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Thread: Buffalo suburbs are interesting

  1. #1
         
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    Buffalo suburbs are interesting

    Buffalo suburbs are very different than Syracuse's suburbs. Here are a few examples:

    hotels like this:


    old redesigned strip plazas with a color scheme


    a big stadium out in the middle of nowhere (almost)


    architectural detail for shopping centers and restaurants (nothing like this in Syracuse)




    green roof topped housing


    old housing set way back from the road (it's as though they knew the road would become wide


    again, don't see these type of buildings in the Syracuse area


    overall Buffalo suburbs have a lot of sidewalks, well designed shopping centers, good landscaping, and are growing much faster than Syracuse's suburbs


    I think some cities, including Syracuse, could take some tips from the Buffalo area.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian UpstateNYRox's avatar
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    It looks like you started out at the Williamsville/Cheektowaga border near the airport and headed south along Transit Road through the sprawling burb of Lancaster down to the Southtowns of Orchard Park and Hamburg along Milestrip Road which are also seeing lots of new development and growth. Many people fail to realize that the population of the Buffalo metro outside the city limits is actually increasing and the photos represent pretty accurately what the outer suburban areas are like. Its a shame areas like those are booming with new commercial and residential while the city proper is missing out on the party.


    Last edited by UpstateNYRox; 21 Apr 2004 at 1:00 AM.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    bizzo, Leon Krier says it doesn't make any difference what you build in the suburbs. I could use your post to illustrate his thesis.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by bizzo34
    I think some cities, including Syracuse, could take some tips from the Buffalo area.
    What tips? Continue to develop greenland and sprawl out while the county's population as a whole continues to decline? Investing tax-payers money in low-density development? This development is only being fueled by the decline of the city and inner suburbs.

    You mention there is lots of sidewalks but nobody uses them, because if you try to even cross the four lane or six lane roads that are running over capacity you'll get run over.

    Overall, I think these suburbs look the same as anywhere else.
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    Unless there's more to the Buffalo suburbs that what's indicated in these pictures, I would have to agree with Rumpy in that these suburbs look like any other typical suburb anywhere else.

    Those strip malls may look different than the typical box, but overall, I think they are still very uninspiring. I don't think that an urban type of design is necessarily the best thing for a suburb, but what I see in these pictures and what I've seen in the other suburban areas don't seem to work either.

    BTW, what's the deal with that hotel? It looks like an expanded KFC with toy soldiers and fake snow around the perimeter.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  6. #6
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    I think bizzo was probably saying that the architecture and design of the centers are better than that in the Syracuse area. I agree that when you have bad development pattersns, such as suburban, and the political will is small, it is extremely difficult to get any 'improvement' in architecture or design over the standard corporate box and plan.....and that may be the case in Syracuse?

    Some of the architecture shown is nice, middle-of-the-road improvement over the standard designs. However, its not a goal I would encourage to be established for a community.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  7. #7

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    Yeah, the sidewalks are nice, but otherwise this looks like run-of-the-mill examples from The National Automotive Slum. Chain restaurants, fry pits, oil and lubes, and lots and lots of big parking lots with nary a tree in sight. The Starbucks is a little better than average, but...an example for anything? Suburban Syracuse must be really, really bad.

  8. #8
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Da' joys of suburban Buf'flo der ...



    Having worked in suburban areas around the United States, I feel confident in saying that Buffalo tends to be about 10 to 15 years behind the curve -- at least compared to other US cities -- when it comes to architectural and site design of suburban commercial development. If that's really the case, I shudder to think about what's being built in Syracuse.

    Point-by-point - why are Buffalo's suburban retail districts behind the times?

    * Except for Amherst, Buffalo's suburbs don't have planning departments.

    * Most of Buffalo's suburbs don't have architectural design regulations. High-quality architectural materials, hardscaping, parking lot landscaping, four-sided design, and varying building lines to provide texture isn't something that's considered as much as in many other parts of the country.

    * Buffalo's suburbs don't have the anything-goes sign regulations of Texas or Georgia, but they aren't tough like what you would see in suburban Denver, Cleveland, Kansas City or Phoenix. Niagara County municipalities and the eastern suburbs (West Seneca, Cheektowaga, Lancaster, Depew) have the most lenient sign regulations, the Southtowns the strictest, the Northtowns in-between. A typical freestanding business would have a 20' or 25' tall pole sign; not the 6' tall monument sign of a business in suburban Cleveland or Phoenix, but fortunately not the 100' tall monster of an eqivalent establishment in suburban Atlanta or along a Texas frontage road.

