Village of Kenmore Receives American Planning Association Award

Kenmore is a progressive, old-style village,
with density, walkability, good retail (especially for our times), good
schools, and some very strong anchors, like locally-owned Premier Gourmet and Paddock Chevrolet.  In fact, it’s hard to think of much one
would have to
travel outside of Kenmore for, from services, to education, to
retail, to restaurants, to community parks.

Last year, the Elmwood Village was named “One
of the Top 10 Great Neighborhoods,” and this year, it’s Kenmore’s turn. As part
of its Great Places in America Program, the APA recognizes 10 communities
throughout the country for exceptional character and planning.

Kenmore was singled out for its historic
architecture, walkable design, accessibility, functionality, commitment of
government officials, and community involvement.  The Village recently celebrated its 110th anniversary of incorporation, and is also one the Country’s 100 most dense
urban areas, according to data from a 2000 census.

APA Chief Executive Officer Paul Farmer noted,
“Kenmore shows how valuable and important all of American’s first-ring suburbs
are to the metropolitan areas. Kenmore is truly a model worth emulating.”

Fred Frank of the Village of Kenmore Planning
Board and Kenmore Village Improvement Society (KVIS) says, “Part of our
success as a village is that we fought as a community to keep our post office
and library.  We hope this award
shows that keeping our amenities is important.  As for the decades-old car dealerships that exited Kenmore
recently, Frank says there is “big redevelopment happening. We’ve got a 2-story
mixed-use building coming in (image below, Iskalo Development), on the corner of Delaware and West
Hazeltine.  It will be retail on
the lower floor, with medical office space on the second floor.  We’re hoping the medical office will bring
in a lot of new people who will stick around, shop, have a meal.”

kenmore new bldg.jpg

Frank, who says he could talk for hours about
the virtues of Kenmore, also points to activities carried out by the KVIS,
saying, “We also sponsor several community events including community
garden and tree plantings, autumn and Christmas decorating along Delaware, ‘Brokers
Day,’ where we take real estate brokers on a tour of vacant storefronts to
showcase their potential, and one of our largest accomplishments was this past
summer’s Children’s Concert Series, which featured music geared towards
children’s dance and activities.”

He adds, “Even James the ice cream
bicycle guy
makes his rounds to Kenmore.”

Mayor Patrick Mang (just like the park) says, “We are thrilled to
be named one of the Top 10 Great Neighborhoods for 2009.  Everyone who lives and works in Kenmore
knows what a special place this is.”

“Kenmore has so much to offer – beautiful
homes, a strong business district, excellent public safety and emergency
services – but its greatest asset is its people and the strong sense of
community you find here,” according to Trustee Paul Catalano.

The American Planning Association will present
a plaque to the Village commemorating its designation as an Outstanding Neighborhood
at a press conference to take place on Saturday, October 31, at 11
AM.  The press conference will take
place on the Municipal Green at the corner of Delaware Avenue and Delaware
Road. 

The other communities recognized as Great
Neighborhoods for 2009 included Pasadena, CA; New Orleans, LA; Houston, TX;
Newport News, VA; Franklin, TN; Portland, OR; Fargo, ND; Lincoln, NE; and
Spokane, WA.

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About the author  ⁄ Dan Fisher

42 comments
rv
rv

I think a small grocery store would be perfect in there. We have small niche organic/gluten-free and ethnic groceries, and convenience stores in Kenmore, but the nearest full grocery stores are in Deerhurst Park/Englewood area (Dash's) and next to the low income development in North Buffalo (Pricemart) (neither being great pedestrian areas). A grocery store in the main pedestrian area would be nice (like the Co-op and Latinas on Elmwood), and I think Kenmore has enough people who would frequent a pedestrian-friendly grocery store to keep it in business.

rv
rv

That 1½ width lane drives me nuts. It turns into a parking lot during rush hour when people try to turn it into 2 lanes. They should just take the ½ lane from both sides and make a left turning lane.

rv
rv

I would love to see Elmwood Ave 'prettified' a bit, like they've done on Delaware. It is rather ugly in a lot of places. The sidewalks could use some maintenance too (biking on the Elmwood sidewalks is nearly out of the question in their current state).

sbrof
sbrof

Everyone seems to be missing the point that Walgreens was already there and serving the same population. So instead of having walgreens plus room for 3 other businesses and numerous apartments. There is just walgreens and a building that is not easily rehabed for anything now.

