Congress for New Urbanism comes to Buffalo

(BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Hundreds of developers and planners from around the country have converged on Buffalo for the annual Congress for New Urbanism conference.

“This is a huge deal for our community,” said Mayor Bryon Brown as he welcomed the crowd at the Buffalo Convention Center.

The group’s president, John Nordquist, offered a suggestion to tear down the Skyway, which drew applause.

Karen Minkel came from Arkansas and said she had heard about Buffalo last year.

“I heard about economic development that’s been happening here and the vision that’s been laid out.”

Linda Mia Franco of Florida offered up this advice: “I think they need to work on the buildings around downtown, like the sidewalks and things like that, to make those improvements to try to revive this area.”

Developer Rocco Termini gave many of them a tour of downtown, including his recently restored Lafayette Hotel. But Termini’s latest project represents a new urbanism. Nine months ago he began restoring the former FWS building on Elmwood near Hertel into apartments.

“We’re a hundred percent rented. Every apartment is rented, all 46, and all the commercial space is rented,” said Termini. “It says that people want to live in cool spaces.”

His idea is to create walkable communities, one block at a time.

Now that the Foundry is finished, Termini will began transforming a building right across the street, the old American Radiator building, into 38 more apartments. He says because his buildings are considered historic, 40 percent of the project cost is defrayed by tax credits.

“Without the use of tax credits none of these projects make any economic sense.”

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