09/28/05 08:00 - 70ºF - ID#28185
Location: Buffalo, NY
09/27/05 07:47 - 64ºF - ID#28184
Location: Buffalo, NY
09/26/05 08:02 - 67ºF - ID#28183
Location: Buffalo, NY
09/26/05 06:48 - 69ºF - ID#28182
Small Shops east aurora
FOCUS: EAST AURORA
The little village that wouldn't
East Aurora has maintained its quaint ambience by telling big-box stores to stay out of town - and making it stick
By KAREN ROBINSON
News Southtowns Bureau
Click to view larger picture
Derek Gee/Buffalo News
Village Trustee Elizabeth Cheteny wants East Aurora to be a model for other communities seeking to preserve their small-town identity.
Wal-Mart went up against East Aurora twice and lost both times.
Wegmans wanted to give the community its best. The village helped give it the boot.
And this summer, village leaders drove out restaurant drive-throughs.
Is it any wonder that East Aurora is the community where developers fear to tread?
East Aurora's get-tough stance on development, its vigorous and successful opposition to keeping out "big box retailers" like Wal-Mart and a healthy sense of community are key factors in retaining its atmosphere of a bygone era boasting small-town charm and a vibrant business district.
Some see this approach as an impediment to progress. But village officials and community leaders look around at the cookie-cutter developments in nearby communities and hear of the traffic problems in places like Williamsville and Hamburg that make for hazardous driving and walking conditions and say: If that's progress, you can have it.
"Old-time Main Street is what people are striving for. It's the new way," Village Trustee Libby Weberg said. "It's coming back around. A lot of communities have to reverse what they've done - suburban-style, auto-driven development."
The community's latest move was daring and controversial: banning new restaurant drive-throughs along Main Street.
At a time when some restaurant chains are erecting new buildings specifically because they want a drive-through, East Aurora's decision might seem shortsighted.
"How can you eliminate drive-throughs, at a time when people utilize them and they're a normal part of a lot of business plans?" asked Gary Grote, executive director of the Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce.
The ban's chief proponent, Trustee Elizabeth Cheteny, makes no apologies.
"We can be a model for other communities," said Cheteny, a preservationist and professional planner on the staff at the University at Buffalo.
"All too often, developers want to impose faceless, nameless architecture anywhere," she said. "They hit a wall here. We don't want to be anywhere; we want to be East Aurora."
Talk of the drive-through restriction sparked immediate results, even before the Village Board enacted it. Starbucks Coffee and Dunkin' Donuts revised their plans, eliminating drive-throughs after the village initially rejected their proposals.
Some merchants think it was a wise move to clamp down on drive-throughs.
"Drive-throughs bring additional cars and break up foot traffic. We need to keep a walkable community," said Lisa Hoffman, owner of KidBiz, a children's boutique. "Once we start to lose that, it would kill all these businesses. People would not park their cars and walk through small shops."
While stances such as the drive-through ban are considered rigid by some, others say it hardly rolls out the welcome mat for developers.
"Many businesses won't even come into East Aurora because they know what they're up against," said Aurora Building Inspector Patrick Blizniak, citing a pullout in 1997 by Wegmans and others.
A fine line
For years, East Aurora has straddled a fine line between controlled growth and a desire for new business. It has made the community the envy of others that many times have struggled to define their niche against big-time development.
Working in East Aurora's favor, is its location.
As the hub for five surrounding rural communities, East Aurora is like the big city to some and has been for years - further fueling longtime support for the mom-and-pop stores.
Equally important, it is far enough away from retail giants and suburban malls that many don't want to drive that far and prefer to shop right in their own back yard.
"I hope there's always the mom-and-pop stores and little shops," said Linda Coletti, manager of Toy Loft, a specialty toy store on upper Main. "There's something for everybody. It would be sad if none of this exists across the country. Every place would look the same."
East Aurora also has benefited from watching what has gone on elsewhere.
"Our location helps us because when the Cheektowagas, West Senecas and Lancasters were being bombarded with development and had no citizens groups yet, we were this sleepy little town that was left alone for a really long time," said Ellen Moomaw, a member of East Aurora's Citizens Coalition.
Ed Vidler, president of the family's 75-year-old five-and-dime store on upper Main, has long likened the village to Brigadoon.