That is why it was negative for the village. The village has fewer locations for business, which means less taxes, it has fewer dwellings, which mean fewer people for the shops and retail there, and it has created a very anti-kenmore image right at Kenmore's gateway.

Buffalo Rising
Buffalo Rising

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Drew Ludwig joined WBFO News Director Mark Scott and me in Studio B for this week's podcast of the Buffalo Rising Round Table.  (Newell was out with a sick doggie.)We talked about the role of a member of the religious community on BRO, a...

The Kettle
The Kettle

i stand corrected. By your description though it sounds like EA used their positon to leverage an "urban friendly" pharm-bunker. Not ideal but better than a block long parking lot on your highest profile corner. All the kenmore people would have had to do was insist those things be incorporated to thier wallgreens and you would have seen better results.

JSmith
JSmith

iluvpitballs, I agree with you almost entirely regarding parking, but because I was just in East Aurora yesterday, I'd like to play devil's advocate and point out that they are constructing a new CVS on the corner of Main Street and Olean. Thankfully, the parking lot isn't taking up the corner, but it looks like the only door into the store will be from the gigantic parking lot, and both street-facing facades will just be blank walls with some windows (to be blocked by shelves on the inside, I assume). The village forced some aesthetic improvements (brick and stone facade), fake second floor with pretend "apartment" windows (like Elmwood's Bank of America), etc., but they still allowed a single-use structure with a giant parking lot.

So even East Aurora isn't invulnerable to the big boxes...

The Kettle
The Kettle

whatever>"The petition was wrong where it predicted Walgreens would cause "destruction of the entire block". Obviously the block is healthy and thriving."

Lets see, previous to the pharm-bunker, kenmore had a functioning, multi use complex of buildings fitting in with the rest of the village stretch of Delaware. Post bunker we have a gigantic pharmacy that already existed up the road plus a block wide dead space and some token landscaping. Plus the new pharm-bunker @ Del-Girard is left to rot with no re use in sight. A net loss of storefronts, apartments, small businesses and an empty building. Thats "healthy and thriving"?

As far as the petition goes, it shows that a significant protion of the village took the time to look the petition up and leave their names on it. Just because the village wasnt as gung ho enough to stop this doesnt mean they would have wanted it. It is very hard to stop this type of thing. Wallgreens throws a lot of money around and for many leaders that is too tough to pass up. Maybe residents should take that up with their leaders since Wallgreens has demonstrated that is has little regard for the long term viability of the village.

Whatever>"It may have helped Kenmore to be named one of America's top 10 neighborhoods by the same people who once said that about Elmwood."

Maybe. More likely, the village won on the strength of the rest of the district in spite of the two Wallgreen blemishes. The Wallgreen properties are examples of a company building with its own interests over pedestrians, small businesses and smart planning.

The Kettle
The Kettle

Very creative to count lots on other properties as part of both starbucks and spot. Even if this was a fair comparison you are forgetting that these much smaller lots are behind, or next to these properties creating a much better environment for people walking down the street. Even when you combine the non existing spot lot with the lot next to Blockbuster, you have a lot less dead space and more room for people.

If Wallgreens wanted to built their bunker up to the street corner, keep minimal parking mid block with only one driveway away from the street, design the place so it could be mixed use and reusable, and share parking with neighbors up the road you wouldnt hear a lick of complaining from me. Those are resrtictions the Village should have brought to the table.

whatever
whatever

Well, I said many people. I don't know either way if it's a majority of Kenmore but it obviously draws many more people per day than used Louie's and what was next to it (an earlier comment said a comic book store and tanning booths).

The petition you linked has 132 signatures. That's under 1% of Kenmore, and there's no way to know if each signature is a resident there. If a majority opposed it, they should have worked againist it in Kenmore elections.

