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Unbuilt Buffalo

Dan

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Reflecting on Audubon Village and the Amherst that could have been, I wondered about other unbuilt large-scale projects that could have changed the face of the region. Those that I can think of off the top of my head include:

* Complete Olmsted parks and parkway system (late 1800s)
* Grand Union Station (late 1800s)
* Audubon Village (1930s)
* Buffalo City Hall tower extension (provisions in design of original structure)
* The completed Audubon New Town (extending north of I-990 to Tonawanda Creek Road) (late 1970s)
* The domed stadium in Lancaster (early 1970s)
* Several expressways: mainly the Crosstown Expressway, Lancaster Expressway, Outer Beltway, and the West Side Expressway. (1960s-1970s)
* Marine Midland Tower 2 (late 1960s/early 1970s)
* High rise office tower on Main Street at the southeast corner of Main and Eagle (late 1980s)
* Adelphia Tower (late 1990s/early 2000s)
* ABC - Amherst-Buffalo Corridor, a dense Toronto-style arrangement of high rise apartments in Northeast Buffalo (early 1970s)
* Main Street Mall and the full heavy rail transit system (early 1970s)
* Niagara Jetport in Pendleton: replacement for Buffalo International Airport (early 1970s?)
* All-American Canal (1800s-1970s)
* New Hyatt Regency tower (late 1970s-early 1980s)
* New York Central electrification of the Buffalo-NYC rail corridor (1920s)
* Peace Bridge signature span (late 1990s-early 2000s) :D
* McKinley Mall second level (late 1980s)

Any others that you can think of?
 

The One

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Well.....

Looks like Rumpy will have his hands full in Buffalo:-c I'm waiting for his response to this laundry list of issues......:-o
 

bflo_la

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Dan,

A few others...

* Seaway Tower(s) (was to be located next to HSBC) mid 80's

* New convention center and hotel tower (M&T's Washington street sea of parking) late 90's

*50 story waterfront condo (Rendering sooo not believable) - early 2000's

* The Save Your Unborn Baby Watefront Arch

* World Trade Center (plans 1 and 2) was to have been located within the vicinity of the Peace Bridge --- one or two towers, one possibly 50-60 stories

*35-45 story tower proposed for an empty lot next to Pilot Field - late 80's

*The original UB Amherst plan - conceptually considered at one time to be constructed as one building.
 
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jsk1983

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I'm sure some of you have seen this before, but this is a map from a 1954 Erie County Planning Report.

ebay2_177.jpg

This image is from 1966-67 Biennial Report for the Town of Amherst. Pretty sure it was never built.

williamsville_006.jpg
 
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jsk1983

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I was at the Walden Super Flea a few weeks ago and came across a booklet on the proposed Humboldt Park Music Hall from I'd assume the 1930s. I believe this was an E.B. Green work but was obviously never built. The booklet includes renderings, floor plans, sight plans, etc. I just moved so I'm not sure where it is but I'll scan it and post it when I do.
 

jsk1983

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Are you inclined to believe that Issa had seriously intended to see the project through--or rather that he was a flamboyant flipper from the start?:-|
Being from Buffalo I was a bit cynical from the start. Of course not everything proposed here in Chicago (i.e. Chicago Spire) gets built, but still it seems like its worse in Buffalo.
 

Dan

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A few more to add to the list:

* Villa Park - Frederick Law Olmsted-designed development in North Buffalo (late 1800s)

kznf67Y.jpg

* Magical Land of Oz amusement park - Wheatfield (1990s)

jZ6eVNT.jpg

* Renaissance Village - TND in Cheektowaga (2000s)

gLZWzBP.jpg

  • Stony Point Park - now the former site of Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna (late 1800s)
  • E-Zone - planned indoor amusement park on the waterfront (1990s)
  • Ransom Oaks - only a very small portion of the planned community in Amherst was built (1970s)
  • Riverhaven - large planned community in Grand Island (1970s)
  • Largest golf resort in the world, Fort Erie (1920s)

A correction: plans for the All-American Canal, also called the Niagara Ship Canal, began in the 1790s, making it the longest-term unbuilt project in Buffalo's history.
 

Dan

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Add a couple of dead lifestyle center proposals to the list.