"It's one of the few towns that's always been self-supporting," said Vidler, 77, pointing to its horse-racing heritage, the famed Roycroft campus and Fisher-Price's roots.
Vidler says reasonable growth is important.
"Had Wal-Mart come in, East Aurora wouldn't be what it is today," he said. "I think the concern now is urban sprawl and keeping business right in the core."
Citizens are active
East Aurora also stands out, many say, because of how active its citizens are in community issues and government. Plus, the weekly farmers' market, a slew of annual events and festivals bolster community spirit. There are even wooden garbage bins, with hand-carved Roycroft sayings, that line Main Street.
"A lot of communities don't have those things," Cheteny said. "It's a step back in time, and it's working."
Still, government officials and citizens groups remain vigilant about what developers want to do in the community.
"I don't think it's a matter of development or no development, but development that's shaped for the community," Cheteny said. "A village's character erodes slowly, and you don't realize it right away. It's rarely one project. It's a series of small decisions - a gradual erosion of what makes a place special."
Last year, Aurora town leaders capped the maximum size of any new retail/commercial buildings at 55,000 square feet, though it only applies in the town. The Aurora Citizens for Smart Growth spurred the town to consider the restriction after leading a fight five years ago against a $12 million Wal-Mart Supercenter proposed for Olean Road and renewed talk in the past few years of Wal-Mart's looking to expand its presence in the Southtowns.
Village officials never adopted a parallel measure, though they now are working on a set of design guidelines for commercial development while refining the village code to eliminate ambiguities so that developers know what the village is looking for when they make proposals.
"A healthy mix of retail is good. A number of chains shows a strong market, but I wouldn't want to see them dominate," Cheteny said. "Why shouldn't we set some ground rules for development and set standards for what we want?"
Moomaw says its important that the community stick together. "Keeping everything small and slower-moving, keeps all of us villagers together more - feeling like a family," she said. "We all love this place and can sit on our front porches and watch it go by and appreciate it. It does kind of have that timelessness."
Location: Buffalo, NY
09/25/05 10:22 - 64ºF - ID#28181
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride was really outhere. However most of his movies are so that is something you need to expect. I enjoyed it, even though it is a little morbid. I found some of it funny. I don't know if you would call it animation or what style of animation it is. He used the same type as in Nightmare Before Christmas. I thought it looked really good and was an enjoyable to look at movie.
Location: Buffalo, NY
09/25/05 09:56 - 64ºF - ID#28180
Front Page > Entertainment > Gusto > Features
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A busy time in a new Sphere
Under its new banner, Town Ballroom books a full slate of acts
By JEFF MIERS
News Pop Music Critic
The danger in loving this city so much is that one becomes a cheerleader, or at the very least, a willfully optimistic soothsayer predicting great things around the corner, if we'll only hold on just a little bit longer.
When it was announced several months ago that the Sphere would soon be operated by a new team, remodeled and reopened with one eye on its formidable history as the Town Casino and the other on its potential future as a hotbed of concert-club activity, man, I wanted to believe it was really going to happen. And I wrote as much.
Looks like I'm not going to have to eat my (romantic and hopeful) words this time around. The Sphere is no more; long live the Town Ballroom, under the auspices of a new team and the watchful booking eye of Fun Time Presents' Artie Kwitchoff and Donny Kutzbach.
Over the past few weeks, Fun Time has been unveiling its schedule of confirmed bookings, and I've been receiving them with a mixture of glee and gloom; glee for obvious reasons, gloom only because the fall is supposed to be my down time, when I take a few breaths and recover from the hectic summer concert season. Apparently, Kutzbach and Kwitchoff have other plans; they're starting to stock the schedule at the Town Ballroom to the hilt, as if we're thirsting to death here in the desert and they've got truckloads of water to offer.
Part of what makes this flurry of activity exciting is the diversity of the lineup. There's modern alternative rock, blues, progressive music, jam bands - you name it. And if you've ever been to the Sphere, you'll know that the sightlines and sound are among the best in town, a fact that didn't escape the Fun Time folks, who made further improvements on both fronts.
Here are a few of the shows planned for the Town Ballroom in the coming weeks.
