Niagara Waterfront Opportunity Area: Remaking the Buffalo Avenue corridor and the upper Niagara River waterfront
The City of Niagara Falls has completed a strategy to revitalize the Buffalo Avenue Corridor to re-connect our city to the Niagara River waterfront, re-use land and buildings in the area, and re-vitalize our economy.
The project was funded by a grant from the State of New York and focused on strategic developments along Buffalo Avenue, the Niagara River waterfront and other areas in the 1,800 acres between Interstate 190 and Portage Road.
The final plan recommends development, redevelopment, and repurposing of property at five strategic sites throughout the corridor including the intersection of Hyde Park and Buffalo Avenue; the Adams Transformer Plant; LaSalle Gateway; Niagara Falls Boulevard; and the Niagara Scenic Parkway.
Where it’s happening
The Niagara Opportunity area encompasses roughly 1,800 acres of active businesses, underutilized property, environmentally compromised land, transportation infrastructure, and residential neighborhoods in need of revitalization.
The area is bounded by Interstate 190 on the east, the Niagara River on the south, and Portage Road on the west. The generally northern boundary of the project area runs along Niagara Street, Hyde Park Boulevard, Pine Avenue, Niagara Falls Boulevard, Packard Road, 47th Street, Niagara Falls Boulevard (again), 56th Street, and the southern edge of the Republic Service Pine Avenue Landfill.
What it’s all about
The Waterfront Opportunity Area in the Buffalo Avenue Corridor was created to provide the City of Niagara Falls with mixed use redevelopment opportunities that will exploit and enhance exceptional transportation access and advantageous waterfront proximity while reducing environmental risks, improving neighborhood quality of life, encouraging growth of existing businesses and promoting “green” development.
Goals of the project included:
- Induce redevelopment of underutilized and vacant properties in the Buffalo Avenue Corridor
- Improve access to the Niagara River
- Focus on infrastructure improvements to drive economic development projects
- Provide opportunities for recreation and culture
- Connect the strategic sites to each other, the Niagara River, and residential neighborhoods with improved multi-modal connections
- Infill vacant and underutilized sites to create pedestrian oriented areas
- Recognize and build upon existing businesses and investment in the corridor
- Celebrate gateways
What was done
Work on the strategy was intended to marry strong municipal leadership with ongoing public and stakeholder engagement and sound technical advice from a team of professionals. The work began in May 2015 and was completed in the fall of 2017.
Step one involved an audit and update of earlier work on the Buffalo Avenue Corridor and a review by citizens and stakeholders – property owners, business owners, advocacy organizations and others – of preliminary concepts and the draft vision statement. See the section The Public for more details on the public engagement process.
Step two focused on the development and refinement of project concepts and the overall strategy leading to a public review of work in progress in mid-fall 2015.
Step three involved the selection of strategic sites and projects for inclusion in a final plan for the Niagara Waterfront Opportunity area and a final public review of the plan. (See the map at right for an early analysis of potential strategic sites).
Who’s behind the project
The Niagara Opportunity project was a complex endeavor that required involvement by multiple public sector agencies, an array of technical consultants, and broad stakeholder and public participation.
The City of Niagara Falls is the project sponsor and recipient of a New York State grant provided by the New York State Department of State, which will provide continuing project oversight. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will provide advice on environmental remediation in the project area, and the Niagara County Center for Economic Development will assist with financing and technical assistance on the redevelopment of selected sites.
LaBella Associates led a multi-disciplinary consulting team to develop an action plan for the area. Their areas of expertise included planning, civil engineering, architecture, and environmental impact analysis as well as project management. Parsons Brinckerhoff provided transportation planning services. The legal firm, Harris Beach PLLC, provided land ownership and liability analysis. RKG Associates Inc., economic planning and real estate consultants, provided economic and market analysis. CBRE Buffalo provided additional real estate analysis. The UB Regional Institute led the public outreach process and provided advice on urban design. ANPRA brought expertise in community development and green infrastructure. Trowbridge Wolf Michaels Landscape Architects contributed landscape design expertise.