* Seneca Place (West Seneca)



YZLmrHL.jpg

* Amherst Town Center (Amherst)

cWqihoz.jpg

cIGMiYO.jpg

A7hEYAP.jpg

ED8zXQN.jpg
 

Doohickie

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Add a couple of dead lifestyle center proposals to the list.

* Seneca Place (West Seneca)

[youtube]Wmv0U3-Gbyk[/youtube]

YZLmrHL.jpg
That kind of looks like something they built in Fort Worth, although without the big event venues. It was an old block of industrial buildings, some torn down and built with new buildings (like the 3-4 story apartment buildings in Seneca Place), and remodeling some of the old industrial stuff into nouveau restaurants, shops and apartments.



It was actually done by several developers, at least 3, and the centerpiece is Montgomery Plaza, an old Montgomery Ward warehouse converted to shops & lofts. Some of the outlying former industrial buildings are still being redeveloped.



This whole thread is kind of interesting, seeing what might have been. The Renaissance Village in Cheektwaga is interesting too.... sprucing up the old Tiorunda public housing tract. I grew up near there (across the Thruway and Genesee).
 
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Buffaboy

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I've seen this list a couple times over the years. A 23-story apartment tower will be built on the Outer Harbor, so it (fortunately) won't make this list.

There was a project called 33 Gates Circle that is in the shelves for now. It's a proposed 23-story tower south that I haven't heard about in 6 or 7 years.

Perhaps the most beneficial of these dead projects IMO would be the Outer Beltway. I'm a Hamburger, so access to the eastern suburbs and I-90 past Clarence would be great.
 
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Dan

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Unbuilt Buffalo airports: first, the big jetport that was going to occupy thousands of acres north of Buffalo, in the Niagara County towns of Wheatfield and Pendleton.

Jl02gmvObFcDRjbczgP2egBwk_PIdRdDZtgJpNH2I2Q.jpg

Earlier plans to expand the Niagara Falls International Airport. 78 gates -- they were optimistic then.

c6gbizb8s6611.jpg

Plan B: placing the airport in the Town of Newstead, about 20-25 miles (30-40 km) east of Buffalo.

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A couple more planned communities where construction started, but they were never built to their originally planned scale.

Ransom Oaks in Amherst.

vMtnp8w.jpg

Riverhaven in Grand Island.

1RGMmis.jpg

When Buffalo's original expressway system was first proposed in 1946, many area planners backed an alternative "Midcity Thruway" routing. Their justification -- it would take New York State Thruway traffic through the center of the city, rather than pass aaround its outskirts, better serving cty residents and those commuting downtown. The alternative plan would have been far more destructive than the original 1946 plan (which ultimately was built, with some modifications), have dealt a huge blow to Buffalo's property tax base, and would have destroyed one of Buffalo's wealthiest neighborhoods, along with many working class East Side neighborhoods, and the city's then-small African-American neighborhood along Michigan Avenue. (Contrary to armchair urbanist belief, when the route of the Kensington Expressway (NY 33) was planned in 1946, all the neighborhoods it passed through were predominantly white ethnic at the time.)

15iufitp7as01.png

Finally, Concept 5. Expressways, a massive new airport, expressways, a domed stadium, more expressways, and an All American Canal providing an alternative to the Welland Canal,