    * Because the economy in Buffalo is stagnant, suburban redevelopment hasn't occured at the pace of other cities. There are few economic pressures to redevelop commercial buildings and shopping centers from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Suburban Buffalo has an unusually large number of bland, utilitarian jet-age plazas (or, in a Buffalo accent, "ple-aaaaeh-suhs") from the pre-mall era; Sheridan-Delaware Plaza, Sheridan-Harlem Plaza, Northtown, Transittown, Airport Plaza, and Southgate are the ones that come to mind now. One department store, one supermarket, a space for what was called a "junior department store," and tons of fabric shops, Greek restaurants, orthopedic shoe stores and Hallmark card shops inbetween. No landscaping, no architectural embellishment, no seating areas, no nothing but stores and parking. Kunstler would swear like a Night at the Apollo comedian if he saw a 1950s-era suburban Buffalo shopping center.

    * Another "everywhere but Buffalo" phenomenon - lifestyle centers. 'Nuff said - I don't want to get into that debate anymore.

    Quote Originally posted by Planderella
    BTW, what's the deal with that hotel? It looks like an expanded KFC with toy soldiers and fake snow around the perimeter.
    Garden Place Hotel. Owned by the same people that own Salvatore's Italian Garden, a nearby Italian restaurant. To say that Salvatore's is gaudy would be an understatement.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  9. #9
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Another thing to note:

    With almost no population growth in Erie County. From http://www.lwvbn.org ...











    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  10. #10
         
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    I hope these pictures are not indicative of the best of Buffalo's suburbs. The architecture is very ho-hum if not unattractive, and the sidewalks aren't even consistent. Couldn't even make out a good skate spot--a nice ledge, gap or anything! Must be tough being a kid here. And where are the people in the pics? In bizzo34's defense I located one crosswalk light, but that's just one positive element.

  11. #11
    Not sure why the original poster decided to pick on Syracuse. I would put all upstate cities in the same category of horrible and no design guidelines. What I saw in Buffalo was not good. Been to both cities, I would give Syracuse a thumbs up on Buffalo. They have issues of sprawl, but with the university area and downtown getting fixed up, it just seems like it had more going for it.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian ChevyChaseDC's avatar
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    I see zero to brag about in these photos. Strip malls with acres of parking, whether they have turrets, cuppolas, and small quaint signs, are otherwise pretty much the same from Buffalo to Tampa to San Diego. If this is the "progress" the Buffalo region has made, then no wonder so many of Buffalo's young people leave en masse.

  13. #13
         
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    Compared to Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor, Cleveland, Toledo, Buffalo, and Rochester.....Syracuse has ugly suburbs. An average person (non planner) is turned off by the Syracuse suburbs because it looks untidy, and unmodern. Most of the suburbs were built in the 70s and 80s and very little new development has happened since.

    Here are some examples of no landscaping, ugly designs, and just a plain messy built environment :

    no landscaping


    brush


    old ugly abandoned gas stations


    wetlands in front of power strip malls


    unattractive architecture


    speaks for itself


    ugly new houses


    wal-marts at there worst


    worn out road markings are common


    can you say ugly


    strip malls with no design standards


    ugly townhomes


    if you could see it, it's really bad


    you gotta love industry on main roads next to residential


    this is a "major intersection" between Route 31 and Lakeshore


    more ugliness


    newly painted "burlington coat factory" (doesn't it look great LOL)


    Sorry if I got too carried away

  14. #14
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    It's hard to compare 70s/80s retail and zoning to 90s/00s retail development. So many things have changed in marketing, zoning, and planning.

    I could go around any suburban area built in the 70s and 80s and come up with an equal number of horribly designed commercial areas. I could also go around to any 90s/00s commercial area and find dozens of examples that reflect the buffalo suburbs.

    Some of those Syracuse 'burbs shots were just inhumane. horrible.

    At least the shots of the Buffalo 'burbs were nearing tolerable.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  15. #15

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    Well, as bad as it is, there is really little difference between these last photos, and, to my eyes, your first set. Edit: I guess what I really mean to say is that a few extra plastic and plaster trim pieces don't make a cityscape significantly better. The older stuff from the 1950s and 60s in Syracuse does reflect an older, uglier era, but aso a more innocent, less "sophisticated" era. I dislike the theme architecture in many of the Buffalo examples-that just reflects my taste.

    Our defensive reaction was more to the cheerleading, I think. We are a cynical bunch

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Change the names of the streets in the suburbs here and I'd swear I was in the suburbs there. Looks the same. :-P
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

  17. #17
         
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    Well, at least now you understand where I'm coming from. When I see what you call "tolerable" suburban development in other cities, I get jealous.

    Any suggestions in how I would go about making suburban Syracuse development more tolerable? Why do other suburbs look so much better? Is it the leadership or the developers or.....something else?

    BTW, Syracuse is known locally for accepting mediocrity.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by bizzo34
    BTW, Syracuse is known locally for accepting mediocrity.
    You've said it all right there. If you plan for well developed and designed retail.. you can demand it. If your community doesn't have a retail development plan, you get stuck with whatever design the developer brings forward, you don't have the leverage to require standards or guidelines to be met.

