BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Buffalo is a city that is seeing big growth as more people begin to live and work in downtown.
According to the Buffalo Office of Strategic Planning, 2,000 new housing units have become available since 2014.
However, that growth is bringing with it growing pains in the form of parking issues.
"No. There isn't enough. It is very crowded around here," said Lawrence Brose, Executive Director of the CEPA Gallery inside the Market Arcade Building that sits between Main and Washington Streets.
The question became even larger this week after it was announced that a $50 million affordable housing project at 201 Ellicott Street will include a Braymiller Market but eliminate over 300 downtown parking spaces in the process.
"If you eliminate all this parking, you are eliminating the future of downtown," said Rocco Termini, a Buffalo developer who restored the old Hotel Lafayette.
City officials and developers for the 201 Ellicott project say they believe the city has enough existing parking to absorb the cars that will be displaced by construction.
But it is something that Common Council President Darius Pridgen plans to keep an eye on as the project progresses.
"What I don't want to see is a similar situation like we saw in the Fruit Belt corridor in which parking spilled out into the residential areas," explained Pridgen.
Brendan Mehaffy, Executive Director of the City's Office of Strategic Planning, told 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly that parking is something which is constantly reviewed and evaluated as the city expands.
Mehaffy said he believes there is enough parking capacity in the downtown area to handle the cars currently using the 201 Ellicott municipal lot - which can hold 375 vehicles.
In addition, the city recently created 700 new on-street parking spaces without taxpayer cost, added Mehaffy.
As to the idea of constructing more parking ramps, Mehaffy said cost is a huge factor as a new 1,200 car ramp will run $30 million.
He added that the city continues to look for affordable ways to deal with parking issues, such as exploring public-private partnerships to build new structure parking facilities.
It is a complicated issue because a younger generation of people are increasingly skipping getting driver's licenses or buying vehicles.
"People are telling us that they want Buffalo to be a city that is livable with good access," commented Mehaffy.