Buffalo Pipe Dream: A better use for the Cobblestone Parking District

Note the four massive parking lots smack in the middle of this “district”.

With a trio of pipe dreams on paper, I thought I would share another idea I have been mulling for some time. This will revolve around two massive parking lots and one densely packed neighborhood otherwise known as the Cobblestone District.

Let’s call a spade a spade. The Cobblestone District is horribly named. It should be the Cobblestone Parking District. After all, 75% of the neighborhood is composed of two massive surface lots that are kept empty expect for 100 days a year when the arena is in use. These lots were spawned due to the construction of the arena, but I can’t imagine that this was the only use that planners could have come up with for two such massive pieces of land.

The one surviving block has become a well-used strip of property with some terrific re-use projects anchoring the side of the block that fronts Mississippi St. The back side (Illinois St.) leaves much to be desired, but most of the buildings are at least occupied at this time. There is still a massive black hole in the old smith shop on the corner of South Park and Illinois that has slowly become an albatross for the neighborhood and the building owner. There are plenty of great re-use ideas on the table for that property, but I doubt anything will ever come of it.

A photo from Buffalo Rising showing a terrific re-use for the empty smith shop in the Cobblestone District.

As for the rest; there is nothing. Literally nothing. The streets are paved with Cobblestones but they are utterly pointless as there is nothing that they lead to. This needs to change. There is a slow trickle of development happening on the waterfront and the Buffalo Creek Casino appears to be poised to grow out of the pathetic steel building it currently occupies. By the time these two pieces of the puzzle are complete, I will be 50; but I digress.

The Cobblestone District sits between two very important pieces of Buffalo’s entertainment district. Canalside and the arena make up one bookend and the casino makes up the other. There is a tremendous opportunity for this district to become something similar to Toronto’s Distillery District and act as a solid filler for two major pieces of entertainment in the city. However, the massive plain of concrete needs to rise into something better. I think I may have a solution – or, at least part of one. Continue reading

Preservation vs. Obstruction

Sam Savarino and Roger Trettel are very smart men. They have created very successful real estate companies and have taken the reigns in helping to develop what is left of the Cobblestone District.


This needs to happen

One if their neighbors, Daryl Carr (owner of Cobblestone) has been trying to demolish a set of buildings on the corner of Illinois and South Park for some time. What will replace them is up for debate, but it seems like parking lot is where the spinning wheel of ‘progress’ may land. Continue reading

Buffalo continues to move backwards

In 2013 HSBC’s lease will run out at the HSBC Tower in downtown Buffalo. The corporation is looking at numerous options in and around the city in addition to remaining in the tower.

The tower is the tallest building in the city and dominates the skyline. It isn’t pretty but, its tall and is a valuable commodity to the city. One prospect that seems to be high on the bank’s list is a new build near the existing Atrium building across the street from HSBC Arena.

This choice is apparently contingent upon the city deeding a piece of property on the Webster block to the Erie Canal Development Corporation. They, in turn, would sell/lease/whatever the land to HSBC for the new build. I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure the parking lot across from the Arena is involved in all of this too. Continue reading

Is Buffalo seriously this cursed?

I was driving through downtown today when I realized; Buffalo has been treading water for the past 10+ years.

There is so much potential for new development and exciting new projects, yet nothing ever gets off the ground. Start in 1997 when the new Peace Bridge was supposed to go up – hope nobody is still holding their breath on that one. Better yet, 2001, Bass Pro signaled that they wanted an anchor store in Buffalo, a short time later they earmarked The Aud as their ideal location. Today, Bass Pro has opened a gazillion (probably more like 10) new stores all over North America. WTF. Continue reading