    The community I work for is begining to get excited about architectural review for commercial/residential/etc., but they are so damn scared of being sued that they won't do it. There's tons and tons of state and national precendence that shows that architectural review is an accpetable use of local police powers.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  19. #19
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Nobody can accouse Wal-Mart of not catering to the needs and desires of their host community. Look at what they did with their Cheektowaga store, for instance ...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails buffalo_walmart.jpg  
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Where's the roll back on Sister Angelica dolls? LMAO, but Dan, where are the knomes?
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

  21. #21
    Quote Originally posted by bizzo34
    Why do other suburbs look so much better? Is it the leadership or the developers or.....something else?
    Sadly I'd say it's age of the suburbs, wealth of the residents, or even better a combination of both. The old inner-ring suburbs of Philadelphia are the prettiest, along with the most wealthy outer-ring suburbs like Doylestown which can afford to retain their pre-automotive small-town cluster.

    Nobody's building sustainable communities anymore, so the best examples are by far the old ones.

  22. #22
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    bizzo, have you looked through the Best Practices Gallery here? You'll see some examples of commercial development, in a vehicle-oriented suburban context, that will make you truly weep for upstate New York.

    Some of the examples, like those from Colorado, are becoming the norm there.





    Many of the New Hampshire examples uploaded by NHPlanner would fit well in the environment of upstate NY.

    I should take some photos of Legacy Village, a lifestyle center near me. Think Benderson will ever build one of these in Buffalo? What about Pyramid in Syracuse? I doubt it.











    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  23. #23

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    I have a couple of problems with your images, Dan, as lovely as they are:

    1. Lifestyle Centers are only a tiny part of the overall suburban landscape-and they require an affluent, growing, population. To show these and assume that this is anywhere a norm that can be expected is unrealistic. Not that Syracuse couldn't maybe support one of these in one of its upscale enclaves.

    2.Shouldn't Syracuse instead be pushing for its upscale development to be centered in a place like Arsenal Square, with more locally owned businesses. Especially since many of the standard Haute-Generica retailers won't look at a semi-stagnant economy like Syracuse anyway? Can Syracuse support more than one upscale enclave?

    3. The Colorado example is much better. To my tastes, though, you are prettying up a problematic land use/transportation pattern. But, that's not really a response to bizzo's problem, or the typical problem we as suburban planners face, because the six lane roadways and giant parking lots are not going away.

    4. Still, a Wal Mart is Wal Mart, even if its covered in fake brick panels and has extra foam curlicues and fake pre-cast columns that often look pretty awful anyway. And, the parking lot landscaping rarely thrives (our WalMArt is one exception, actually).

    5. Maybe our buildings should reflect our society. Since we want low prices above all else, convenient one-stop shopping, easy parking for our Lincoln Navigators, and nationally advertized retailers, and since we, as a people, care little about our built environment, why should government planners try to impose extra, expensive gimmicks on industrial sheds? The gimmicks really don't work very well, the vast majority of people don't care anyway, and they add costs to a business community that has no local pride, no local connections, and no roots.

    Boy, that's quite a gloomy rant!

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    BKM, you make some good points. As I see it, there are a couple of reasons why places like Syracuse and Buffalo and their suburbs don't have better-quality development. One: The communities themselves (or their planning boards) are so desperate for development, they don't push for higher standards. Take design guidelines, for example. You won't find them in many upstate NY suburbs. Two: as BKM notes, some of these retail developments require an "affluent, growing population." Exactly. Upstate New York is continuing to lose population. Of course, there are many affluent communities, but you won't find lifestyle centers or other cutting-edge (ha) types of development. And three: The declining property tax base has reduced the funding available for the attractive (?) roadways and streetscapes that you'll find in southern and western states. Too many communities are struggling financially. And the state's tradition of home rule makes regional approaches to these issues non-existent. These are just a few ideas.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    lifestyle centers and stagnet economic areas

    As DecaturHawk once stated, "Central Illinois is hardly the garden of the Midwest." It's true, the Peoria area is heavily dependent upon industrial uses and historically did not have a large, upper-middle class population. However, there has been a growing population of medical and technical professionals of late.

    In response to the shifting demographics, not necessarily growing population, local developers were able to convince some high-end or trendy retailers to locate in town and a proposed lifestyle center. The center has done much better than expectations and seems to have opened the door for other aging, similar communities to have the same class of national retailer.

    The Shoppes

    This area is desperate for any economic growth, and design/material requirements were not addressed, but it turned out fairly ok.

    The Peoria MSA is only 360,000. Peoria is still looked at as a microcosm of America. Marketers use it as a test market for many new products and to see if certain store formats or retail types will "play in Peoria". So far, Peoria has proven that a high(er)-end retail environment can succeed in even the most modest metro markets.

    Good quality development does not always require a wealthy population. I believe it does require a strong political commitment and good commercial or area plan that addresses what the city values and what it does not see as desirable.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

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