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Urban Habitat Proposed at Central Terminal

A living inner-city demonstration classroom that features habitat restoration, native plants, and sustainable site development/construction while explaining the benefits of bio-diversity is planned for three acres of unused property at the front door of the Central Terminal.  The Buffalo Urban Habitat Project and Classroom is seen as a Buffalo first and a model that can be repeated elsewhere as greening and urban farming gain favor in a shrinking city.

The project is seen as more than just a landscaping effort.  The improvements will remediate the site, create habitat, become a learning lab, and will enhance efforts to restore the Central Terminal and unify the community.

The urban habitat will demonstrate Regenerative and Ecological Design – RED – principles; the next generation of sustainability and “green.”  It will feature water conservation/re-use/recycling and utilize soil remediation.  Phyto- and bio-remediation as well as mycoremediation techniques will be applied.

“We’re not looking to just sustain the site, but making it even better; regenerating and bringing back the attributes of the original conditions,” said landscape contractor Premium Services Inc. owner and one of the leads for the project, Dave Majewski.

Majewski is working with the Curtis Urban Farm Foundation (CUFF) and the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation to develop the project.


UHP2.pngPlans include:
• Large groves of native trees
• Meadow and native grass areas
• Native trees and shrubs that are sustainable/edible/medicinal/historical
• four-season foliage, texture, fruit and color
• Natural regeneration area
• Native fruiting shrubs and trees
• Native wildflower zone – already constructed across the street
• Areas designed for attracting specific birds and insects
• Water/wetland zone

There will also be a storm water runoff demonstration section that utilizes the existing topography of the site for capturing runoff and using it within the wetlands area.  Solar panels are expected to provide for the energy needs of a pump, filter and aerator in the wetland area.

CTAerial.bmp“We have even been modifying the plan to include bat houses and blue bird houses because of the open space at the Central Terminal and the already diverse population of birds,” said Majewski.  “There will be wood bee posts also.  These bees are pollinating bee that is a reasonable substitute for the common honey bee that is suffering from the CCD syndrome.”

“When complete, it will be an educational, self sustaining and interpretive model of bio diversity.” Dave Majewski, landscape consultant.

Educational and interpretive signage is planned and seasonal educational and demonstration sessions will be conducted.  Management, monitoring, and maintenance will be assisted by college students, namely from Professor Brenda Young’s biology students from Daemen College, and summer youth and neighborhood residents. 

DSCF9087.JPG“It will be a unifying force for the community,” said Majewski.  “I expect the project will bring a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment to this east side community.”

The project site is near fifteen vacant lots on Peckham, Clark and Lombard streets being reclaimed by CUFF.  The lots have been cleared, cultivated and amended (see photos at bottom).  Sudan grass, buckwheat and clover and peas have been planted.  One lot was seeded with wildflowers.  The new planting will help remediate and aerate the soil.  Bat houses have been putted up also.

The Central Terminal area along Memorial Drive has beautiful double-wide exposed aggregate sidewalks.  Weeds will be scraped off the sidewalks and power washed making a huge difference.  Street trees along Memorial have also been planted.

The project is seen as linking to other area recent developments including the Wilson Street Farm, South Buffalo brownfield restoration efforts at the foot of Fillmore Avenue, Larkin District redevelopment, and the rooftop gardens at the Broadway Market.  Looking at the big picture, a “green zone” is taking shape in Buffalo, a sustainable corridor if you will. 

Total cost is expected to be $205,000.  Potential partners and supporters have been contacted and if funding is in place, work could start October 1st and be completed in mid-November.

“The Central Terminal location, taking a once perceived liability that was forgotten and neglected and turning it in to a tremendous asset with numerous benefits for the city, community, environment and the terminal itself,” says Majewski.  “This project can only help in bringing the Central Terminal to the forefront even further in this community and the city.”

Moreover, the area already has confirmed populations of deer, rabbit, turkey, pheasant, fox, gopher and numerous bird species including Peregrine falcons nesting on the Central Terminal itself.

Majewski is excited about what is planned and its potential for not only helping the environment but also helping the city deal with vacant land.

“This isn’t your typical feel-good, look-good, get-more-money type of community block club garden project,” says Majewski.