zGXos7ikM327zpveOaJAM8YTpZ-lHZyCpfqUSat2X8k.jpg

The late 1960s/early 1970s was a time when there was a brief flash of intense optimism, and local leaders believed Buffalo was on the cusp of a boom. There was still natural population growth from natural births (big Catholic families were still the rule), and in-migration at the tail end of the Northern Cities Migration. The suburbs were experiencing a building boom, and city neighborhoods were still crowded, despite being kind of run down. There were BIG plans on the drawing board -- All-American Canal, Buffalo Jetport, Lancaster domed stadium -- and a lot of state and federal dollars to make them happen. Also, during that time:
  • Buffalo straddled the boundary between second and third tier cities. Its peers among American cities were the likes of Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, Denver, and Miami. Today, it's more like a fourth tier city -- its peers are places like Louisville, Memphis, Omaha, and ... Rochester.
  • SUNY Buffalo was fairly new, and state officials intended it to be the flagship SUNY center -- like Ohio State, Penn State, University of Michigan, etc -- with an peak enrollment of 40K-80K students.
  • Buffalo was a serious contender for a MLB expansion team. A few years later, it landed the Sabres and Braves. It was one of the smallest metros with three of the "big four" pro sports, and it almost had all four.
  • Buffalo's banking industry had a very high profile for a city its size -- headquarters for Marine Midland (HSBC), and big regional banks like M&T, Liberty, and Erie.
  • The Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant replaced the (destroyed) Schoellkopf power station. Construction brought thousands of new workers into Niagara Falls, reversing that city's slow decline for a short while.
  • The real estate section of the Sunday Courier-Express and Saturday Buffalo Evening News was packed with advertising for new houses and subdivisions; almost like you'd see in a booming Sunbelt city.
  • After decades of post-Depression malaise, there was a sudden and intense burst of major construction projects downtown -- Marine Midland Center, M&T, Main Place Mall, various county/state/federal office buildings, Statler Hilton renovation, and many others on the drawing board. For a couple of decades, those "evil" urban renewal projects returned a LOT of life back into what was a slowly dying downtown. Most people of that era saw urban "grit" as seedy, dangerous, and an indicator of decay and decline -- not something that's "authentic", "real", or desirable.
  • Buffalo's factories were still expanding, or at least humming along. Mass layoffs, closures, and relocation to Southern states and Mexico were years off.
  • Buffalo still had some Fortune 500 companies -- American Gypsum, Houdaille Industries, and a few others -- and its old money families still had a lot of money and pull. The families who names are on streets, museums, and buildings at UB, were still prominent.
TL/DR: Buffalo's spirit of optimism today is nothing compared to the zeitgeist of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The difference - in the 1960s, there was the money and power to turn Buffalo's big plans into reality, even though it didn't always happen. The megaprojects and civic optimism weren't enough to overcome an even stronger "convergence of suck". Same thing for Cleveland, and even more so for Detroit.
 

Doohickie

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first, the big jetport that was going to occupy thousands of acres north of Buffalo, in the Niagara County towns of Wheatfield and Pendleton.
The concept drawing at the top looks like half of DFW Airport, complete with the semicircular terminals.

TL/DR: Buffalo's spirit of optimism today is nothing compared to the zeitgeist of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The difference - in the 1960s, there was the money and power to turn Buffalo's big plans into reality, even though it didn't always happen. The megaprojects and civic optimism weren't enough to overcome an even stronger "convergence of suck". Same thing for Cleveland, and even more so for Detroit.
I grew up in the middle of that. I remember the old AFL Buffalo Bills, and when Buffalo first got the Sabres. The franchise got off to a good start and made the Stanley Cup Finals in 1975, but they never advanced beyond that. I think 1970-ish was a high water mark for the city, because it wasn't too long after that the steep decline started. My mom's entire family (5 brothers) were all laid off from Bethlehem Steel when Japanese steel came in. Until the recent uptick, most of my life has witnessed nothing but decline for Buffalo.

Most people of that era saw urban "grit" as seedy, dangerous, and an indicator of decay and decline
Also consider that the civil rights movement was happening during this time. I can remember lots of news coverage about busing to achieve integration. We lived in a suburb (Cheektowaga) and were not involved with the busing thing but I can remember my mom being concerned that they might try to pull the suburbs into it.
 
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Dan

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There's several versions of the 1920s-era Greater Buffalo Motorways system plan, but this is the most ambitious. The inspiration for the Greater Buffalo Motorways system was the Detroit "super-highway" system that gave Southeast Michigan its wide divided mile roads. In the Buffalo area, only Sheridan Drive and parts of McKinley Parkway were built as divided parkways. Many proposed roads in this plan were built, but as two- and four-lane un-divided streets, not divided parkways.

This plan also includes the original Niagara Falls Boulevard concept -- not today's NY 62, but what became Colvin Avenue. The disconnected section of "Colvin Boulevard" in Niagara Falls was going to be the nothern end of the original NFB. The original Colvin Boulevard alignment of NFB had been a dream of civic leaders since the late 1800s, but it died with a whimper in the 1950s and 1960s. Some of the right-of-way for the project still exists through North Tonawanda and Wheatfield, and there's other traces in the built environment -- street sections with very wide tree lawns along the route, a provision for future widening.

I've seen newspaper articles from the 1960s reference road projects and their relation to the Greater Buffalo Motorways plan.

