Forest is neighborhood is the northern segment of the larger Upper West District, which also includes the Grant Ferry neighborhood to the South. Forest was developed around the turn of the 19th century and was known as a traditional landing zoning for immigrants thanks to its convenient location near the Lake and many jobs. Grant Ferry initially welcomed many Sicilian immigrants. In the 50s-70s it became home to many Puerto Rican and SE Asian enclaves. Most recently large Somali, Bhutanese, Sudanese, Middle Eastern, Eastern European, and Hispanic immigrants.
Like many American neighborhoods disinvestment came to the Forest neighborhood in the 70s. Historically Grant Street was the blight line dividing more blight and “immigrant” areas to the west and more stable and “White” areas to the east. This is not as hard and fast of a line as it is for the Grant Ferry neighborhood to the south. But unlike East Buffalo, Forest was mostly left standing thanks to a large influx of immigrants.
Gentrification is making the traditional Grant St blight line more and more fuzzy as North Buffalo’s revitalization pushes westward. More and more homes around and west of Grant St are being fully renovated and selling in the 200Ks and low 300Ks. The revitalization of Grant St is also coming along. Niagara St along the lake recently received a streetscaping overhaul, although still has many missing teeth. Overall Grant Ferry has great public transit, bike infrastructure, diverse housing, great racial & economic diversity, solid cultural & retail amenities, and generally good urban form. Main areas for improvement include: revitalization of Grant Street, need for more parks, better schools, and more diverse for-sale options and more apartments.
* Quality public transit access.
* Only 3 miles from Dwtn. Only a 15 minute drive and 28 min bus ride. University of Buffalo is pretty easy to drive to, but challenging transit trip.
* Good bike infrastructure with plenty a nice north-south bike lane on Niagara and diagonal one on Bidwell Parkway.
* Good diverse across all categories.
* Decent amount of rental housing that’s pretty affordable. 1-beds range btwn $850-1.4K, & 3 beds generally btwn 1K-2k.
* Good mix of affordable, moderately priced, and high end housing. 2-beds sell btwn low 125K to low 200ks, 3 & 4 beds sell btwn the low 100Ks-700K.
* Great historic architecture in both residential and commercial areas.
* Very good sidewalk infrastructure and generally consistant ADA curbs but sometimes its missing.
* Good cultural amenities including many restaurants, bars, cafes, several art galleries, a couple live music venues, and several museums either within or near the Forest neighborhood.
* Good retail amenities as well including a Co-op grocery store, a farmer’s market store front, a couple grocerias, a couple boutiques & consignment stores, several book stores, a post office, only a couple churches, and great access to the psychiatric hospital.
* Not a ton of modern in-fill but some good mixed use and commercial bldgs along Grant and Elmwood St.
* Urban massing and streetscape are great along Elmwood. Massing is decent along Grant. Niagara is a mixed bag. Lots of warehouses and autocentric industrial businesses mixed together but new streetscaping here.
* Several schools on the edges of the neighborhood but not the heart of it. Mixed ratings.
* Crime issues are certainly getting better but plenty of blight and crime issues still west of Ferry Street.
* Decent Park space access but certainly better than neighboring Grant Ferry. There is a nice splash pad park, Bidwell Parky, access to the green space of the State Hospital, and decent access to Delaware Park (.5-1 mile from the neighborhood).
* Condo for sale options are largely missing from the Grant Ferry housing market. There also are few larger apartment buildings. This would go a long way towards adding density to the district.