Canalside should piggyback on Perry Street proposal
The proposed Perry Street streetscape project really got some wheels turning for me. The proposed improvements will not only directly impact the businesses in the Cobblestone District, but it will serve as an aesthetically pleasing entryway to the Ohio St. corridor and, more importantly, Canalside.
A point made in my post on the Perry St. proposal included the need for Canalside to eventually get permanent, significantly eye-catching signage for the district once the major construction projects are completed. While there is no doubt of where you are upon arrival to the neighborhood, replacing some of the temporary banners with permanent and dynamic signage should be first on ECHDC’s to-do list.
First off, the identity crisis throughout the historically aligned cobblestone streets needs to be addressed. Some sort of accommodation needs to be made regarding the DOT signs that mark the streets. The steel and blue aluminum signs are beyond out-of-place in what is supposed to be a historic district and that should be addressed. Replace the street and road signs with era-appropriate signage that more accurately depicts “Ye Olde Canal Era”.
What truly interests me, however, is creating a gateway for each of the main entry points for Canalside. The focus being centered on introducing dynamic signage that would indicate exactly where Canalside begins for visitors. The three main locations that I would focus on are coming down Pearl Street, the intersection of Main and Perry along with the spot where Scott, Hanover and Main intersect near the Canal terminus.
The main location for any signage should be at the front door of Canalside, of course. Based on the layout of the entire area, the corner parcel that holds the temporary trailers and Canalside construction sign is a perfect location. It is across from both One Canalside and the Aud site along with the HARBORcenter location. This parcel is also the front door for the Central Wharf.
Based on the location, this is where I would place the main Canalside sign. Since the Canalside logo is pretty nifty, it would look terrific in a backlit, 3D format. Simply remove the trailers and tarp covered board and replace it with a permanent, eye-catching sign.
If you’re looking for an example of what I’m talking about, use this image from one of the early, big-box driven proposals as a guide. Obviously the signage that would be added this time would incorporate the nifty logo used for Canalside and could be located wherever it was deemed to be appropriate. In addition, other secondary signage would likely be added as ECHDC saw fit.
Of note, that location would also be a perfect spot for a large piece of public art similar to Could Gate at Millennium Park in Chicago. Combine a large public art installation with that sign and the corner would serve as a the official welcome point for Canalside.
Perry St. will serve as its own gateway thanks to the Cobblestone Super Group proposal (should it move forward). It wouldn’t hurt to have some sort of over-the-road signage to indicate where Canalside does begin.
Outside of putting in the main sign at the corner of Main and Scott, these street improvements would be somewhat ancillary. However, I’d like to see some serious changes made for those arriving along Pearl or Lower Terrace.
The current entry is littered with poorly maintained overpass supports for the 190. Since the 190 isn’t going anywhere, why not integrate some sort of visual upgrade to the supports to serve as a more pleasing welcome as you head towards Canalside and the Arena District?
This would be more than just slapping a coat of paint on the overpass, but finding a way to incorporate some sort of historic mural or canal-era design. This doesn’t need to be a complete overhaul but simply an improvement so that the otherwise intrusive overpass and supports are integrated as part of the welcome to the district. Whether the paint is specific to Canalside or simply Buffalo’s waterfront heritage is inconsequential. The mission should be to add more personality to that gateway to the area.
Ultimately these small additions will serve to tie the entire neighborhood together. For an area that has been so focused on the “dumber, slower, cheaper” approach, I’m somewhat surprised that this hasn’t been the type of project to be fast tracked.
It would be great to see ECHDC to grab the momentum from the street improvement projects on Ohio and Perry and to roll that into additional streetscape and other improvements in and around Canalside as the project inches closer towards being a major attraction for the city.