The petition was wrong where it predicted Walgreens would cause "destruction of the entire block". Obviously the block is healthy and thriving. It may have helped Kenmore to be named one of America's top 10 neighborhoods by the same people who once said that about Elmwood. Kenmore never received that award before when the previous buildings were there. A mix can work fine of some to-the-curb along with some businesses with driveways, and some parking lots. The mix can be flexible and decided case by case.

whatever
whatever

pitbull, it isn't true to say Walgreens has more driveways than Starbucks-ETS. The parking lot of ETS also allows parking for Starbucks. It has two separate driveways onto Elmwood and the ETS drive thru, and access from another driveway on Delavan. That's a lot more than "one driveway leading in and out" as you described it.

Walgreens has a driveway each on Del and Ken, and a drive thru. People can just as easily walk past Walgreens at the Del-Ken corner as they can walk that block of Elmwood past ETS-Starbucks. They need to watch for cars in both.

Maybe the Lex Co-op didn't think of a drive thru, but they built a good sized parking lot facing Elmwood with a 2-way driveway onto it. That block is still walkable.

pitbull>"Spot has no lot or driveway"

Wrong too. As Bini has pointed out here, parking lots on Elmwood next to Blockbuster and next to WF (the lot Teilman tried and failed to to block from expanding) are owned by the Spot-Brodo landlord. Those are available for their customers, and also help free up spaces on Elmwood for customers of all businesses on that block.

The Kettle
The Kettle

Whatever> "Many average people eveidently consider it a big positive and make use of it, along with the parking and drive thru"-"For now, at least Kenmore residents apparently like Walgreens more than what was there before."

Those quotes imply that the majority of Kenmore supports the undoing of its commercial vitality and gives your argument in favor of unrestricted "growth" the illusion of mass support. Its not just the EV,cyclist,build it to the curb, Esmonde-Tielman-Gaughn,elitist, hippy, hate business crowd that supports pedestrian scale development-preservation. Check this out:

http://www.petitiononline.com/kenmore/petition.html

An "average" person started a petition to stop this and 132 "average people" took the time to look it up and sign it. It seems many people in Kenmore value "rich architectural heritage, appealing pedestrian scale, and existing small businesses of Delaware Avenue" over an "assault on Kenmore". They also didnt see the need to add to the already ample supply of pharm-bunkers that exist in the area. The fact that this petition didnt succeed, or that some in opposition may shop there, doesnt mean that the village was all in favor of this. The fact that people are shopping there just means that these large scale developments have made it tough for smaller businesses, who would offer similar products, to survive. Do you think Viddlers 5+10 could stay in business if the EA officials told the big box community to have at it with Main St.?

Aside from the petition, many people choose to live, and pay higher taxes, in this unique community for its historic charm and human>auto layout. It offers pedestrian friendly scale, charm etc. for those who dont want to live in the city. If what makes Kenmore unique is neglected and demolished over time, why would anybody live there over say Tonawanda?

The Kettle
The Kettle

As you have pointed out to me in the past "progress" can be a matter of opinion. To me, demolishing one of Kenmore's best features is very regressive. I want to vomit when I read articles about developers constructing "walkable" communities and we let an existing one rot away with short sighted "improvements". Preserving Kenmores streetscape and banning counterproductive, auto-centric development seems progressive to me. E. Aurora has fought off big boxes and many living there would consider themselves "progressive".

Whatever>"There's no guarantee the previous Louie's building would stay occupied either"

Its a pretty good bet that if they were kept up they would be re-rented pretty quick. Just look at the other period structures along Deleware and other like commercial districts. Besides, having smaller, mixed use properties is a better environment for small business. These buildings are re-used constantly while big boxes with corporate specific designs sit empty for years after they are scuttled.

The Elmwood examples are bad. Lexington, Starbucks have parking located in the rear,side of their buildings with one driveway leading in and out. Compared with Wallgreens which has multiple driveways and a huge frontal lot, the EV properties are much more pedestrian friendly. The WF at Auburn was built a while ago and based on the EV's rejection of a Wallgreens @ Elmwood+Delevan and expantion of Rite aid @ Elmwood + Bryant, would be impossible to build today. Spot has no lot or driveway and has the most active pedestrian activity of the properties you mentioned.

whatever
whatever

pit, It seemed Daniel was complaining about Kenmore getting the award.