XUPrOxp.png
 

Dan

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From the Buffalo Evening News, January 5 1928

497aebf5-14d1-4dae-88f5-15f7da2abc02.png

Otto and Mantis Van Sweringen were planning on building Shaker Heights 2.0 in Tonawanda, along the High Speed Line, an interurban route in private right-of-way that connected Buffalo and Niagara Falls until abandonment in 1937. My holy grail of unbuilt Buffalo -- plans for the Van Brothers' Shaker Heights sequel outside of Buffalo.
 

Dan

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There was a project called 33 Gates Circle that is in the shelves for now. It's a proposed 23-story tower south that I haven't heard about in 6 or 7 years.
33 Gates Circle -- the original proposal. NIMBY put a halt to it, and high end townhouses are taking its place.

1078_2_1000 Diamond 33 Gates Circle 2.jpg
 

Dan

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From 1963: the Niagara Falls Monorail.


There's nothin' on Earth like a genuine bona-fide electrified six-car monorail!
 

Doohickie

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Seems a bit naive to me. Everyone who rode it would need to process through customs & immigration.
 

Dan

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Seems a bit naive to me. Everyone who rode it would need to process through customs & immigration.
It was a lot easier before 9-11.

:canada: Citizenship?
:usa: United States.
:canada: Where are you headed today?
:usa: Mints.
:canada: Have a good day.
 

Dan

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A few more. This one's from from 1954. Early plans for limited access highways in the US included a direct route between Buffalo and Charlotte. Kind of ironic, considering all the Buffalonians that fled to Charlotte between 1990 and 2010.


Sketch of an earlier proposal for a shorter, stumpier City Hall building.

stumpy_city_hall.jpg

Plans for the Buffalo Waterfront, from New York State Urban Development Corporation, by Paul Rudolph. 1969.

1969.05-01.01.0014.jpg

buffalo_waterfront_1969_02.jpg

buffalo_waterfront_1970.jpg
 

Dan

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* The Save Your Unborn Baby Watefront Arch
The Arch of Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and International Shrine of the Holy Innocents. That name is only a little bit longer than some od the Buffalo Diocese parish names, :D The Web site is still active! A description of the project:

In January 2001, the first month of the new millennium, The Association for The Arch of Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and International Shrine of the Holy Innocents, a not-for-profit New York corporation, was formed in Buffalo, New York. As described in detail in our Prospectus, the Association’s purpose is to build a truly world-class, globally significant shrine, to be located on the shore of Lake Erie adjacent to downtown Buffalo. The shrine will feature primarily a monumental, ascendable, golden triumphal arch, The Arch of Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to be the world’s tallest monument measuring 700 feet to the tip of the golden Cross that will surmount its peak (seven being the mystical number of perfection, as Mary represents the perfection of humanity).

The first proposal:

arch_of_unborn_babies_02.jpg


The most recent version:

arch_of_unborn_babies_01.jpg
 

Dan

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Another early unbuilt proposal for City Hall in the 1920s.

buffalo_city_hall_1920s.jpg
 

Dan

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Well, this never happened.

sounds_call_for_unified_buffalo.jpg

The Walden Galleria was originally supposed to be a high-end upscale mall, not just a nice larger-than-average super-regional mall. Here's the never-opened 150,000 square foot B. Altman department store, planned to be one of the mall's many anchor stores. (There's still a Lord & Taylor in the Galleria, and Bonwit Teller also had a Galleria location.)

b altman galleria.jpg
 

Dan

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Unbuilt proposal for City Hall by architect J.J.W. Bradney, from February 1928.

jw_bradley_unbuilt_buffalo_city_hall.jpg

Unbuilt Buffalo Skyway proposal, January 1934.

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Buffalo River tunnel, January 1942

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Early proposal for a pedestrian mall and bus subway on Main Street, September 1954.

pedestrian_mall_1.jpg

pedestrian_mall_2.jpg

Kensington Expressway extension, January 1959.

kensington_extension.jpg
 

Dan

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Why did it never open? They had the sign up but it never opened?
The company went bankrupt right before the store was supposed to open. B. Altman was very "stuffy" and "patrician" compared to other luxury department store chains, but it was the closest the Buffalo area got to a store in the same class as Nordstrom or Neiman-Marcus.

