Parking should be modest at downtown grocery store
Mayor Byron Brown recently announced a future downtown grocery store, replacing a parking lot with something city residents have needed for years. This is welcome news! Ironically, one of the stated impediments is the need for parking at the store.
This is an old song and an outdated one. The redesign of urban cores is increasingly seen as an opportunity for “transit-oriented development” – a 21st century urbanism that minimizes parking with mixed-use communities served by transit and comfortable for walking and biking. Large parking structures like that envisioned for the new store work against this goal. The new Buffalo “Green Code” eliminates onerous parking requirements and embraces transit-oriented development. Sadly, the proposed grocery and apartments revert to the old model where parking is foremost.
This is not to say that there won’t be a need for some parking. Some will surely want to drive to the new store and some apartment residents will own cars. But parking should be modest and not impede the goals of walkability and bike access. It certainly should not obscure and overwhelm the new building itself. The Lexington Co-op on Elmwood Avenue provides a good example – a successful grocery with only limited off-street parking where many customers arrive on foot, by bicycle, or by bus.
Downtown residents seek urban life because it offers amenities and lifestyle without constant driving and parking. One-third of Buffalo families don’t even own cars. Let’s not continue the 1960s Robert Moses style with seas of parking around isolated buildings.
Douglas J. Funke
President, Citizens for Regional Transit