Parking Lot Going Green on Lafayette Avenue

One of the first ‘green’ parking lots in the City of Buffalo has been installed at the 257 Lafayette Center conversion project.  The three-story, 34,320-sq.ft. former Catholic Academy school is being converted into 20 two-bedroom units at approximately 825 square feet each, 7,000 sq.ft. of office space and 4,000 sq.ft. for a day care center that will be leased and operated by the Waldorf School.

The conversion project is being undertaken by architect Karl Frizlen and contractor Paul Johnsons’ 257 Lafayette LLC.  They purchased the circa-1928 school building from the Archdiocese of Buffalo for $200,000.

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Dave Majewski’s Premium Services oversaw the parking lot construction at the project, installed the landscaping and pavers.  Runoff from the parking lot will be channeled into the site’s landscape areas.  No water is expected to enter the city’s storm drains.  Since City codes have not officially recognized bio-retention, traditional drainage systems were also installed at the site. 

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Says Majewski, “There still has to be a catch basin installed on site. It will hardly ever be used however.  It is situated 6″ above ponding.  Any ponding would only happen if there was a severe 100 year flood at best.”

“There are also under drains of 6″ perforated pipe installed as a last chance drainage back up,” says Majewski.  “The City has been supportive of the effort, but until bio-retention is proven as reliable, we need to follow existing code.”

“Since this may be the first true bio-retention parking lot, it’ll be scrutinized.  We need to prove that it works,” says Majewski, adding that an interpretive sign will be installed at the site.  “We have had at least six people stop and and inquire about what we are doing.  They all ask why this is not happening on other projects.  I tell them this is the future- it will be.”

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About the author  ⁄ Elena Cala Buscarino

17 comments
Buffalo Rising
Buffalo Rising

Recognizing Buffalo's Green Infrastructure

It's kind of hard to imagine what one person, or one business can do to make our regional water sources cleaner. It's a good thing that we have an organization like Riverkeeper around to hi-light the different green projects throughout the area that mi...

dave majewski
dave majewski

PS - this inclusion of bio retention cells provides added benefits over permeable pavement:

Aesthetic advantage and attraction by using a wide variety of native plants that can be edible and educational - especially at a school location.

Allows for monitoring of runoff amounts and water quality.

Provides a better filtration/purification. Permeables will do this but the filtration medium of bio retention includes gravel, sometimes sand, mulch, fibrous and extensive plant roots, filter fabric and considerable depths of compost that is full of bacteria, fungi, micro-organisms, etc... all which are natural purifiers at higher levels than of pavement sub bases alone. Permable pavement is an excellent choice for temporary overflow areas ond pedestrian areas adjunct to parking areas. Although, Chicago has experimented successfully with 250K+ sq ft of permeable in an athletic field parking lot. However, that lot is not used 12 months of the year 7 days/week.

biniszkiewicz
biniszkiewicz

This has been a very interesting topic. Thanks for sharing your expertise here and in previous articles. I have a few parking lots to develop (eventually) for commercial properties I own. Good to learn about this. Very nice job on this project.

I also support greening up the edges of parking lots, as orlanmon advocates. Lose a bit of revenue from parking; make things nicer for everyone passing by.

dave majewski
dave majewski

Max is correct on the issue of labeling things “Green”.

Although, “Green” as a label is slowly being nudged aside for Regenerative and Ecological Design – RED; the final intelligent step in saving the environment.

Permeable pavers – not turf stones – could not be fit in to the budget of this project on Lafayette. If you select and install permeable pavers throughout the whole available area; they cost more than bio-retention cells – and there are some maint issues with them all season – unlike turf stone. On commercial projects, it’s ALL about the budgets and all about those Golden Parking Spaces in most cases.

City code mandates catch basins still; and catch basins are a wise inclusion in to any parking bio retention project as well. It is not necessarily about completely eliminating every drop of runoff – rather mitigating peak flows in to the combined system as well as purifying any runoff prior to entering the system and prior to recharging ground water sources. Tim and Sals project on Whitney is a valuable and sustaining environmental success – they have made a significant contribution to recharging our environment rather than continually depressing the experience of the natural systems as we have always done – and unfortunately still do.