Back to unbuilt Buffalo. People don't believe me when I say there was supposed to be a second Marine Midland Center tower. From 1969 ...

marine midland center second tower.jpg

12. Marine Midland Center second office tower. Told you so.

Lots of other unbuilts on this list, too, including:

10. Marine Midland Center hotel, Marine Midland Center was originally supposed to have a shopping mall, too.
15. Waterfront convention center.
16. Huge parking ramp for a downtown domed stadium.
17. Downtown domed stadium.

Not numbered: the hyperblock south of the 190, and massive surface parking lots on the waterfront and along the Buffalo River.

I'm glad none of the stuff south of the 190 never materialized. Planners of the era weren't just proposing urban renewal, but wiping the slate clean and starting over again. This plan would have had the city turn its back on the waterfront, the reason why it exists to begin with.

EDIT: More proof of the planned second tower. From an RFP for a planned development in Boston, 1970.

marine_midland_1.jpg

marine_midland_2.jpg
 

RandomPlanner

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From the Buffalo Evening News, January 5 1928

View attachment 6026

Otto and Mantis Van Sweringen were planning on building Shaker Heights 2.0 in Tonawanda, along the High Speed Line, an interurban route in private right-of-way that connected Buffalo and Niagara Falls until abandonment in 1937. My holy grail of unbuilt Buffalo -- plans for the Van Brothers' Shaker Heights sequel outside of Buffalo.
Tangentially on topic, my sixth grade teacher was named Mr. Swearingen (first name Van*) and I'd only ever heard that name because of him. Now that I've done a cursory google search, I'm interested in the connection there. I'm guessing his family was originally part of the Van Sweringens.

*And a google search of him taught me that 'Van' was actually his middle name but confirmed his last name, as originally thought, was just Swearingen.
 
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Dan

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Here's the original proposal by Gordon Bunschaft / SOM for a mile-long megastructure for the SUNY University of Buffalo Amherst Campus. The building would have housed all academic departments, classrooms, libraries, laboratories and research facilities, offices, and recreational facilities for a university with a projected enrollment of 40,000 students. It would have been bigger than the Pentagon, and construction costs were estimated at $600-$650 million, about $4.7-$5.1 billion in 2020 dollars.

From The Spectrum, 11-17-1967:

bunschaft 01.jpg

bunschaft 02.jpg

The Spectrum, November 10, 1967:

bunschaft 03.jpg
 

Dan

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Three more unbuilt malls.

The Amherst Mall (spring 1966) was a proposed 150 store mall on a 160 acre site at the southeast corner of Niagara Falls Boulevard and Ridge Lea Road. Frank Zappala, F.J. Mascone, and Maret Corporation of Pittsburgh were the developers, and the architect was [drumroll please] Victor Gruen Associates! I don't know why the project died, and I can't find any plans.

In March 1969, International Business & Realty Corporation presented plans for an 800,000 square foot, four anchor mall with 6,500 parking spaces (!) to the Village of Depew Board. The mall site was a 56 acre tract on Walden Avenue, east of Dick Road. I can't find any plans or other specifics.

The original architect of Main Place Mall was supposed to be ... again, Victor Gruen Associates! However, they quit the project in May 1965, because they were "unable to come to agreement on certain design problems and approaches which we as architects and planners feel are of great importance to the successful execution of the project,"

gruen main place mall.jpg
 

Dan

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Here's a proposal for the Peace Bridge "signature span".


From the YouTube page: Today began a series of open houses both in Buffalo and Fort Erie, Ontario regarding the peace bridge expansion project slated to be completed... wait for it... 2018.

201 Ellicott. Yeah, that didn't happen.

201 ellicott.jpg
 

Doohickie

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From the YouTube page: Today began a series of open houses both in Buffalo and Fort Erie, Ontario regarding the peace bridge expansion project slated to be completed... wait for it... 2018.
So is the Peace Bridge still the same old Peace Bridge, no new capacity? I thought it was busting at the seams and the second span was sorely needed. I remember hearing about it when it was announced but not hearing anything since.
 

Dan

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They would have killed Thruway Mall, which wasn't covered over until 1974.
About as much as Como Mall did, in my opinion, which isn't that much. Thruway Mall would still have been the closest mall to parts of Cheektowaga west of the 90, and still-dense neighborhoods on Buffalo's East Side.

(We had split mall loyalties in 14215. Some folks considered Boulevard Mall to be their "local mall", and others preferred Thruway Mall.)

