There is a lot of talk about how to improve Buffalos waterfront, and how to bring money back into the city. Of course there was the infamous Bass Pro debacle, which ended as many people expected it would – with Bass Pro pulling out of the deal.
Welp, they demolished the Auditorium, and now they are building an underground parking lot where Bass Pro was supposed to sit. What will rise above this parking lot? Well at the moment no one knows. The latest rumors I heard was some home furnishing store, like Ikea or something. But that will never happen either, and besides, that will not bring any money into downtown. How often do people need to go shopping for that type of stuff.
I think what needs to be done is a major downtown centered mall. Not some small crappy attempt at a Mall that Main Place Mall was, but a real super sized, multi block mall.
Many big cities have connected downtowns, with either a below ground or above ground public pathway system. Below ground systems are preferable in cities with lots of snow, such as Buffalo. Imagine being able to walk from the Bus Depot to HSBC Tower, to HSBC Arena, to ECC to the Casino. Without going outside?
Okay this may seem crazy at first. Why would we build a huge underground mall in downtown Buffalo? Especially when projects like the Main Place Mall have failed.
Well here is the answer. Every weekend, Buffalo is flooded with Canadians who drive from sometimes upwards of 200 miles away, in order to shop at the Walden Galleria mall. Those Canadians have money… Lots of money compared to the average Buffalo resident. Now you must ask, why do they come to Buffalo? Toronto has some pretty large and well populated malls! Well they come to Buffalo to save money. Things are cheaper down here then they are in the inflated land of Toronto.
To the average Canadian, the Galleria mall is a small mall. Most of the malls up there are larger then the Galleria. The Galleria is kind of average sized to them. But they come en-mass to save money and buy stuff only available in the USA.
What would attract more Canadians, and thus bring in more money? A larger mall, perhaps with some added attractions to add some spice to the shopping experience. Up in Edmonton, AB they have something they call the West Edmonton Mall. Not only is this the largest mall in the world, this mall also features a large indoor waterpark, a couple hotels, one of them a fantasy theme hotel, a zoo, and various other attractions.
Imagine a 5 star theme hotel with a waterpark where the Aud used to be? Connected underground to the HSBC Arena which links to the rest of the mall between Perry Street and Scott Street. Connecting on the east end to the Casino with a hotel there as well. Underground parking below each section of the mall will provide ample secure parking. Expansions North past the 190 would connect to various facilities in Downtown, such as ECC, the Amtrack station, the Bus Terminal, and even Main Place Mall. Expansions south could connect to the DL&W / NFTA Bus Garage, and expansion into undeveloped land south of Perry Street would expand the mall further – possibly adding a mini-putt course / other family entertainment venue there.
This mall would attract not only Canadians, but also people who live in the suburbs. And would not attract only one group of people (i.e. fishermen). Keep the mall concourse open 24/7, and well patrolled with security / police. It would bring life to downtown Buffalo…
Being close to the border, and close to a major highway interchange, this is an excellent location for such a mall. It would be easier for Canadians to get to then the Galleria. Sure the Galleria might be upset, but does the Galleria help Buffalo proper out at all? No…
Life, Money, Jobs and multipul businesses. You really can’t go wrong.
Not only that, but with the added land value, and the added workforce which would encompass that area, it would encourage apartments and housing to pop up around the outskirts of the mall, this would start to sweep into what is currently a ghetto, in the south park area, and will encourage that area to clean itself up. Such a mall might actually start the chain reaction which could get this city back on its feet.
Such a project would likely cost about $500 Million. But I imagine that it would bring in more then $200 Million a year in outside income. So in about 5 years it will have more then paid for itself in taxes alone
Imagine this: The yellow lines will be the main underground (for the most part) public walkways; along which in the main areas stores will open into from either side. The Red Zone, Phase 1, where the Aud used to be, would include underground parking, and an attraction of some sort, which would involve entertainment for the whole family. Above this, would be constructed a theme based 5 star hotel, with a revolving resturant on top.
The Purple zone below the Red zone represents the area HSBC wants in order to build further offices. The basement would become parking garage, plus a food court which would serve as a central hotspot for employees during the day, and also an event gathering place for events at the Arena. This would be Phase 2.
To the East, along Scott Street, the Buffalo News Parking lot (Blue Zone) could be expanded to include an above ground parking facility with the area below ground being retained as the main mall concourse with several shops.
Phase 3 involves the Blue, Maroon, and Yellow areas between Scott and Perry. This would become the main mall area on the first basement level, and the first floor level. Offices would be provided in the Maroon section on the 2nd floor for professional services like Doctors and clinics. There will be an outside area in the South West section of the Maroon area which would have a pond, which could be converted into a ice rink in the winter for recreational ice skating.
The Yellow section would have plenty of underground parking, plus a four star hotel above the mall to serve the casino and guests for the HSBC arena who may not be able to afford the more expensive theme hotel in the Red Zone.
The Casino would be connected, and is self explanatory.
The Green area would be turned into mainly underground and above ground parking, with a concourse level shopping atrium and perhaps a residential condo tower along Perry Street.
The pathway would also connect to the HSBC Arena, and its parking garage, as well as the DL&W terminal, which could be used for special event exhibit space. The Pathway would also extend north to HSBC Tower, the Ball Park, the Amtrack Station, ECC, The Bus Terminal, and even eventually Main Place Mall.
The Main Perry Street Corridor mall would actually be almost twice as large as the Walden Galleria, and it would also include direct links to a Sports arena, and a Casino, as well as key transportation services like the Amtrack station, the NFTA Subway, and the Bus Depot. Such a plan, this close to the border of Canada WILL bring in money and will be successful.