Acoustic Alchemy, Tuesday
Pennywise, H2O and A Wilhelm Scream, Oct. 2
Robert Fripp, Oct. 5
Badfish, a tribute to Sublime, with the Red Chord, Oct. 7
Bob Weir and Ratdog, Oct. 9
Seether and 30 Seconds to Mars, with guests Haelstorm, Oct. 10
Former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, Oct. 14
Kathleen Edwards, Oct. 19
The Dresden Dolls, DeVotchka and Faun Fables, Oct. 23
Henry Rollins, Oct. 25
The Glengharry Boys, Nov. 5
David Wilcox, Nov. 11
The Blue Rodeo show originally slated for Sept. 22 has been rescheduled for Nov. 13.
The Robert Cray Band, Nov. 14
Matchbook Romance, Armor tor Sleep, Gatsbys American Dream and Lovedrug, Nov. 19
Living Colour, Dec. 2
Hawthorne Heights, Silverstein, Bayside and Aiden, Dec. 8.
Tickets for all of these shows will be available through Tickets.com. Follow happenings at the Town Ballroom by visiting www.townballroom.com.
A toast is in order
Congratulations to this year's inductees into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, all of whom will be honored during the annual inductees ceremony, held this year at - you guessed it - the Town Ballroom at 8 p.m. Thursday.
This year, we'll celebrate our area's rich musical culture by offering a tip of the hat to Willie Nile, Mel Lewis, Mike Nowakowski, Venetta Fields, Gurf Morlix, Don Menza, John Hey and the Colored Musicians Club. All of these folks have had a major impact on shaping the musical landscape of Buffalo and many of them went on to become ambassadors for our city.
Nile will jet in from his adopted home in New York City to perform that evening. All scheduled to make some beautiful noise are Venetta Fields, Wendell Rivera, Macy Favor Plus Four, Janice Mitchell and the Hall of Fame All-Stars.
Tickets are $20 and can be found at Tickets.com or by calling (888) 223-6000.•
Location: Buffalo, NY
09/22/05 07:15 - 76ºF - ID#28179
Location: Buffalo, NY
09/22/05 06:45 - 76ºF - ID#28178
Blue Cross Building article
FOCUS: DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT
Beauty or beast? Beholders differ on new architectural creation
Design of BlueCross BlueShield's next home strikes some as suburban intrusion into classic cityscape
By MARK SOMMER
News Staff Reporter
The first privately funded building in downtown Buffalo in well over a decade would keep more than 1,300 employees in the city and clean up a brownfield.
One might expect some excitement.
But in some circles, people are concerned that in a city known for buildings designed by the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan, the new headquarters for BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York will look like just another suburban office park.
The architect, though, envisions a landmark building that melds Buffalo's past with its future.
At the heart of the controversy is a modern glass and concrete design that has a 60-foot stone facade, the sole remnant from the Gas Works factory of 1848, in the foreground.
The project has received approval from the city's Planning Commission, but it still faces a vote from the Preservation Board today. Although that board's vote is nonbinding, a thumbs down could put the matter before the Common Council.
"I think people will be poking fun at it for decades to come. I think it will be a new Buffalo punch line," said Cynthia Van Ness, president of the Preservation Coalition of Erie County and a member of the Buffalo Preservation Board.
Preservation Board member Sam Gurney, however, thinks the building will be a wonderful addition to downtown.
"The design fits very well with the city," Gurney said. "I think it blends the old with the new."
The dominant feature is a 350-foot-long curved glass front on the southern portion of the building, facing Lake Erie.
"The main presentation of the skyline [from the Niagara Thruway] is going to be this building. It's a behemoth," said architect Matt Maier of Hamilton Houston Lownie Architects.
Christopher F. Guerra of the Preservation Board sees the building making a valuable contribution. "Overall, I think it's going to be not a landmark structure, but a nice-looking structure," he said.
The sprawling, L-shaped complex includes an eight-story tower, a six-story operations building and seven-story atrium linking the two, plus a 1,500-space parking garage connected by bridges to the main building.
The $86.3 million project by HealthNow New York, the parent company of BlueCross BlueShield, marks the largest private office building to be built in Buffalo since the Key Towers were built in Fountain Plaza in the late 1980s.
Architect Steven R. Risting of CSO Schenkel Shultz, and Duke Realty Corp., the building's developer and owner, both of Indianapolis, have partnered on mostly suburban projects in the Midwest.
