Convert, don’t Build

Any­one fol­low­ing the Adel­phia bid to build a huge sky­scraper on the Buf­fa­lo water­front, has to laugh at the company’s deter­mi­na­tion to get it done. The com­pa­ny is hav­ing Enron-like finan­cial woes, yet still wants to build this tow­er in a city that has com­mer­cial vacan­cy rates that rival occu­pan­cy rates. I’m not say­ing the Adel­phia project is a mis­take, how­ev­er I think peo­ple aren’t focus­ing prop­er­ly on how to fos­ter the 24-hour down­town a vibrant city needs.

First, I think, you need to lure peo­ple who work in the city to also live in the city. Cities have cer­tain advan­tages to offer: A con­cen­tra­tion of local busi­ness­es and ser­vices with­in walk­ing dis­tance (or by train), includ­ing restau­rants, arts and cul­tur­al offer­ings, and shops. Instead of infill­ing the city with sub­ur­ban-type devel­op­ments (main place mall), or huge gat­ed res­i­den­tial projects, why not play off the strengths of city-liv­ing, by revi­tal­iz­ing dense, mixed-use neigh­bor­hoods, and pro­vide a hous­ing alter­na­tive for peo­ple?

I’ve been encour­aged to see, as I have point­ed out in my blog, that devel­op­ers in Buf­fa­lo are tak­ing inter­est in con­vert­ing old com­mer­cial and indus­tri­al space into res­i­den­tial hous­ing (lofts.) It’s been shown to make mon­ey, and I think that might be the cat­a­lyst for a true down­town recov­ery. The kinds of peo­ple look­ing for this kind of hous­ing have been will­ing to pay upwards of $1000 for a one-bed­room loft—(incidentally, in boston that would be a bar­gain, but in buf­fa­lo! My god, that’s no bargain)—so they must have mon­ey, and need ser­vices like gro­ceries, restau­rants, and bars. Presto!, urban renew­al… You don’t need to throw cat­a­clysmic mon­ey into develp­ing a new sky­scraper, when the mar­ket­place can do you just as good.

3 Responses to “Convert, don’t Build”


Comments are currently closed.