2.5 A Land Use Concept for 2030

Most of Buffalo’s land uses will remain the same as implementation of the Comprehensive Plan proceeds, but there will be some important changes in land use as the city pursues its future. Buffalo’s urban form and structure were established with Ellicott’s radial and grid plan in 1804, reinforced by Olmsted’s park and parkway plan in the late 19th century, and set early in the 20th century when the city reached full build-out. Most of the city’s land uses have been stable since then, and will stay in their present configurations as the rebuilding of the city proceeds over the next twenty years. However, key changes over the duration of the Comprehensive Plan (See Figure 58) will include the following: 

  • Expansion of the Downtown to include inner ring neighborhoods, as already defined in The Queen City Hub plan;

  • Changing land uses Downtown to implement key investment initiatives, including infill housing and mixed use;

  • Redevelopment of the three Strategic Investment Corridors: Waterfront/ Tonawanda, Main Street/ Downtown, and the South Park/ East Side Rail;

  • Changes in land use for some former industrial sites (brownfields) as their redevelopment provides for a broader diversity of uses including new industrial, commercial, open space and mixed uses;

  • Possible changes in use around the Peace Bridge to accommodate the expansion of the bridge and reconfiguration of the U.S. Plaza, reinforcing the commercial character of Niagara Street and possibly allowing recovery of park land and historic Fort Porter.

  • Changes in use to accommodate the regional transportation plan, particularly in transit corridors;

  • Changes in use to accommodate the new Buffalo Waterfront, as the LWRP and Waterfront Corridor Initiative are implemented;

  • Changes in use in the eastern part of the city to provide for the expansion of park space needed to bring Buffalo up to State standards for park land;

  • Changes in use in the eastern or southern parts of the city to facilitate the provision of big box retail (power centers) in Buffalo; and,

  • Changes in use for individual buildings or sets of buildings (blocks or precincts) where new uses are identified and implemented for existing buildings designated to be preserved under the City’s forthcoming Preservation Plan. 

As the rebuilding of the city proceeds, densities in certain Planning Districts will gradually begin to increase back to levels previously existing in the city, and in one or two areas possibly higher. The increase in density will be greatest in and around the expanded downtown, and in certain areas close to the transit corridors and arterials such as Main Street. The restoration of density in these areas will be helpful for land values and will stimulate the restoration of the real estate market. It will also augment the sense of urbanity in the city.

Figure 58 Strategic Investment Corridors

Figure 58 Strategic Investment Corridors (Popup full image) 

Three primary investment corridors tie the city together, overlap with many of the Joint Schools Construction Board phase one sites, build on the Ellicott Radial and Olmsted Park and Parkway System links to downtown and the water, and offer significant available land for much of Buffalo’s 21st Century economy.

The Comprehensive Plan has been developed on the premise that every capital project implemented under its authority will integrate economic, environmental and community considerations. From the environmental perspective, this means that every project should be planned and carried out in an environmentally benign manner. The end result should be a city that has a healthy ecosystem with clean air, land and water that sustains both human and non-human life.

To give full effect to this concept plan, the City’s zoning ordinance needs to be revised in keeping with it, urban design guidelines need to be introduced, and secondary plans for the City’s Planning Districts need to be completed.