Our region, specifically our city, has been experiencing a renaissance as of late, fueled in large part by our rediscovery and reutilization of our heritage.
While some in the community look for a downtown football stadium or a new convention center as the next steps in our rebirth, I believe our renaissance will continue with development gravitating toward the East Side of Buffalo.
I believe the East Side’s existing infrastructure, historical building stock, and sense of community will lead to investment and the ongoing resurgence east of Main Street, specifically to the Historic Polonia neighborhood.
Admittedly biased by my volunteer efforts throughout this community and specifically my involvement in the Central Terminal Restoration Corp., I see tremendous potential at a reasonable cost which would ultimately create one of the most dynamic and culturally rich districts in the City.
Anchored by the historic Broadway Market, which now functions as a year round indoor farmers market with community service components, the neighborhood is an extremely short commute from the downtown core, and only one mile from Larkinville. A walkable community, the East Side is home to three cathedrals and other active congregations, interspersed among commercial shopping districts, and intact residential blocks.
Adding to the uniqueness and desirability of the existing district, is the growing urban farming community where Wilson Street Urban Farm and others are re-imagining the vacant lots as active fresh produce producing fields further supporting the growing green initiative inherent to this area.
The potential of this district is where it truly shines. Despite the region’s craft brewing boom, the former Schreiber Brewing facility sits vacant. Imagine a brewery moving into the historic facility reactivating the frescoed tasting room on the second floor.
Equally exciting are the other historic structures in the district such as Union Stock Yard Bank and Eckhardt Department Store who wait patiently for a new use, despite being in remarkably good condition. Both properties are eligible for Historic Tax Credits and other related redevelopment funding.
There is even a growing movement to create a historic designation for the neighborhood in order to make additional properties eligible for grants and tax credits.
The most iconic of the historic structures is the Buffalo Central Terminal, which serves as the southern boundary of the neighborhood. The Central Terminal Restoration Corp. will be reopening the concourse for rentals and events in 2016 while reinstalling utilities and moving forward with other critical projects.
As progress advances on restoration of the 523,000 square foot facility, the public will get an enticing taste of what full building utilization will be like. To accomplish this, the organization will be looking for talented and motivated volunteers to help market and manage the facility, as well as explore critical grant funding to finance renovation efforts.
I would encourage all of those who want to make a difference in Buffalo, especially our region’s future leaders, to get involved now and help re-envision a uniquely Buffalo neighborhood.
Not everyone can buy and redevelop a historic property, but simple acts like volunteering, attending events in the area, or simply shopping at the market all goes a long way to advancing the progress. Buffalo’s renaissance is moving east.
Now is the time to get involved to help change the perception of this neighborhood and create a new reality for Buffalo’s East Side. To learn how you can get involved with redevelopment efforts on the East Side, please visit:
About the Author: Paul Lang serves as Project Architect at Carmina Wood Morris D.P.C. and also is the Vice Chair of Central Terminal Restoration Corp. Paul has worked on many projects in Buffalo, restoring buildings for mixed-use including The Hotel Lafayette.