I'm wondering what anchors would go into a "Depew Mall". Thruway Mall had AM&A's, JC Penny, Sears, and L.L. Berger. Como Mall wasn't built until the 1970s. Construction started on Eastern Hills Mall in 1969, and the mall was heavy with anchors - AM&A's, Hengerer's, Jenss, Sears, and JC Penny. Demographics around the Depew Mall were solidly blue collar, so I doubt The Sample would open there, much less another Jenss or Hengerer's. Maybe Sattler's (a Polonia favorite), Kobacker's, and Hens & Kelly? Montgomery Ward was an everywhere-but-Buffalo chain, but still, maybe? None of those chains survived past the early 1980s, so the Depew Mall probably would shut its doors way before the Walden Galleria came along.

What about the Amherst Mall? Boulevard Mall had JCP and a huge Sattler's. Northtown Plaza had Kobacker's, Hens & Kelly, and LL Berger. I'm guessing AM&A's (nearest stores at University Plaza and Sheridan-Delaware Plaza), Sears (nearest store on Main Street in Buffalo), Hengerer's (closest: freestanding store at Main Street and Eggert Road in Amherst), and maybe Montgomery Ward? Bier's from Niagara Falls? One of the Rochester or Cleveland chains? The long-rumored American side Eaton's? I think Amherst Mall would still be around, because of its location. However, the retail apocalypse would have taken out Boulevard Mall years earlier.

I'm geeking out here.

So is the Peace Bridge still the same old Peace Bridge, no new capacity? I thought it was busting at the seams and the second span was sorely needed. I remember hearing about it when it was announced but not hearing anything since.
No new capacity. The project was put on hold because there was a fear of bird/bridge collisions, increased air pollution in the neighborhood near The Front, and disagreement over the location of each country's customs checkpoints.
 

Doohickie

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About as much as Como Mall did, in my opinion, which isn't that much. Thruway Mall would still have been the closest mall to parts of Cheektowaga west of the 90, and still-dense neighborhoods on Buffalo's East Side.
Totally different scenario. Como Mall was a small mall first of all, and didn't open until several years after Thruway Mall was roofed over. The Depew Mall would have been just another mile or two down the road and would have predated the roofing over of Thruway Mall in 1974.
 

Dan

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Totally different scenario. Como Mall was a small mall first of all, and didn't open until several years after Thruway Mall was roofed over. The Depew Mall would have been just another mile or two down the road and would have predated the roofing over of Thruway Mall in 1974.
I have to disagree. Boulevard Mall didn't kill Northtown Plaza, which was just a half mile away. Eastern Hills Mall didn't kill Transittown Plaza, also a half mile away. Same thing with Seneca Mall and Southgate Plaza, about a mile away.

In my opinion, Thruway Mall's competition at the time was the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood on the East Side, which along with the Broadway Market, still had a couple of department stores, a bunch of large furniture and appliance stores, and a lot of smaller shops. Also IMHO, the glory days of Broadway-Fillmore lasted as long as they did, despite it being a working class neighborhood, only because the population density in the surrounding area was so high.

Here's what I think will be a future unbuilt. Sure, it's a proposal, but the Summit Park Mall site in Wheatfield has long been a land of broken dreams. Developers in the 1960s proposed a large planned community in the area -- never built. Chrysler had plans for an auto assembly plant just to the south. Never built. Land of Oz? Never built. I think the Niagara International Sports and Entertainment Center will be another one for the Unbuilt Buffalo books.

sports_center_wheatfield.jpg

nise_center.jpg

From the February 7, 2020 Buffalo News:

Crack!

The sound of a baseball bat connecting with a ball rips across the vast room, as players from Niagara County Community College's team practiced their swings Thursday morning amid a sea of netting.

But this isn't your ordinary setting for batting cages.

This is the inside of the former Sears store at Summit Park Mall – part of the new Niagara International Sports & Entertainment Center.
And it's just the beginning of what owner Zoran Cocov envisions as a $2.2 billion reuse project to bring new life to an aged but empty retail complex, while drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors to Western New York.

That is, if he can pull it off, without a strong track record of accomplishment, on a site that has confounded previous attempts at redevelopment. The mall has been mostly vacant for years, a prior attempt to buy and release it fell through, and the adjacent property that Cocov owns was previously targeted for a $600 million theme park that was abandoned when financing collapsed.
Now, the Canadian developer – who purchased the vacant and derelict Wheatfield mall in 2014 – is kicking off the first phase of a multiyear effort to convert the 48-year-old mall and 560 acres of land into an entertainment and sports destination rivaling some of those found in other parts of the world.