Get Connected: Dave Majewski, 716.432.2960; email

CUFF Vacant Lot Reclamation Project:


DSCF9074.JPGThumbnail image for DSCF9092.JPG


Buckwheat field at Wilson Street Farm:

Thumbnail image for DSCF9075.JPG


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Written by WCPerspective


Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

1880 posts
  • grad94

    good project. especially if surviving buildings aren’t sacrificed. they have a stronger chance of attracting new residents and/or investment if the farm proceeds.
    minor geographicsl quibble — central terminal is not in the ‘inner city,’ amtrak is in the ‘inner city.’ unless you are using ‘inner city’ as code for any low income, mostly black neighborhood.

  • sho’nuff

    This is a great project! I would like to see this become the standard practice for contiguous vacant lots throughout the city, especially those neighborhoods with 10 – 15 connecting lots in one area.
    This type of project may provide rationale for a more strategic approach towards demolishing vacant houses. The city could focus on demolishing and reclaiming entire neighborhoods instead of the haphazard approach towards demolitions that we have today.

  • Kevin from Buffalo

    If I put a “NO MOW regeneration Area” sign on my lawn, does that mean I don’t have to cut it ?
    No really, good project!

  • orlanmon

    Phenomenal; put the word out and I am sure volunteers in droves would help out with this project and others like it. My personal opinion is that many portions of downtown Buffalo need an esthetic overhaul and greenery and landscaping is one way to accomplish this. The four season greenery also should be adopted all over downtown as well to add some color and wind protection in the cold winter months; first place to start this is in the Inner Harbor.

  • orlanmon

    If Dave can post a contact email for volunteers to send their contact information that would be very helpful. TY

  • suburban_hillbilly

    I know they aren’t a native species but a few acres for a small herd of bison to roam would be very cool.

  • Buffalogni

    Great project! This should be done on every vacant lot in the city.

  • Crisa

    This is fantastic! It will be a staple for this entire city for years to come. And, it will also preserve the Buffalo Central Terminal’s present acres for the really rapid transit of the future.
    The really rapid transit of the future will require incredibly vast amounts of presently built-on land.
    Do the parents of those children in the bottom picture know their kids are featured at BRising?

  • JohnQBuffalo

    personally, Id rather see more focus on the Central Terminal restoration than on the grounds and I hope Central Terminal funds are not being redirected and used for this project.
    Not with the baggage and mail buildings still needing to be sealed and re-roofed
    Not with 10 floors of the tower still needing to have garbage removed, windows replaced, electricity restored
    Not with the restaurant and cocktail lounge, waiting concourse, lighting fixtures all needing attention/restoration.
    There is one thing that I applaud…and that is people have rediscovered that Fillmore connects the Central Terminal, Broadway, Humboldt (Kings) Park to the growing Larkin District. Its a smart step to leverage growth in the Fruit Belt Life Sciences and growth in the Larkin to benefit the Jefferson-Filmore Corridors.

  • WNY_Nick

    so what kind of plants are best for planting in an old gravel parking lot that for decades was doused in used motor oil to keep the dust down, and has now formed just enough of a dirt build up to support grass?
    and Grad94, the only real “surviving buildings” on the sight are the ones connected to the main building. and maybe the train concourse. The brick part of the train shed behind the REA building is already collapsing, as is the interlocking tower out past the old storage tank.

  • Chris

    These are the sort of things that can make a difference. Small, but right steps. We should really begin to work with other cities Detroit, Youngstown, etc to share ideas.
    I recently read that some artists in detroit have been creating art instillations in abandoned houses. Some as simple as painting an abandoned car yellow, or other abstract things. It was said that the houses need only have the appearance that someone cares enough to do this and the vandals don’t bother the houses. The weirder the art the more they stay away.
    Keep up the good work!

  • dave majewski

    Funds – when they begin to arrive – will be directed specifically for this project. Nothing is coming from any $ that the CTRC has already for any interior or operating costs.
    Also – it is important to know that this portion of the entire Central Terminal area is privately owned by the CTRC. They aare also a 501c3. Win-win.
    The entire property is divided somewhat in to three segments all partially owned: CTRC owns the main building, some acreage of green spaces, parking and the adjoining 5 story building. City of Buffalo owns seperate parcel that holds the old mail handling facility and the loading areas and some other structures….
    And the railroad – CSX? – owns a chunk of ROWs and the tracks…. Further details on this diverse ownership arrangement should be referred to the CTRC or to the City.
    As for some areas of this projects location that may be….. impure? – we invite these challenges and have always expected them. This will provide for the opportunity to demonstrate how they can be circumvented and used. Same goes for the heavily exposed location that will have to endure weather extremes unlike almost any other area in the city limits.
    There has been a community “picnic” recently that was used to show the residents the plan as well as other groups, offices, reps, leaders, and related local green industries.
    The funds sources that are being sought and approached are completely non governmental.

  • JohnQBuffalo

    you cannot bring back a house or a commercial building with weird art…it just doesnt happen that way…so I dont know what your applauding
    the effort would be better spent on simple preventative maintenance that anyone could do like cleaning out a gutter, sweeping debree, painting a wall a light color, mowing a lawn, fixing a sidewalk, washing a window, etc.
    I like art (well more classical and period art lets say pre-1960) but Im no so far off in lalala land that I would put art over practicality and prudence.

  • grad94

    wny nick, i was talking about the (mostly vacant) buildings seen in almost every photo posted above.
    johnqbuffalo, curtis street urban farm is a separate organization from central terminal restoration corp. curtiss not fixing the terminal and ctrc is not underwriting the farm.

  • WSUF

    This is a great project. My only problem with the article is with the last picture, which is of my children and dog playing in the buckwheat on the Wilson Street Urban Farm site. This is a fine example of what buckwheat looks like growing in a field, but it isn’t a CUFF lot.

  • dave majewski

    WCP – Janice or Mark are correct. That photo got mixed in. It was taken when we were checking out progress on thier farm and getting more seed, the very same day we were redoing the CUFF vacant lots near the Terminal and photographing them all. The CUFF Buckwheat lot is at the corner of Lombard and Peckham – different photo, and a smaller lot than the Stevens’. Sorry for the mixup – 🙁

  • DME

    Do any of you who think this is a great idea even live on the east side because I do. CUFF has a lot of big ideas and plans but has NEVER asked me or any of my neighbors if we would like them in our neighborhood. They have come in and left a HUGE pile of rotting compost in the middle of my neighborhood and have been cited by Erie County Department of Health because it contains horse manure that has not been sterilized. Their last compost piles where on the Central Train Terminal site, part of which is a SUPER FUND SITE! CUFF cannot take care of what they have now and you guys want to give them more of our neighborhood. QUIT USING MY NEIGHBORHOOD TO LINE YOUR POCKETS WITH GRANT MONEY FOR ALL YOUR OTHER PET PROJECTS!!!

  • Boy Skippy

    DME i am glad i am not the only one in the area that feels like outsider are coming into the area and telling us what to do. Let them work in the own areas were they live. There are already neighborhood groups that have ideas for this area but cant do anything because CUFF has left a bad impression on local neighbors and bussines. Before CUFF starts anymore so called projects let them finish what they have already stated. Also the new trees that were planted on Memorial Dr, what happened to the American Elms that were already planted there which was in conjunction with a Retree Buffalo tree planting

  • DME

    Boy Skippy the Beautiful American Elms that were planted there on CITY PROPERTY were torn up by a member of CUFF. CUFF also moved without permission from the city two of those big concrete planter boxes and created a traffic hazard by placing them on the corner of Peckham and Memorial. With the trees they put in there I can not see to make the turn off Peckham onto Memorial. Who do I get to sue when there is an accident?

  • Platt4

    Would love to hear your ideas for YOUR neighborhood and how CUFF is blocking your big plans! Sounds like someone has an ax to grind or just likes to throw arrows at those trying to make a difference in the city. Which is it?

  • WNY_Nick

    actually, CTRC’s Property is what can be seen here. This is direct from the City of Buffalo. NOTHING outside the little yellow line is CTRC
    this means that the current compost heap, the line of trees in the above drawing, and the lil “island” thats landscaped in the drawing are all “off property”

  • WNY_Nick

    DME, BCT is not a super fund site. Please check your facts before making such an outlandish claim

  • dave majewski

    DME and Boy Skippy.
    Would be glad to hear your comments and suggestions for your neighborhood. Please come out and see us directly the next time you notice us in the neighborhood – ask for Dave. Can always use the help as well! Thanks and we look forward to working with you to help make it a better community. We’re trying the best we can and always like to receive suggestions and assistance. Actually, I am heading there now with my crew of 6 to donate our time for the Day of Caring events in your neighborhood. Maybe we’ll see you there.
    PS – if you can at some point during each week, either you or perhaps someone in a block club…. please fill the gator bags on the new lilac trees. We are trying to keep up with those but cannot always get there consistantly. Thank you.
    Sorry – we must have missed you at the community picnic two weeks ago. We had some very good info to share and received much constructive feedback and suggestions from area residents and community leaders for further developments. And, if there is something you are working on to better the community, we are there to help.

  • Transplant that Left

    Central Terminal is a wonderful piece of Buffalo, that was let go like most of the rest of Buffalo. But Buffalo needs to be honest with it self, do you really think this project will ever come to fruition. Between the bloated gov’t and lack of follow through by most organizations don’t you think you are putting a lot of effort into something that might not ever be completed. I surely hope that funds from the central terminal restoration are not being used for this. They need to complete that first, and lets face it so why bother with planting…..TAKE THE FUNDS YOU HAVE TO PLAY WITH IT AND PUT IT TO SOME GOOD USE……MAYBE PAINTING OR TEARING DOWN SOME OF THE OLD HOMES IN BUFFALO….THAT ALWAYS SEEM TO BE SHOWN ON THE NATIONAL NEWS….and MAKE BUFFALO LOOK LIKE DETROIT……HONESTLY…..BUFFALO IS A SHRINKING CITY…..SPEND YOUR TIME AND MONEY SOMEHWERE USEFUL…..SO PEOPLE LIKE ME DON’T HAVE TO LEAVE TO FIND HAPPINESS.

  • city_girl

    Neighborhood residents came to believe that 59 Memorial where CUFF had an unapproved community garden recruiting neighborhood youth to work on the site last summer is because of this EPA site
    which lists 59 memorial as a superfund site. In addition, the City of Buffalo requested 17 million in federal stimulus money to clean up the site. This site is also the dumping site for the city snow crews and residents questioned whether the salt from city snow cleanups were toxic.
    Your comment as to get your facts straight is similar to the attitude that created the rift between residents and CUFF in the neighborhood.
    Residents have gotten together to have community gardens and neighborhood tree planting. They have given input to CUFF, especially in regards to the vacant lot cleanup–keep it clean and neat was what CUFF was asked and failed to do. They also sought from CUFF why the placement of an unapproved chicken coop and hen on a vacant lot, which finally was removed. The residents just don’t seek out the media to the degree as CUFF in regards to their planned projects.
    Members of CUFF have had a history of dismissing neighborhood residents as not educated and aware despite several residents in the proximity of the Central Terminal having advanced graduate degrees and chose to live in the neighborhood because of its unique history and legacy, which is why they chose to boycott the CUFF community picnic because so far CUFF has had difficulty understanding the meaning of community building and engagement.

  • dave majewski

    WNY_Nick is coorect. The Superfund site is located on a small segment of 59 memorial drive – which is a huge contiguous city owned parcel. The CTRC property is – not sure of the actual number, 285 Paderewski? – and NOT on the 59 Memorial. And, the $$ coming in for this project is NOT – repeat NOT – coming from any monies on hand that the CTRC has for any Terminal related improvements, events or operating expenses, etc… It is all coming from PRIVATE foundations and private donors and disconnected from any existing or planned CTRC funds.
    PS – this project has nothing to do with CUFF. CUFF will generously provide volunteers and other likely support for sure, but this is not a CUFF project.
    Hope this clears some things up.
    NOT 59 Memorial
    No $$ coming from the CTRC

  • biniszkiewicz

    having trouble saying goodbye?

  • dave majewski

    TOUCHE’ – !!!
    No matter what, we will ALWAYS encounter those that find some slight and tiny way to impose obstacles and hurdles to progressive thinking and development. I have learned that no matter what – NO MATTER WHAT – we do or attempt or propose, that there will always be those, that for whatever reasons, oppose it or criticize it or reject it. This negative thinking motivates those of us that are optimistic to persevere even more.

  • WNY_Nick

    CTRC / BCT is 495 Paderewski.
    59 Memorial, the old REA building, is a property that was in operation long before the terminal was built NEXT DOOR.
    The Railway express agency was also REQUIRED to transport anything that anyone wanted to transport. This means that all sorts of hazardous materials came and went via their freight cars. Im sure some of it spilled, but at the same time the EPA report doesnt seam to prove that either
    And anyone thats offended by me [seemingly] suggesting they get their facts straight, donno what to tell ya.

