Feasibility Assessment of an Innovation District in Buffalo

Report cover for Innovation Districts in Buffalo.

In the pursuit of creative and contemporary economic development strategies, a group of leaders in Western New York identified an innovation district (ID) as an important potential resource for our region. This term describes urban neighborhood-scale geographic places where a new economy combines high-tech businesses and institutions within a collaborative built environment that is conducive to living, working and playing. The original nomenclature was established by Julie Wagner and Bruce Katz as part of a series of Brookings Institute publications.



Spring 2019


Master of Urban Planning

This report has been prepared by graduate students in urban and regional planning or real estate development at the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo in Spring 2019. The project was carried out as a “practicum,” a form of experiential learning in which students actively work on a professional project with public clients to create recommendations that could be implemented for the public interest. Our planning project was led by urban planning professor Ernest Sternberg.

The goal of this document is to investigate the plausibility of the emergence of an Innovation District in the City of Buffalo or adjacent municipalities, such as the Town of Amherst. Students first sought to investigate appropriate locations for an ID. With insight from local leaders, 10 potential locations were selected for investigation based on their proximity to innovative activity and connections to regional assets and high powered anchor institutions such as the University at Buffalo.

Recommendations are focused around a series of proposals specific to each zone of improvement. These focus areas consist of Kaisertown’s Main Streets, Houghton Park, and Waterfront. Proposals are established through our guiding principles. Recommendations should be forward thinking, relevant year round, and kept in context with Kaisertown. All development will aim to be sustainable in efforts to protect bolster cultural and physical assets that make Kaisertown unique.