Cocov's goal is to create a facility capable of hosting practices, games and tournaments – attracting school-age teams and their fans from hundreds of miles around. At the same time, the complex would provide other entertainment and dining options to satisfy visitors and locals, including a microbrewery and sports bar, a fitness club, a family fun center, an adventure park and sports spa.
And there's plenty of parking in the mall's existing lot: 4,700 spaces.

[snip]

But long-term plans include a 600-room hotel, a 10,000-seat hockey arena anchored by a new Ontario Hockey League team, an indoor water park, a domed theme park and a senior residence with independent living, assisted living and memory-care units.

[snip]

Besides batting cages, the gym and the basketball-volleyball court, Cocov carved out a space for bumper cars, and is bringing in a bicycle shop and an sports-specific training and fitness facility.


Those will move once he builds two identical 96,000-square-foot metal fieldhouses on part of the back parking area, with three turf fields and a set of three smaller rubber-floor courts in each. They will be connected to each other and to the center of the mall through a 1,500-square-foot covered walkway and common area.

[snip]

The fieldhouses will host volleyball, indoor hockey, basketball, baseball, soccer, softball and lacrosse, and can also host trade shows, conferences and concerts. They will include sport-specific training space, batting cages and bullpens, warmup areas, hospitality, offices and classrooms. Outdoor baseball diamonds will be built.

That will be followed by converting former Toys R Us and Save A Lot space into the 29,000-square-foot Big Thunder Brewing Co. microbrewery, tap room, dinner theater and sports bar restaurant. There's an outdoor bar and gathering space. A fitness club and personal training studio will occupy another 40,000 to 50,000 square feet.

There's a 50,000-square-foot indoor trampoline and adventure park to be completed this year, a 50,000-square-foot family fun center for 2021, a 50,000-square-foot complementary medicine and sports spa and a food court.

A sporting goods store and uniform shop are planned. The fun center would feature miniature golf, bowling, laser tag, an arcade, electric go-carts and party rooms. There will be a 5K obstacle course inside.

Cocov would construct the Lantern of Niagara senior community, with 60 to 120 units.

For the $195 million second phase, Cocov would construct a dual-rink hockey arena and event venue centered around the 20-team OHL's fourth U.S. franchise, with an attached hotel of 600 suites. About 200 suites would double as private boxes for 12-14 guests. The arena and hotel building would feature an 80,000-square-foot water park.

In Phase 3, Cocov wants to take one of the three lakes on the adjacent land and transform it into a domed saltwater beach pool resort, along with an outdoor amusement park and live performance theater. The 2-million-square-foot phase would cost $2 billion.
$2 billion. American Dream in New Jersey cost $5 billion.
 

Dan

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Another unbuilt mall, this one in downtown Buffalo on Main Street, between Chippewa Street and the Shea's Buffalo theater. From the February 7, 1967 Courier-Express: Main Place Mall was under construction at the time.

downtown mall 2-7-1967.jpg
 

Dan

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Here's "The Carlo", a 14-story mixed-use building proposed by Carl Paladino in 2014, for a 5½-acre site at Erie Basin Marina. The proposal includes a 143-room hotel, 36 apartments, 120'2 of office space, spa, pool, two restaurants, 15,000'2 of retail space, and a parking ramp.

the_carlo.jpg

2012 proposal for the $1.4 billion "Greater Buffalo Sports and Entertainment Complex " waterfront stadium. The architect was Dallas-based HKS Sports & Entertainment.

ewscripps.jpg

oh-stadium.jpg

bills-new.jpg
 

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At this point, I think it's safe to add the Willoughby Exchange apartment building to the list of unbuilts.

willoughby_exchange.jpg

From the Buffalo News, 6-28-2017:

Ever wonder what happened to Willoughby Exchange?
It hasn't gone away. But it did go back to the drawing board.

Craig Willoughby's proposal for a 10-story apartment building at Main and East Ferry streets created some furor in the surrounding neighborhood when the auto insurance purveyor first promoted it over a year ago. So he and his partners have been tweaking it through a series of community meetings to overcome resistance.

"This is a real development that has not been abandoned," said Colby A. Smith, president and CEO of Colby Development LLC, an adviser on the project. "It's basically still in development analysis."

