Study on future of Central Terminal happening this week

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- By the end of this week there may be a plan for the future of the Central Terminal.

A panel of national experts are putting together suggestions for redevelopment and reuse. They will present a report to city and state leaders on Friday.

“It’s a great building, obviously, with a great history and great community support,” said Michael Stern, who is leading a group from the Urban Land Institute.

The team includes 12 planning and architectural experts from across the country, including cities like Seattle, Dallas and Atlanta.

The ULI team will determine the best way to redevelop and reuse the property.

They plan to interview more than 70 stakeholders.

“To get a sense of what the community’s vision is for the place or what their aspirations are,” said Stern.

They plan to answer questions about how the history can be preserved, whether it could include a public transportation hub or have a residential use and how will it all be paid for.

“In the end I don’t think there is any one individual idea that will resolve this challenge,” said Sam Hoyt, Empire State Development Regional President.

He told News 4 the report provides suggestions for where to start.

“This is really the first opportunity where there will be a comprehensive survey of all the stakeholders of urban planners, of architects, of neighbors, of businesses,” said Hoyt.

Samuel Herbert lives in the Broadway-Fillmore area and told News 4 some neighborhood groups were not invited to weigh in on the future of the Central Terminal.

“This is strictly the audacity of individuals who don’t live in this neighborhood, who don’t live in the City of Buffalo, who are from out of town,” said Herbert.

He said the future of the neighborhood should be determined by people living in it.

ULI is familiar with Buffalo, the group helped come up with plans to redevelop One Seneca Tower and the Richardson Complex.

The study costs $135,000. The state and city are both contributing $50,000, ULI is investing $35,000 in the report.

“I think it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars,” said Herbert.

Mayor Byron Brown told News 4 the report will attract the interest of national developers.

“That will have the know-how, expertise and the resources to get something done here at the Central Terminal,” said Mayor Brown.

He said it will also draw attention to the investments being made in the neighborhood and what can still be done to revitalize the area.

News 4 asked Mayor Brown what his vision for the Central Terminal is and he responded, “an amusement area, an area that people could come to go on rides, go to tour the architecture maybe, come to have their wedding, wedding reception.”

He also suggested it could be a hotel.

Hoty agrees the site should eventually be a public space.

Toronto Developer Harry Stinson attended the reception to kick off the study. He told News 4 he is still interested in redeveloping the Central Terminal. He envisions a hotel, events center and possibly a movie studio.

His agreement with the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation was just about finalized when, he said, the non-profit decided to go in a different direction.

Stinson will meet with the ULI team this week and plans to express his goals for the property.

“If the building isn’t, and the community and the whole infrastructure around here, isn’t planned as some viable ongoing entity, whether it’s a business or events center, it will just fade away again,” said Stinson. “It needs to have a life of its own.’

Mayor Brown said the decision to move on from Stinson as the developer helped trigger this study. He told News 4 Stinson could still be chosen for the project.

“We’re pleased that development firm is still interested in developing the property and they will still contribute to the ULI study,” said Mayor Brown.

Mayor Brown said once they review the roughly 20 page report, they will put out a nationwide request for proposals.

 

 

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