Architect defends design
Risting said the HealthNow New York corporate headquarters was designed to be a "distinctive landmark" building that is also sustainable and energy-efficient.
"We chose to be a modern, 21st century building, with a respect for the historic architectural and urban design legacy of Buffalo," Risting said.
He rejects the notion his design resembles a suburban office building.
"That's where you get into the variety of opinion concerning what architecture is," Risting said. "The level of detail that is being put into this building you're not going to find out in the suburbs. It is a building that I think is of Buffalo, that references Buffalo, and is of this site."
One challenge was to integrate the 19th century landmark stone wall with a 21st century building. Risting said that it was not used as a prime entry, as some assumed it would be, because the factory wall never served that purpose. Instead, the wall is connected to the main building, with a second-floor terrace behind it.
"One of the most surprising things to me about that facade is how much it was lacking in window openings," Risting said. "It was an exquisitely detailed garden wall, and we've kind of treated it as a garden wall."
Some critics say the facade looks like a fish out of water.
Matthew Moscati of TRM Architect is disappointed in how the wall is used, and with the project as a whole.
"My impression of the building is that the design is an opportunity lost," Moscati said.
Guerra, who is also an architect with Hamilton Houston Lownie Architects, said Risting did well with a difficult task.
"It's not an easy thing to design around a piece of history like that," Guerra said.
Risting said many of his decisions were meant to pay homage to Buffalo's classic architecture.
A reference to Buffalo's brick Great Northern grain elevator, for instance, was made by the use of a vertical shaft of bricklike concrete. It intersects the horizontal mass of glass meant to suggest the lake, Risting said.
A connection to Larkin
Likewise, the building's use of daylight and places for interaction are meant to mimic Wright's Larkin Administration Building, demolished in Buffalo a half-century ago, he said.
For some, those connections are too general or elusive.
Maier, for instance, likes the grain elevator tie-in. "Anything else is rather simplistic," he said.
"I don't see the references [Risting] said are there," Van Ness said.
Several Preservation Board members also complained that the self-contained site would not be urban- or pedestrian-friendly. Risting was asked to address some of the board's concerns at today's meeting.
"My biggest disappointment with the building is the insensitivity to the street and the pedestrian. It really isn't an urban building; it has a suburban office feel to it," Guerra said.
Risting said he believes that many of the criticisms will cease if there is more development west of City Hall.
"The comments are in reference to it being a detached building," Risting said. "Hopefully, the city can continue to grow to meet the building so it isn't so isolated."
BlueCross BlueShield's new quarters are expected to be ready for occupancy in August 2007. That is a few months before the company must vacate its current headquarters at 1901 Main St., next to Canisius College.
But first, the site is being remediated for coal tar and benzene, remnants of when the site was used to convert coal into gas.
Dennis T. Gorski, former Erie County executive and now BlueCross BlueShield's vice president of government programs, says the company's decision to invest in the site will pay great dividends for Buffalo.
"We are remediating a site that was contaminated, we are preserving a facade and we are bringing in close to 1,300 employees," Gorski said.
Risting said he believes that the building will eventually take its place alongside Buffalo's architectural treasures.
"I've read where past buildings here were criticized for being too bold, too modern, and those buildings have gone on to become landmarks, as places of excellence," Risting said.
"Whether you like it or not, I guess, it will turn your head. That's good architecture."
Van Ness isn't so sure.
"It always amazes me that out-of-town architects first come here and gush about our architectural heritage," she said, "and then deliver designs that clash with everything around them."
Location: Buffalo, NY
09/21/05 08:28 - 75ºF - ID#28177
Ok the picture of ladycroft works so it must something on my end and not (e:strip). Hopefully I'll figure it out in a couple days. I tryed publish and I get a message that it needs to have and ending like jpg and it does not sure what is going on now sometthing funky.
Location: Buffalo, NY
09/19/05 07:32 - 76ºF - ID#28176
Here are some pictures from Toronto and the hard rock cafe. I hope they look ok since I had to shirnk them. I also found it odd that there was an ad in the mens bathroom. If I would have been in there alone I would have like to take a picture of it. About 6 minutes till the two Monday night football games start.
I tried to upload pics but It gave me some message about them not being and excepted file type. That is odd in any event I had fun and will try to post them later.
Location: Buffalo, NY
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