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Dynamic Perry Street project should be fast tracked

October 30, 2012

A super group of business entities that occupy various areas around Canalside and the Cobblestone District have joined forces in hopes of adding streetscape improvements to Perry Street and the area around Canalside.

As reported by Buffalo Rising, Seneca Gaming, the Sabres, Savarino Companies and HSBC have all voiced support of a project that will connect Canalside with its neighbors around the larger arena and entertainment district with an impressive set of streetscape upgrades.

From the Buffalo Rising report:

The primary goal of the project is to enhance the visual appeal and experience of the corridor and to link the areas entertainment and retail connections. Design highlights:

  • Widen the pedestrian corridors by shifting parking away from the sidewalk in some locations and using unique and sculptural screening elements to buffer the lots. The screening elements would be reminiscent of the area’s industrial past.
  • Provide unique and consistent catenary street lighting to visually reinforce linkages between destinations.
  • Use artistic lighting accents and aerial lighting canopies over crosswalks to highlight key nodes.
  • Install curving and colorful pavement design to evoke a waterfront theme and allow for seating opportunities, landscape buffer treatments and trees.
  • Plant a double rows of trees on each side of the street to create a canopied walkway with permeable concrete and structural soils beneath to establish desirable growing conditions.
  • Use cobblestone materials for benches, planter curbs, and other features to unify the look of the street with the rest of the Cobblestone District.
  • Improve street aesthetics and safety with new safe pedestrian crossings, line-striped crosswalks, and pavement overlays, including well-defined and buffered bicycle lanes.
  • Utilize wayfinding signage to provide directions to pedestrians, drivers and cyclers.

The design renderings and proposals paint a picture of a vastly improved Perry Street that will serve as a gateway to the Cobblestone District, FNC and Canalside while also connecting to the Ohio Street improvement project that has been floated earlier this year.

The one thing that Canalside is desperately lacking is significant welcome signage to indicate to visitors where they are. Obviously the construction projects in the area need to be completed before any significant signage can be added. But that type of signage should be high on the list of “lighter, quicker, cheaper” additions to be added once major construction is complete.

While the vast majority of improvements will be centralized to Perry Street, other streetscape additions will be added to the other streets in the Cobblestone District. The Seneca Casino and Canalside will enjoy the biggest benefit as the Perry Street improvements will end right on their doorstep. The Sabres are also due to gain from this as the Alumni Plaza is to get some new pavement that will mimic the design of the atrium floor.

While the improvements to the FNC plaza and the benefit to Canalside and the Casino are minimal, they’re all small parts to a greater whole. For me, the coolest part is the integration with the two FNC lots that front Perry. The curved pavement and additions of cobblestone themed benches along with “screening elements to reflect the industrial past” that will buffer those lots are an awesome addition, mainly because I’m a sucker for interpretive signage and design elements.

What would be more than ideal is for this project to spur action from the Sabres with regard to those lots. Perhaps the added aesthetics in the area will draw more businesses to the area and those lots will turn into something more than surface parking. The strip of properties on Mississippi St. will certainly gain some much needed exposure and a little bit of help from the TLC the area will get. Maybe the improvements will also draw more business to the area.

Seeing that the Sabres and Senecas are involved in this is equally interesting and encouraging. First, it shows the Sabres’ continued willingness to be actively involved in improving the area around the arena. Terry Pegula showed that he wasn’t going to sit idly by and let project progress slowly with his donation for “Terry’s Turf”. The HARBORcenter and Alumni Plaza are two more perfect examples that the Sabres want to be in the middle of these developments while putting any projects on the fast track.

The Senecas’ involvement is also interesting for a different reason. Many doubted their willingness to support the area around their casino when they announced plans for a scaled back project. However, they funded the design work and are clearly making sure to make good on their agreement to be a partner in revitalizing the area. Having them involved is encouraging and could hopefully lead to further partnerships down the line.

Hopefully the city doesn’t even think twice about this project. It will only serve to complement the Ohio St. project and Canalside. It will add a very pleasing atmosphere to a street that will ultimately serve as a primary connection to a number of significant venues downtown.

 

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