2. Achieving the Vision
The obstacles to achieving the vision are serious. The city has been losing population at a rapid rate for decades while the employment base of Downtown has remained relatively static. The business community identifies a long list of disincentives to retention, expansion, and recruitment of new economic activity Downtown including taxes, energy costs, parking, access, some obsolete building stock, an overall weak market, and declining property values. The fragmentation of economic development services, the unpredictability of the development environment, and continuing difficulties in permitting only make the situation more daunting.
The vision can be achieved, however, with a concerted effort that builds on progress we have already made, organizes commitment to practical improvements, and commands continuing accountability to the plan. Achieving the vision will need a few bold moves, but mostly it will require incremental capital investments that build on current assets. It will also require discrete policy initiatives and administrative reforms that develop institutional capacity. This will include developing a strong planning and design capacity in City Hall, and creating clear and enforceable design guidelines that demand the best urban environment possible.
Queen City in the 21st Century: Buffalo’s Comprehensive Plan, incorporates The Queen City Hub and also describes ways to fix the basics and get full leverage from our strengths and past investments throughout the city. It also connects to a larger and still developing regional and economic planning framework without which neither Downtown nor the city will achieve their full potential.