10/14/2011Posted by MJ
A post in Buffalo Rising highlights the changes on a block of Plymouth Ave on the west side over the past 15 years.
For many years, the first block of Plymouth Avenue between Hudson and Pennsylvania streets was a sore thumb of blight threatening the more stable neighborhoods of Plymouth Avenue between Pennsylvania Street and Porter Avenue, Pennsylvania Street itself and nearby Orton Place and St. John's Place. The crime and disinvestment found on the block was also a threat to the western end of the Allentown Historic Preservation District.
According to neighborhood residents, the block was a hotbed of drug dealing and other criminal behaviors. It was not uncommon to find heroin needles lying about, prostitutes turning tricks on corners, or teenagers shooting up under streetlights. Abandonment, decay, and sheer age have all taken their toll on this block...I note it to pose that the opportunity of change in the Genessee St area does exist. It is not quick. It is never complete. But match people with great old housing, a walkable neighborhood and the presence of aggressive block clubs and there is hope.
This area next to DT offers an infrastructure that is no longer built (and usually deemed illegal by current zoning coeds). A type of area that a good number of people look for. Those same people are usually the type to put in all the "sweat equity" needed to start the turn around which will eventually make it feasible for more "contractor" based work to be done by future residents.
The city itself needs an aggressive policy to market these properties, provide proper incentives and complete the structural changes necessary to solidify the cities vision for it's future. A lot of people are filling to take a risk if they see other area residents are vested. It is even sweeter when the city itself is on board and an active parter assisting in the transformation be it through investment, enforcement, incentives etc.
The area can remain fodder for the perpetual pessimists and tax base drain but it also contains the infrastructure for some hard working optimists to start a rebirth that could add to the tax base. More and more examples of reclaimed blocks pop up as people look to connecting with history and an environment built for people. What will be done here to connect with them?