About 400 street parking spaces in the city's central business district are listed as "no-parking" zones or are not priced right, leaving them unused or underused at a time when downtown parking remains a problem for many, according to Buffalo Place.
The nonprofit business improvement district, which oversees activities along Main Street and adjacent roads, is conducting an "access and infrastructure" study to determine how to better promote the city's core and get more people to come downtown. Part of that study includes a thorough review of both surface and structured parking, to assess whether changes are needed to the availability, cost or ease of parking.
The 400 spaces represent about 15 percent of the 2,700 on-street parking spaces in downtown Buffalo. In all, the city has 37,000 on-street and off-street parking spaces in the downtown area, both publicly available and private. Some are also on state-owned streets, so the city doesn't control them.
Buffalo Place and city officials are studying whether to recommend changes to the rules "to put those spaces to work for us," said Buffalo Place Chairman Keith Belanger, an executive at M&T Bank Corp., during the group's monthly board meeting Wednesday.
For example, some spaces are priced by the hour, but the rates are too low or the spaces could be better used for all-day parking, said city Parking Commissioner Kevin J. Helfer. And some spaces are not regulated at all right now. But not all 400 will change, as there may still be strong reasons to maintain the status quo in some cases, Helfer added.
Buffalo Place officials also reported that:
- Construction bids were due Wednesday for the next phase of Cars Sharing Main Street, involving the stretch of lower Main Street at Canalside.
- The "second edition" of the Queen City Social downtown happy hour program begins July 12 and will run for seven weeks on Wednesdays through Aug. 23, at 5 p.m.
- The increased presence of Buffalo Police downtown isn't due to any threat or problem, but rather to an influx of new officers following the graduation of new recruits from the Police Academy. Until their formal field training begins, the department has assigned some graduates to foot patrols at Canalside, Chippewa Street and other areas under the supervision of academy staff.
"New recruits like being in that area, as well," said Central District Police Chief Joseph Gramaglia. "They're out there with their hats, looking sharp."