The Greater University District (G.U.D.) Plan provides a clear and cohesive vision to enhance the intersection of the Town of Amherst, the Town of Tonawanda, and the City of Buffalo. While these three municipalities have unique characteristics and plans, based on demographic data they hold an accumulative population of over 457,000 people in only an area of 100 square miles. Therefore, the municipalities must work in conjunction to ensure increased effectiveness of programs, better quality of life, and increased economic development within and between each location. By building on existing initiatives and plans, the G.U.D. Plan aims to strengthen assets and transform this area into a healthy, vibrant, and welcoming community.
Because our study area includes the University Heights neighborhood in Buffalo, and, in effect, surrounds South Campus physically, socially, and economically, for the purposes of this project the area will be called the Greater University District (G.U.D.). G.U.D. transects the Town of Amherst, the Town of Tonawanda, and the City of Buffalo. This includes Census Tracts 43, 46.01, 46.02, 47, 80.01, 80.03, 93.01, 93.02, 94.01 and 95.01. Significant points of interest within the area include the University at Buffalo South Campus, Niagara Falls Boulevard, University Plaza, and the University Station on the metro rail. Because our site encompasses the borders of these municipalities, the area lacks a cohesive vision, which this plan aims to create.
The first step in creating a new, more cohesive vision for the Greater University District was examining existing conditions to understand the neighborhoods in the study area and the quality of life of residents. Conditions studied include demographics, infrastructure, land use, both the built and natural environments, and transportation.
Understanding of the surrounding context provided a strong foundation to develop design concepts, policies, and programs that bridge the borders between municipal boundaries. These ideas build on the study area’s strengths and opportunities, and address issues and threats to meet the municipalities and neighborhoods’ goals and objectives.
The goal of the GUD Plan is to encourage intermunicipal planning and connect the Greater University District across municipal borders. This was done by addressing issues that the Town of Amherst, the Town of Tonawanda, and the City of Buffalo equally struggle with and need to work together to solve. These issues include autocentric design that is unwelcoming and unsafe for pedestrians, lack of integration amongst the diverse demographics present, and unconnected assets throughout the area. The culmination of all the data, analysis, interviews, and knowledge has been used to develop specific design and policy recommendations that will benefit the Greater University District and encourage intermunicipal planning to solve problems.