Dynamic Perry Street project should be fast tracked

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. Continue reading

Calling Cobblestone: Take some hints from the Distillery District

One of the most under-utilized neighborhoods in the city is the Cobblestone District. Hampered by the pair of massive arena lots that occupy two of the blocks that make up the area, the District itself is little more than on square block of densely packed buildings.

Once before, I explored some ideas for the Cobblestone District and it was on a relatively big scale. Rather than recycle thoughts from that post, I want to explore how to duplicate the Distillery District in Toronto in the existing structure of the Cobblestone District.

The view of the boarded smith shop (right) and other properties in Cobblestone that are ripe for development.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Distillery District, it is basically a pedestrian-centric neighborhood that occupies a very well-preserved whiskey distillery in Toronto. It is located a short drive from the proper city center and has an interesting mix of gallery space, boutiques and restaurants. The pedestrian-first design is quite popular thanks to the size of Toronto and nearby residential space. In fact, there are a pair of modern, high-rise residential (and mixed-use hotel) developments currently being built in the area. Once those projects are complete, the District will be a historic neighborhood with an industrial feel that serves a number of large populations driven from the new builds in addition to others coming from downtown.

What is truly brilliant about the Distillery District is not only the historical integrity that has been upheld in the core portion of the neighborhood, but the willingness to allow contemporary additions to be made to the area. In fact, a number of the new builds have taken facades and other pieces from former buildings that previously occupied specific locations. To specify (see pictures), this isn’t an adaptive re-use, but a new building basically constructed with some of the bones and skin from the older buildings included. Surely ideas as progressive as this would make such preservation fore-runners like Tim Tielman soil their trousers. Continue reading

Helium adds a new wrinkle to Cobblestone

What was supposed to be a post about the arrival of a new comedy club down in the Cobblestone District morphed into something totally different. Instead of talking about Helium Comedy Club taking over in the space that formerly housed Morrisey’s and Benchwarmers became thoughts on the need for more people in the area around First Niagara Center.

However, I still wanted to explore what could come of Cobblestone’s newest tenant.

The fact that there is going to be a full-fledged comedy club down in the heart of the arena district is huge. The only drawback is the lack of your traditional bar/restaurant with the departure of Morriseys and Benchwarmers. However, this has the potential to be self-sustaining to a degree.

While Morrisey’s and Benchwarmers likely ebbed and flowed with hockey season, Helium has the ability to become a destination all by itself. The key will be booking solid acts on a regular occasion while also providing a solid regular lineup.

I’m no expert on the comedy scene, so I’m not sure how big of a room Helium will have as compared to the type of club which land relatively solid acts. Regardless, I think it will be key to ensure the long-term success of the club. It will be particularly important in the early going as the casino, Webster Block and Donovan Buildings are built out. Continue reading