There's no guarantee the previous Louie's building would stay occupied either. If Walgreens eventually abandons the Del-Ken corner, it's likely one of their competitors would use it. Maybe Kenmore should have demanded Walgreens put money in escrow to demo their previous vacant store if not occupied within a few years.

For now, at least Kenmore residents apparently like Walgreens more than what was there before. If Kenmore was inflexible about Walgreens' need for cars, it would have held back progress. As Buffalo Rising says, Kenmore is progressive.

A rule against any new driveway and parking is too extreme. As Elmwood shows, there can be a mix of parcels with and without driveways and still be walkable. The ETS-Starbucks block wouldn't be doing nearly as well without driveways and parking. Same for blocks near Auburn with W Farms, Spot, etc. - lots of parking and driveways, still walkable. Same with Lexington Co-op - driveway, parking lot, walkable.

The Kettle
The Kettle

Im not complaining about kenmore getting this pub the same way I didnt complain about Elmwood. Kenmore has a lot going for it thanks to their 1890s-1920s design and no thanks to the developers and public officials who have let its positive built environment deteriorate.

On wallgreens: They are no better than the Pizza hut, DD etc. but they have carved out holes on Delaware twice in the span of 15 years. Worse, the village govt seems to be okay with this. Much like the police force, the walkable streetscape gives Kenmore its identity and makes it attractive to the "average people" who chose to live there. Allowing large-scale demos to a functional corner is as wasteful as it is anti pedestrian. If you hack away at one of Kenmore's strongest selling points, you kill its distinction over places like Tonawanda or other 2nd ring burbs.

Bad for small business too when you displace 4 of them to construct a pharm-bunker that will be obsolete within 15 years. It would be interesting if Wallgreens picks Tonawanda or Buffalo for their next generation pharm-bunker and leaves Kenmore with two multi block dead zones 15 years from now. The village ought to take a page out of E auroras book and preserve their best features and leave the big boxes for other places. Who knows, Kenmore could have as favorable of a small business environment as EA while being in the heart of the metro area.

whatever
whatever

Walgreens at that corner is much better for more people of Kenmore than a Louie's Hotdog stand, a comic book store, and a tanning booth (if ohnobuffalo is right about those last two being there previously).

Look at how many people shop at Walgreens. Many average people eveidently consider it a big positive and make use of it, along with the parking and drive thru.

Why single out Walgreens as "hideous" and "anti-walkability"? Kenmore has quite a few other businesses with parking and driveways including landromats, Pizza Hut, gas stations, etc.

Did you also complain when Elmwood won the same award a couple years ago? EV has parking lots too - Blockbuster/Brodo, Wilson Farms, and several others. How are those any different from Walgreens?

The Kettle
The Kettle

Three small businesses + a pedestrian friendly streetscape beats a crap, cookie cutter pharmacy. Especialy since the pharmacy in question was built at the expence of another, older street killing wallgreens .5 mile up the road. Kenmore has now has an eyesore and a dead eyesore thanks to some short sighted politicians.

ohnobuffalo
ohnobuffalo

yeah i remember that great corner plaza. A run down comic book store, maybe a tanning salon, and Louie's Hotdog stand. Wow it was soo nice.

You are a dumbass. You cant save everything that sucks. Sometimes you need to knock stuff over and start fresh.

sbrof
sbrof

Was it beyond saving? Probably not. Also that Walgreens has made that corner very difficult for pedestrians. Whoever on the Kenmore planning board (if one even exists) allows the sidewalks to be completely removed to allow for the parking lot to spill into the road obviously has never had to walk anywhere.

It has basically put every pedestrian who walks by in danger because now the drivers don't even consider looking... and consider anyone walking straight on the sidewalk as impeding into their territory. When really the cars have to yield to the pedestrian walking across their driveway.

JSmith
JSmith

That's the old one they abandoned for the newer one on the corner of Delaware and Kenmore.

