Bringing people downtown to live, work and play is critical to Buffalo's future, and it is vitally important that the community help design ways to achieve that goal. So it's good to see that stakeholders are making efforts to bring the public in for an upcoming charette on downtown living.
The Buffalo Niagara Partnership has taken the lead in this effort by bringing in key experts, such as the American Institute of Architects. The institute, in turn, dispatched a Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team.
The team has been preparing for the community forum, scheduled to take place March 24. The public will be asked to give its opinions and comments about what it wants in downtown living. The exact details of the time and location will be posted at www.buffalorudat.org.
Residents, both from Buffalo and the suburbs, have a unique opportunity to shape how downtown living will unfold. The responsibility of shaping our community should not be taken lightly. Nor should anyone shrug off his or her duty in helping to build downtown. This is a chance to address the issue at the grass-roots level.
A few things are already happening to spur residential development downtown.
Ellicott Development is converting the Berger building into rental units with a commercial base and on-site parking. Another middle-range project, of 239 units, is being proposed for development by Signature Management Corp, based in Erie, Pa., for the Trico building on the northeast side of downtown, also with retail and on-site parking.
The city is also trying to abolish outdated city building codes that add expense to renovation work without improving safety. New building codes that make conversion less expensive without compromising safety are moving along in the approval process.
The charette will allow the public to help in the development of a blueprint for downtown living. Community leaders have been criticized for not involving the public in major development decisions (see Peace Bridge in your programs). This time it's being done right. Those who have a stake in the future of downtown should take advantage.