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W. Chippewa Street makeover in the works

Following a pattern of other major thoroughfares in downtown Buffalo, W. Chippewa Street could be in line for a facelift.

City leaders are considering a $3 million makeover of the popular entertainment district that will include a new streetscape with decorative lighting, new plantings and other amenities. It will follow a similar streetscape renovation pattern that took place along Delaware Avenue and is planned for the Genesee Gateway area between Washington and Elm streets.

If approved, the work could begin next year.

"There's a lot happening on Chippewa Street from the new Delaware North headquarters to IBM moving into Key Center," said Brandye Merriweather, Buffalo Urban Development Corp. project coordinator.

It would also tie with the emergence of the Chippewa Alliance, a private sector-driven volunteer group, who wants to keep the district a popular destination for business investment and those looking for entertainment options in downtown Buffalo.

W. Chippewa Street transformed itself from a gritty, urban neighborhood into a chic destination in the early 1990s. It has gone through various incarnations — some better than others — in the past two decades. In recent years, it is re-emerging as a destination for both college-aged students and older, downtown workers and visitors thanks to new venues like the Lodge Bar, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and Mark Croce's revamped Buffalo Chophouse and Lift nightclub.

Merriweather said representatives from Buffalo's Department of Public Works are seeing what the boundaries are for the project and firming up its potential cost and timeline.

"Given all the high visibility of major projects along Chippewa Street, this is something everybody wants to happen," Merriweather said.