‘Bailey Green’ Master Plan Employs Tactical Urbanism To Transform East Side Community

Photograph of students and Professor Data talking with a community resident.

Henry White, 85 (left), who has lived on Wende Street since the early 1980s, spoke with the UB-Harmac team during a recent walking tour of the neighborhood. “It’s been a long 35 years, but it’s finally improving” he said. Also pictured are (from left to right): John Somers of Harmac Medical Products, Jie Dai (MUP ’15) who was part of the initial studio and remains involved in the project, and UB’s Hiro Hata. 

Working hand-in-hand with a community-minded local business, architecture and urban design professor Hiroaki Hata and his students have generated a master plan that is helping to transform a struggling neighborhood on Bu alo’s East Side.

Bailey Green II — a master plan for a 33-acre zone around Bailey Avenue and Genesee Street on Bu alo’s East Side — is also gaining international attention. The plan placed second in the 2016 International Making Cities Livable design competition and earned the 2016 Outstanding Student Project award from the NY Upstate APA chapter.

The neighborhood blueprint has its origins in a first-phase plan conceived by an urban design studio led by Hata and sponsored by Harmac Medical Products, a major employer in the area.

The international contract manufacturer of single-use medical devices initiated the Bailey Green effort in 2008 and had cultivated partnerships with the City of Bu alo and community organizations when it approached UB in 2014 to develop the master plan.

View of the Bailey Green neighborhood streetscape.

A view of infill housing development proposed for the Bailey Green neighborhood on Buffalo’s East Side, developed by a team of students working under professor Hiro Hata and neighborhood business and master plan sponsor Harmac Medical Products. 

Over the past three years the plan has moved quickly from concept to action, with Harmac, Hata’s team, the City of Buffalo and a growing list of partners working together to refine design, move parcels into development and bring in capital. Two students from the 2014 studio - Jie Dai and Vivek Thanumalayan (now MUP grads) – continue to work with Hata through an independent studio a liated with the UB Regional Institute.

Indeed, Bailey Green is well into implementation. Project partner Habitat for Humanity is breaking ground on ve new builds. Heart of the City Neighborhoods is planning the development of three four-unit apartments in the neighborhood. Groundwork Gardens has created an urban garden to grow and provide fresh produce to a neighborhood where access to healthy food is scarce.

Other future plans include working with local food purveyor Urban Fruits and Veggies to build multiple hydroponic greenhouses, a fruit tree orchard, community garden and a street-level café and green market with upper-level apartments on East Ferry Street. Also envisioned for Bailey Green is a central park and outdoor recreation area. 

Photograph of community garners in the garden.

The Bailey Green master plan includes a proposal for a community garden, now in development by the Buffalo urban farming company Urban Fruits and Veggies. 

Founded on the urban design principles of walkability, accessibility, healthy living and pedestrian-scale development, the Bailey Green plan outlines a mix of affordable housing, retail, recreation, community gardens, green infrastructure and streetscape improvements.

Harmac CEO John Somers says that, as a neighborhood anchor and with many of its employees living in and around the Bailey Green neighborhood, “It was the right thing to do, and it aligns with our mission of changing the lives of patients, employees and communities in which we work.”

Hata and Somers, along with their community partners, have employed a balance of short-and long-term solutions, what Hata calls ‘tactical urbanism.’

Since 2008, Harmac has purchased 29 parcels in the area, demolished abandoned properties, created four acres of green space, planted more than 150 trees, worked with the City of Bu alo to repair sidewalks and streets, and brought in new partners to help revitalize the area. “The master plan created by UB and the School of Architecture and Planning for the Bailey Green Initiative has really helped to take our vision and show us the potential of what this neighborhood can be,” adds Somers.

Formed with extensive community input, UB’s Hata says the goal of the plan is to re-knit an urban fabric frayed by decades of decline and concentrated poverty and blight. The Bailey- Genesee area’s vacancy rate of 60 percent is among the city’s highest. 

“Our job is to make sure all the buildings, farms, green space -- when all of this is put together -- somehwo the whole is greater than the sum of its parts," said Hata.

Henry White, 85, who has lived on Wende Street since 1981, recently spoke with the UB-Harmac team during a recent walking tour of the neighborhood. “It’s been a long 35 years, but it’s nally improving” he said, standing in front of his meticulously maintained garden.

White is particularly pleased with a proposed greenway that would cut through the center of the neighborhood to create new pedestrian connections and community gathering spaces. 

“I would love that. I walk every day."

Indicative of the growing energy around Buffalo’s East Side, the scope of the plan continues to grow. Last year, Harmac donated an historic 19th century building to UB architect-artist Dennis Maher, who, in partnership with the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, will turn the site into a training center for wood-working and architectural craft for city residents.

New businesses to the area will be advised by the master plan’s design guidelines, which include street-front buildings with parking in the rear and green infrastructure such as new paths cutting in the middle of long blocks, rain gardens and planting beds. Existing businesses in prominent corner or gateway locations will be encouraged to make similar enhancements.