Under the $26 million proposal unveiled in April 2016, Willoughby would knock down the one-story, red-and-white building at the corner that houses his insurance agency's longtime home, and replace it with a residential and commercial building that he dubbed Willoughby Exchange.

The development group is also still working to line up financing.

"We have investors watching and analyzing the project approvals and timing before committing resources," Smith said.
Proposed updated rendering of Willoughby Exchange at Main and East Ferry Streets.

The project, aimed at downtown, university and Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus workers, would feature more than 100 apartments and a 7,380-square-foot urban market, as well as Willoughby's agency office. Willoughby plans to live in the two-story penthouse owner's apartment.

According to the original plans by Silvestri Architects, the 125,000-square-foot red-brick and glass building would include eight stories of apartments above one floor of commercial and retail space on the ground level. The market-rate apartments would include 64 one-bedroom units, of about 990 square feet each, and 37 two-bedroom units, with about 1,140 square feet in each. The apartments would rent for $1,200 and $1,500 per month, respectively, plus $75 per month for covered parking.

The project also featured 19,000 square feet of commercial space, a three-story fitness studio with a pool and one level of underground parking.
But the proposal faced resistance from neighbors on Otis and Woodlawn, who complained that the building would be out of scale with the area, and would cast shadows on their homes. They called for Willoughby and his partners to reduce the building's size and impact.

The development team has continued meeting with neighbors, most recently in a large community forum in April. That's "generated some design considerations" that are being considered, alongside "additional financial modeling" and a further market study, Smith said. There's been no change to the overall density of the project or the height, but the size of the apartments and the number of one- and two-bedroom units has changed, he added.
There's no indication when it might come back before city agencies for consideration.
 

Dan

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Master plan for Audubon New Community in Amherst, from the New York State Urban Development Corporation and LLewelyn-Davies Associates, 1970.

audubon.jpg

Future land use map from 1972.

audubon.jpg

From the text:

Audubon is being developed by the New York State Urban Development Corporation as a means of helping the town of absorb the impact of the new Buffalo campus of the State University of New York, which will have an estimated 26.000 students by 1977 The site, which incorporates the new campus at its southern edge, is pierced with existing subdivision developments that have been incorporated into the plan The plan calls for the development of 9.000 residential units for an estimated 27.500 persons The neighborhoods will be interspersed with commercial, office, and community facilities, as well as schools, playgrounds, and man-made lakes Some 625 acres will be devoted to open space and recreational areas A variety of housing types for a wide mix of income groups, including students and the elderly, will be dispersed throughout the site. Nearly 2.000 units will be subsidized Total acres: 2,000
The site today.
 

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How about some old time unbuilt? Here's The Gardens, a proposed but unbuilt apartment building at the corner of Linwood Avenue and Barker Street. (Buffalo Times, January 28, 1920)

The_Buffalo_Times_Sun__Jan_18__1920_.jpg

Planned but never built municipal office building, at the corner of Franklin Street and Church Street. It's now the site of the former Buffalo Police Headquarters, where a developer is proposing a residential adaptive reuse project. (Buffalo Times, November 23, 1918)

The_Buffalo_Times_Sat__Nov_23__1918_.jpg
 

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Another old-timey never-built building: a mixed use development that includes a 22 story hotel with 1000 rooms, and a 9 story office building and printing plant for the Buffalo Commercial, one of the city's many now-defunct daily newspapers. The building would have taken up an entire block, bounded by Main Street, Eagle Street, Pearl Street, and Niagara Street; now the site of Main Place Tower and part of the mostly-dead Main Place Mall.


(Buffalo Commercial, April 24, 1919)

The hotel would be 232' tall. The tallest buildings in the city at the time were the New York Telephone and Marine Bank building, both topping out at about 235'.

The reaction to this proposal? A proposed law from the Buffalo's nascent City Planning Committee, to limit the maximum height of any building downtown to 150', with a special permit needed for anything higher, as long as there was a stepback of 1' from the property line for every 3' of additional height. Buffalo's first zoning code was still about eight years away, but the "threat" of skyscrapers was the talk of the town. According to city councilman Arthur Kreinheder, "I don't believe in these high buildings. Some people are afraid to go into them:" City Council voted to table the height limits. The skyscraper boom so many expected didn't happen.
 
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