This 257 Lafayette Center project is different due to the design and inclusion of these bio-retention cells. Whether storm water is filtered through permeable pavers or through turf stones or in to properly designed and constructed bio retention cells is irrelevant – as long as the storm water runoff issue is addressed on the site. With bio retention cells, you get the added bonus of creating unique and functional green spaces as well. Bio retention cells and the modification of the total typical required conveyance systems decreases construction costs in most cases – adding native flora is an amenity in these cases and costs less. This project also utilized native species – there are over 100 cranberry shrubs included. The green spaces also provided the opportunity to emulate some of the flora in the community and tie the whole area together. Functional and sustainable.

These bio retention cells also attract attention to the project and inquiries from passers by. This subsequently provides the perfect opportunity for educating – as would permeable systems such as on Whitney. It is refreshing and a relief to see this happening here in Buffalo. We are making progress on nearly every project. The city just now needs to modify the codes and make these components mandatory. In many other cities, when you go to the planning board with a similar development, they insist on seeing how you will address contaminated storm water runoff, habitat preservation, soil conservation, etc… If not, you head back to the drawing board until you appease the planning board and meet the codes.

PS - there are 5-7 other LID (Low Impact Development) parking lot projects that are designed and soon heading to the planning board. Most will include bio retention cells as the SWM component.

sonyactivision
sonyactivision

This looks really nice because parking lots make me CRINGE.

timatbuffalo
timatbuffalo

It is great to see things like this, if I'm not mistaken the condo's at 65 Whitney Place are the first GREEN PARKING LOT in the city, our company hired Zumbino Concrete Construction. we looked at Dave's company and saw that they did first rate work, unfortunately due to budget restriction we went with Charlie Zumbino's family business and were very happy. We were able to use the permeable pavers that are already approved down state and have seen first hand what down pours do and they worked great. The landscaping should go in shortly which should complete the parking lot in the West Village Historic Neighborhood.

Verdan
Verdan

I offered to make my driveway a permeable pavement, but my "neighbors" in the City Of Good Neighbors had a fit. So, they get a little hill of clay and crappy weeds.

Seriously, with the heavy clay under the West Side, only nearby Willow trees will absorb much runoff.

Shoestring Budget
Shoestring Budget

I'm curious why permeable pavement was not used. Wouldn't that have reduced the need for catch basins?

max
max

This is a great project and a great article. Designating the parking lot as "green" is very apt.

Considering most people in Buffalo, and incidentally most readers of BR, are terrified of the westside, this building needed some off street parking. I'm thrilled that the developers added a parking lot in an environmentally friendly way.

There is nothing "green" about a car or a building or an appliance, but when they are built with the environment in mind, they are called "green." The same should apply for a well designed parking lot.

orlanmon
orlanmon

City should put into a place a minimum landscaping requirement/ordinance for parking lots. Some of the lots in and around downtown Bflo especially around the Flickinger Center and HSBC look terrible. These people are bringing in hand over fist for an empty lot, why not make them pay for some landscaping and who knows even pave and resurface their lots. My personal option is that parking lots in around downtown Buffalo and anywhere in WNY for that matter should have higher standards when it comes to greenery and esthetics... Attention to detail is not one of WNY's strong points, that is for sure..

Scottwf
Scottwf

lol. agreed. i demand we be more careful with the naming of these articles. its very misleading. ;)

sbrof
sbrof

I agree, it is less bad. But to think it is green only diverts attention from real green innovation.

It is like the Galleria mall's new facade... creating and 'urban' destination.

Scottwf
Scottwf

come on...lets not be so cynical. this is a huge improvement over an all ashpalt parking lot. added landscaping, and its hiding the minimal parking thats there. good job.

sbrof
sbrof

UB is installing some along Millersport highway... hopefully more to come on all of their campuses as well...

Also, calling a parking lot 'green' is a stretch. Sure it is 'less bad' but a parking lot is never really green.

STEEL
STEEL

Make it even greener by getting rid of it. Good first step though.

townline
townline

Niagara Falls just put in a bio-retention system on their Old Falls Street project. First of its kind in the area that I'm aware of. That whole project looks great. If only they could now redevelop all of the land along the street...

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