The CK
The CK

Haha. Walgreen's definitely did hose Kenmore. They got us good. That empty Walgreen's is going to rot forever.

galaxyjay
galaxyjay

Two Walgreens? There is only one on Delaware near Pizza Hut...which is the second you are referring to?

galaxyjay
galaxyjay

Two Walgreens? There is only one on Delaware near Pizza Hut...which is the second you are referring to?

galaxyjay
galaxyjay

Perfectly good? Actually the foundation was failing...

The Kettle
The Kettle

Two Wallgreens one of which is now vacant. Kenmore isnt as protective of their streetscape as they ought to be.

Daniel Sack
Daniel Sack

Even though they allowed demolition of a perfectly good mixed-use building and then allowed that hideous anti-walkability, anti-neighborhood Walgreens at Kenmore and Delaware?!

LouisTully
LouisTully

let's not go crazy here. the city has alot of steps to take before it starts adding to it's size. i like the energy but let's not put the cart before the horse.

George Thomas Apfel
George Thomas Apfel

Kenmore tried for many years to be annexed, as early as 1894 the Buffalo Morning Express reported annexation of Kenmore was "an excellent prospect." The village's incentive was financial, as apparently they had to pay a hefty amount for water and to hook into Buffalo's sewer system.

r129
r129

I would have considered living in Kenmore if not for the insanely high taxes.

Christine
Christine

The first and second on the list to be annexed would have to be Lackawanna and Blasdell.

Then I would put Kenmore on the list. Particularly because though similar...Kenmore has much more in common with North Buffalo than it does Tonawanda.

The CK
The CK

Yes!!! A long way in coming. It's surprising we won it now though, these days Kenmore seems a shadow of its former self. A total ghost town at night, old too, all the young people keep leaving, lots of empty storefronts... Still an awesome place to live though, all the good things of city living, without the negatives associated with suburban sprawl.

sbrof
sbrof

LOL actually in the 1930 the city council voted to not annex the Village... when the village petitioned to be incorporated into the city. Those were the days ;)

sbrof
sbrof

So true... urban is urban no matter what the name. Kenmore along with the other historic villages in Erie County have great potential for sustainable living.

Congrats to them! They deserve it.. although they did sell out to Walgreen at the corner...

sonyactivision
sonyactivision

Kenmore is a great community and deserves notice!

LouisTully
LouisTully

Oh God dude. nail on the head. it's insanity and so dangerous. you get people making a left and it's a diaspora to the right. how smart do you need to be to realize that and change it. they should make it like hertel with the turn lane and one lane each way. bike lane's a good idea too

donnybagadonuts
donnybagadonuts

congrats on having 'Kenmore' and 'progressive' in same sentence for first time in recorded history. yaaaay!

shakeman
shakeman

Next up - the Villages of East Aurora and Hamburg, and the "real" village of Williamsville (not the suburban wasteland of Amherst and Clarence included in the Williamsville Post Office/zip code designations).

Villages, whether incorporated or merely a neighborhood designation (i.e. Elmwood), represent the most sustainable (and to my mind most attractive) communities going forward.

Platt4
Platt4

The City should annex it.

sin|ill
sin|ill

Seriously. its where i grew up. there seem to be more chain pharmacies than pedestrians on some days. but, on a recent visit home, i had to run (literally) to the M&T bank to use the ATM, and looking around the commercial strip, it did strike me as having real potential. one thing though- the large assisted living center (i think thats what it is) on Nash and Del Ave needs some ivy to cover up the weird aesthetic choices (such a hideous building).

DMZ
DMZ

I live in N Buffalo. It is amazing the difference once you cross Kenmore Ave. It's one of the top places to move once my kid is old enough for school. My only issue is the quasi 2 lane road on Deleware Ave. It would be nice to put a bike lane there or maybe a median in the center. Too much road rage takes place here becasue no one quite knows if there are 2 lanes.

Christine
Christine

How did they manage to only show them the part of Kenmore east of Delaware? LOL

al labruna
al labruna

Congrats to the (hopefully future) borough of Kenmore!

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