren't willing to. Granted those are in short supply but most municipalities fail to make into law Master City plans that could give smaller capital owners the security to invest in a guaranteed larger vision.

Most people will complain about the glut of office/light industrial space but most of it is outdated Class-B and C owned by groups more ready to complain than reinvest in their properties. They are left losing tenants and leasing to lower paying ones. Class-A vacancies are much lower and usually fill quickly in Buffalo when they hit the market. I wonder if Lockport actually has any Class-A space DT.

If our goal is jobs and people downtown I submit that a transformation of Harrison Place similar to that of the Larkin building would give us more bang for the NYPA buck. It would show we are serious about moving forward and beyond the slow slide of disinvestment and job/resident loss. Put residential lofts in the west building and Class A space in the eastern buildings. Find a parter (perhaps one of the firms in Buffalo finding success at these rehabilitations). Get funding to continue running the high speed Verizon lines going to Yahoo through DT over to Harrison Place. When the next inLighten comes, First Niagara looks to expand in the area, Yahoo offshoot businesses start, etc: what will we have to offer?

Use the job/economic development dollars to start to build a genuine downtown and city. There is not a more powerful draw. Save the historical/private grants for the Flight of Five, which would be icing on the cake.


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