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Boston offers hints for Buffalo’s future

June 28, 2011

I took another roadie to a city with quite a bit of history and tradition this past weekend. Wouldn’t you know it, there are plenty of ideas staring you right in the face that make you wonder, “why isn’t this being done in Buffalo?”

The belly of Quincy Market. The food court stretches down the hall in both directions on the bottom floor.

The city I visited was Boston. I caught a Dispatch concert that absolutely kicked ass and I was able to taking the area in and around TD Garden (the USRT boys certainly know this area) and I was able to stroll many a city block taking in the history and architecture of that great city. I also hung out a Quincy Market, an ideal template for some of the questions floating around Canalside and the waterfront.

I will first say this, I understand that Boston is one of the oldest American cities with boatloads more history and tradition than Buffalo. I also am well aware that Boston dwarfs the Queen City in size. But that is ok. What I want to focus on are key cogs, not the big picture.

No beating around the bush, though. Quincy Market is EXACTLY what Buffalo needs. I mean E-X-A-C-T-L-Y. It is filled with shopping and eateries in an open market setting. There is room for kiosks – for those functional lawn fans who only want t-shirts being sold – while having, gasp, national chain retailers as well. Basically, it is like taking parts of the Galleria Mall and turning them inside out so people can enjoy the weather while they shop. By the way, the snow argument doesn’t really hold water considering Boston’s geographic location.

I digress. In the belly of Quincy Market (pictured) is a long food court that offers just about any food you can think of. Burgers, sushi, pizza, pasta etc. There are a handful of tables, but mostly counter-space to stand and eat at. The idea is to keep people moving and shopping.

This is the type of vision I have for either Canalside or that pesky DL&W terminal. I know the NFTA runs the building, I know that the NFTA aren’t developers. But the second floor (and first for that matter) of that terminal is ripe for this type of idea. I see it less as a food court and more as what you might see at a restaurant. A few mini restaurants still serving their famous dishes. Think Duffs, Red Osier and Just Pizza offering wings, beef of weck and slices to the people shopping downstairs, or heading in/out of the arena. A pedestrian bridge to HSBC would be quite functional and would add a neat flair to that part of the neighborhood.

The proposed public market that is part of the Canalside plans (if it isn’t shot down by some a-hole lawsuit) would be another fine home for this type of thing. Indoor/outdoor shopping at stores you would find at the mall with a cool food option only steps away. Seems like a no brainer to me.

When I was at Quincy Market is was gloomy and a there was a slight mist falling, it was teeming with people. I think you would be hard pressed to argue that an outdoor market (call it a mall if you must) with real food options – not a hot dog shanty – teamed with the Buffalo waterfront and some faux historically accurate canals wouldn’t bring people to the city. Maybe someone will read this and think it may be wise. Then they can present it to the common council and the 36 other committees trying to develop the waterfront and it can be held up for five years.

Outside of the market, there were other cool spots around Boston. Round Hills’ tree-lined streets were breathtaking – think Delaware Ave. but narrower and on a hill. And the arena district was exactly what you want. Plenty of bars, some neat housing options and easily accessible by public transit.

The Cobblestone District could be what the area around TD Garden is now. There needs to be fewer parking lots and more bars and restaurants. That is it. If the neighborhood was more dense it would easily mimic the best arena districts in all of major sports. I have a plan of my own that many Twitter followers are aware of already. I just need to sit down and do the work on it.

The fact of the matter is, Buffalo isn’t that far off from having a vibrant section of town that isn’t teeming with 17 year olds between the hours of 1am and 4am. If the people in charge would take hints from other successful ideas and PUT THEM TO ACTION, instead of talking, Buffalo would be far ahead of its current state.

 

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