Feb 25, 2014

Conceptual Plans for Redeveloping the Central Park Plaza and Revitalizing Surrounding Neighborhood Presented

Despite the frigid weather last night, well over one hundred people from the Fillmore-Leroy neighborhood attended a public presentation on redeveloping the Central Park Plaza (google map) on the city’s near east side. Recognizing the greater need to invest in the community as a whole, the presentation discussed the potential for new infill on vacant lots, reviving neighborhood commercial corridors, and leveraging public transportation for job growth.
Presenters included John Ciminelli of LPCiminelli Inc. who purchased the plaza site last May, prominent urban planning and design firm Goody Clancy, the project architect from Stieglitz Snyder Architecture, and Daria Pratcher the housing director from the FLARE organization (Fillmore Leroy Area Residents).
Attendees were each given green dots to indicate what concepts on the presentation boards they favored the most to better steer the next stages of developing the comprehensive plan. Most people leaned towards the traditional good urbanism options that fit the neighborhood and included notes like, “no vinyl siding” and that they “do not like the Jefferson Avenue townhouses.” It was quickly apparent that something missing and highly desired for the area was a neighborhood market and/or farmers market, which received so many dots by the end it almost disappeared.  
Although the concepts presented were in the very early stages of development, they were based on community input from several previous meetings in the past year. Many of those in the urban planning field will recognize that this bottom-up approach of engaging neighborhood residents over the course of the development has become commonplace to ensure the finished product works in each case-by-case scenario.
Work could start as early as 2015 with several more years to complete the new development, which could bring as many as 600 new units to the plaza site alone. The development team is currently working with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to begin remediation on the site and start the prep work.
Central Park Plaza shortly before all the buildings were landfilled 
Historically the plaza was a large quarry for the Buffalo Cement Co. before being filled in and developed as a shopping center in the mid-century. The property languished and was largely vacant in recent years, creating an eyesore and headache for the surrounding neighborhood. After some maneuvering to take control of the site from the negligent out of town owner, Ciminelli was able to purchase the site and razed the buildings for their new development. 

For additional photos of the Central Park Plaza and the community meeting, click here for my photos on Ipernity. 

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