What is Place-Based Planning?

A New Approach to Planning and Zoning

The Buffalo Green Code will use a new approach to guiding development. In the past century, most cities decided where buildings could go based chiefly on what they were used for. This new approach called “Place-Base Planning” is different and Buffalo is on the cutting edge of using it to shape a vibrant city for the 21st century.

Place-based planning is a way to shape the future of our city by concentrating on the look and feel of places, their form and their character, instead of focusing only on conventional categories of land use. The Buffalo Green Code will create a Future Development Plan that maps the entire city by type of place. Then a Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance will create a new set of rules to encourage development that fits with the desired character of the place.

Buffalo is made up of neighborhoods, districts and corridors - and it will continue to be.

  • Neighborhoods are places with a mix of homes and businesses that share a similar development pattern.
  • Districts are single use areas like shopping centers or campuses where development patterns were created specifically for that use.
  • Corridors are linear connections between neighborhoods created by road, rail, water and greenway connections.

The neighborhoods, districts, and corridors described below and applied to our city will preserve what is best about Buffalo while making places for new and innovative opportunities to take root and flower.
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Neighborhoods, Districts, and Corridors

Urban Core Neighborhoods are the “Regional Hubs” like Downtown, the Larkin District, and the high density areas of Delaware Avenue. They are the most intensively developed and mixed-use parts of the city, containing buildings of significant scale and height, as well as many regionally important civic buildings.
Urban Center Neighborhoods are the “19th Century Neighborhoods” like Elmwood Village, Allentown, and Historic Black Rock. They are the city’s oldest and most dense traditional neighborhoods, typically with very small front yards, buildings that are close together, and a diverse mix of uses in close proximity to each other.
Urban Neighborhoods are the “Streetcar Neighborhoods” like Riverside, Hamlin Park, South Buffalo, and Kensington/Bailey. They are the most common neighborhood type in the city, typically having modest front yards, moderate spacing between structures, and some mix of uses, predominantly focused on commercial strips, such as Tonawanda Street, Jefferson Avenue, Seneca Street, and Bailey Avenue.

Urban Edge Neighborhoods are the “Parkway Neighborhoods” such as Park Meadow, Central Park, and Lincoln Parkway. They are the city’s least intensive neighborhoods, typically with significant front yards, wide spacing between structures, and a very limited mix of uses consisting entirely of residential and civic uses such as schools and places of worship.

Towers/Garden Apartments are the “Superblock Neighborhoods” such as Ellicott Mall or Marine Drive Apartments. They are typically master-planned communities often including a grouping of residential towers or garden apartments set within a park-like environment. They are primarily residential, though they often integrate retail, civic, and recreational uses.
Retail Districts are the car-oriented shopping areas such as Delaware Consumer Square and the Tops Plaza on Jefferson Avenue. They typically contain multiple tenants, prominent parking areas, and scattered structures connected by an internal circulation network.
Industrial/Employment Districts are the single-use industrial and office campuses such as Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park, the Exchange Street Industrial Park, the American Brass & Aluminum Foundry, and the Thruway Industrial Park, as well as underused brownfields that could be revived as employment areas. They are typically low-rise, large-site developments, oriented to rail and truck traffic.
Healthcare Districts are multiple building, master planned medical campuses such as Erie County Medical Center (ECMC), Sheehan Memorial Hospital, and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. They can be either multiple block, integrated campuses, or exist on large sites with an internal circulation network.
Education Districts are multiple building, master planned campuses such as Buffalo State College, UB South Campus, and Canisius College. They often contain formally arranged buildings and civic greens and squares, as well an internal vehicular and pedestrian circulation networks.
Open Space Districts are all the permanently protected parks and civic spaces in the city, ranging from regionally important parks and conservation areas such as Martin Luther King Park and Tifft Nature Preserve, to structured recreational areas such as Johnny B. Wiley Sports Complex and Shoshone Park, to small greens and plazas such as Niagara Square and Viola Park.
Corridors are the linear systems that form the borders of, or connect, the neighborhoods and districts. They include highways, railroads, waterways, parkways and greenways.

City of Buffalo
Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning