Buffalo Green Code

Buffalo, New York

Buffalo’s Green Code, a citywide form-based code (FBC) that eliminated off-street parking requirements, was adopted in early 2017. While the Green Code has enabled new mixed-use infill development, its biggest impact is in facilitating the rehabilitation of historic buildings in a slow-growth, pre-1950-era city.

The code has permitted the revival of legacy storefronts that were vacant or converted to residential. Development is taking place in old industrial buildings like Pierce-Arrow Motor Car and the city’s famous grain silos near the Lake Erie waterfront. Large vacant downtown buildings like the early 20th Century Statler hotel and the Art Deco former police headquarters are being rehabilitated. These developments would have been difficult or economically unfeasible under the old code.

“These projects illustrate the biggest, perhaps unexpected results of the Green Code: helping enable the rehabilitation of our historic building stock, reigniting entrepreneurial activity in high poverty neighborhoods, and gradual repair of Buffalo’s fragmented urban neighborhoods through infill development,” says local urbanist and preservationist Chris Hawley. “Legalizing the historic mix of uses in Buffalo neighborhoods, and removing all minimum parking requirements, have been the Green Code's two highest-impact reforms.”

Elimination of parking requirements is allowing projects to be unshackled and “gentle density” to be added across the city. Some large projects are being built that would have been blocked by parking requirements. One example is 201 Ellicott, which includes 200 units of affordable housing downtown and a grocery store. The living spaces have no dedicated parking.

New infill with zero parking built according to the Green Code.

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