  • itsputscoffeeinitsthroat

    its about time!! its great to see creative minds using them to better our living environments and educate us all at the same time!! congrats to all involved and this project is well worth it. what better people to handle and carry this endaevor than those who are passionate and steadfast in believeing what they do is the right thing! i look forward to seeing this project through to fruition and i am all for it.

  • Gaiabuff

    Green Infrastructure (rain water capture/slow percolation, native species, soil stabilization, etc.) is the key to re-building Buffalo. If you can’t see that, sorry. Fresh Paint and clear site lines are nice to have, but they don’t attract residents. Look at the most expensive/affluent/up-and-coming neighborhoods in the city, and you’ll see the common thread is always vegetation. Green it up, and they will come. Adding natives, nitrogen fixes, filter strips, etc. is a great bonus!
    I understand the concept of “outsiders” coming into your neighborhood and making changes. It is a dicey proposition because you are at the mercy of the idea(l). It could harm your community, however, in this instance you are way out of line to criticize this project. This article describes an amazing project. It is hard to make out the good projects verse the negative ones in a city ripe with corruption and ignorance. In this case, DME, you need to be thanking Dave and his workers for taking their time and energy and putting it towards improving your neighborhood. Dave’s operation is way ahead of its time, and perhaps you need to learn more sustainability and urban growth.
    Plants are the future. Especially local production. Next national disaster you’ll be the first person picking those trees and bushes for food, or using the precious hardwoods for construction projects. The vegetation makes your neighborhood more sustainable today, and tomorrow. Urban farming keeps people alive, and removing industrial contaminants, through plants, keeps people healthy. Dave’s compost mix will help ensure your neighborhood prosperity by improving soil conditions. It is not a negative health issue because horse manure exists within, I know because I’ve spread manure mulch barehanded for years. Are you really complaining about improving your soil quality!!!!!
    Please stop throwing daggers at genius ideas.

  • dave majewski

    Thanks for all the positive comments – they have helped this project get closer to funding as well as build more support.
    DME – the trees removed on the corner of Peckham and memorial were Bur Oak – not Elm. Elm trees do not produce an ornamental flower. 3 were dead because they were neglected bare root plantings that perhaps I never had extra time to getting around to water – even though not in my neighborhood – another one was dmaged severly – and maybe there was one that was still salvageable. I replaced them with Syringa Reticulata – Japanese Tree Lilac – one of the most sustainable and resilient trees that could be used. We show up and water them weekly and fill the tree bags as needed. Oh, I coordinated this with the DPW Comm and the consulting city Forester – it was easily approved. They trust our judgement always. We stilol report to them what is boing done and we follow up so we can help keep the city records up to date regarding genus, species and locations.
    We have recieved scores of positive comments from people driving by, city officials, residents, business owners, pedestrians, etc… and they wonder why more is not being done. Wish I could, but we do all this out of pocket – just trying to make a positive difference is all we are doing. We are not trying to do anything negative – but it seems that at every opportunity that someone seems to find some way of labeling this as negative to the best of their ability. I wonder sometimes if I may have upset someone that I have never met…..?
    Just cleaning and greening and teaching is all it is about. Perfect? Never. Sincere and beneficial? Always.

  • dave majewski

    The plants that are in those planters are bamboo and miscanthus grass. There is NO WAY on earth that those are in the line of sight for turning traffic. Anyone can see that and this area is not congested like Allentown or the Elmwood Village – hardly. Those plants are thin and do NOT obstruct views of traffic when turning. If there is a concern – a LEGITIMATE one – it should be focused on the low hanging canopies of the areas elm and linden trees that obstruct views and NOT a couple of thin bamboo plants that help spruce up the neighborhood.
    The planters were pulled out from underneath a large overgrowth of weeds and scrub on Peckham adjacent to an empty building. They have been sitting there for many years. I suppose that someone in the area was getting ready to move these 500 lb behemoths manually and plant them with geraniums….??
    All we did – out of pocket – was take something that was going to waste and was forgotten and turned it in to an asset for Memorial Drive. Turning liabilities in to assets is called Sustainability.
    So much of this is ludicrous – and without merit – especially when the accusers do not reveal their names or associations for all to see. That says something.