Reimagining Main Street with Tactical Urbanism

In support of the City of Buffalo’s Middle Main Street Streetscape Improvement Project and in collaboration with DiDonato Associates and Landscape Architect Joy Kuebler, Highland Planning co-hosted a series of pop-ups to solicit public input on the proposed design for the reconstruction of Main Street between Goodell Street and Ferry Street.

[What’s a pop-up, you ask? Check out our last entry to learn more! ]

The pop-ups temporarily activated 1245 Main Street in Buffalo, a prime Main Street storefront that’s currently vacant. Located at the intersection of Northampton Street, with floor to ceiling windows, this location gave participants a front row seat to some of the vehicular/bike/ped safety challenges facing this portion of Buffalo’s Main Street. The purpose of these events was to showcase the proposed streetscape design and amenities such as plantings, benches, lighting, and landscape features. Being on site helped participants envision what a reimagined Main Street would look like. The events combined were attended by 68 people and served as an opportunity to provide information about the project and obtain meaningful feedback from business owners, affected property owners, and residents.

Within the storefront, the team rolled out a forty-foot map that detailed the design proposed for each segment of Main Street. These designs were based on survey responses and comments made at prior engagement events. Attendees were encouraged to provide general comments on comment cards and to draw on the map to identify specific areas of concern / delight.

Out on the street, the pop-ups also included a tactical urbanism installation. Tactical urbanism refers to low cost, often D.I.Y, temporary changes made to the built environment to showcase potential changes and improvements that can enhance public spaces. Tactical urbanism projects vary in scope, size, and budget, and in this instance the Middle Main Project team used tape and traffic cones to outline proposed bump outs, bike lanes, parking, street light locations, and other street amenities at scale to provide a visual representation of what the area could look like in the future. This allowed for visitors to be able to physically walk through the proposed changes.

If you’d like to learn more about tactical urbanism, check out the official Tactical Urbanism Guide for ways to include these methods in your events!

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