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Wanted: Developer for Central Terminal

The Central Terminal Restoration Corporation (CTRC) is seeking one or more developers to take on all or a portion of the Central Terminal complex. Since 1997, CTRC has organized numerous cleaning, fund raising, and public awareness events which have helped to revive the community’s passion for the Terminal. It is now turning to the private sector to do the heavy lifting of bringing permanent uses to the historic complex.

BCT RFPConstruction of the Terminal commenced on March 29, 1926, and included the construction of the terminal building and 15-story tower, passenger concourse and platforms, baggage and mail building, power plant, two signal towers and two utility buildings. A grand opening was held on June 22, 1929, following completion of the $15 million structure.

The Art Deco masterpiece was built to handle over 200 trains and 10,000 passengers daily, as well as 1,500 New York Central employees. It included shops, a restaurant, soda fountain, parking garage and all other services required for daily passenger operations. Although the Terminal had the misfortune to open mere months before the onset of the Great Depression, the building was extremely busy during its first two decades of operation, with no period busier than during World War II.

Following the War, passenger rail travel fell precipitously as automobiles and air travel began to dominate. With the decline of passenger rail service, the New York Central Railroad mothballed much of the sprawling Terminal complex, and created a small station within a station to service the remaining passengers. The final passenger train departed the Terminal in October 1979.

From 1979 – 1997, the Terminal was held in private ownership. During the 1980’s and early 1990’s, the complex was held by a number of owners who were unable to find viable uses for the site. During this period, many of the building’s Art Deco treasures and valuable materials were removed and sold. By the early 1990’s, the complex was in foreclosure and the structures were left to the wrath of vandals and nature.

Picture 333bIn 1997, 12.54 acres of the original site were acquired by the non-profit Central Terminal Restoration Corp. for the nominal sum of $1 and the assumption of back taxes. With new development happening throughout the city, the CTRC Board has decided the time is right to bring in private sector investment.

CTRC intends for the main concourse of the Terminal to remain as public space, with supplementary and complimentary uses occupying the remainder of the complex. Future redevelopment of the Terminal will reflect the historical use of the site, while also incorporating elements relevant to the modern day and future demands of the surrounding neighborhood, city, and region.

The entire Central Terminal complex, as currently owned by the CTRC, includes approximately 523,000 sq.ft. of space. This space is easily dissected into smaller and more manageable redevelopment components. Ideally, a single developer will be responsible for all of these components. However, CTRC recognizes that each redevelopment component provides a unique challenge and encourages slightly different uses.

A developer submitting a proposal may select one or several of these redevelopment components, although preference will be given to a developer taking on all of these redevelopment components at once.

Each redevelopment component of the Terminal can be easily segregated from the other sections, yet retain its connection to the whole. This creates the benefit of being able to separately redevelop smaller independent and individually viable redevelopment components.

ct concourse

Main Concourse
The main concourse provides approximately 213,500 sq.ft. of space, and includes several segregated components within it, such as a waiting room (approximately 6,300 sq.ft.), restaurant (approximately 8,400 sq.ft.), and several kiosks of various sizes. CTRC has utilized the main concourse for various events, from Dyngus Day and Oktoberfest, to art shows and conferences. It is the intent of CTRC to keep approximately 19,000 sq.ft. of space of the main concourse open and accessible to the public, and maintain its ability to reintegrate the Terminal complex with public transportation.

Baggage Building
The five-story Baggage Building is located adjacent to Curtiss Street on the southwesterly portion of the property, and contains approximately 105,000 sq.ft. The structure can easily be adapted to accommodate residential units, office or administrative support space, educational facilities, small business, light industrial operations and/or business incubator facilities. This building also features loading docks along Curtiss Street and a breezeway along the adjacent railroad tracks.

The four-story mezzanine is located adjacent to the northwesterly side of the main concourse and tower, and the upper three floors provide approximately 54,500 sq. ft. of space. Mezzanine floor plates are open, with minimal dividing walls, such walls typically defining circulation or concealing restrooms or mechanical facilities.

Preliminary conversations with State Historic Preservation officials indicates these primary organizing elements should likely be retained if pursuing benefits of historic preservation tax credits, while secondary dividing walls may be removable. The mezzanine can easily be adapted to office or administrative support space, educational facilities, commercial use, residential use, or work/live units.


The sixteen-story tower provides truly unique and unparalleled 360 degree views of the city and surrounding areas, including Lake Erie. Tower floors five through sixteen provide approximately 70,000 sq.ft. of space. This portion of the Terminal complex can easily be rehabilitated for office or educational use, small business, or residential use (either work/live units, medium-style loft size apartments, or large penthouse suites).

Underground Parking
The main concourse sits directly on top of an underground parking facility containing approximately 84,200 sq.ft. of space which can accommodate up to 450 vehicles. This parking space has direct elevator access to the main concourse, mezzanine and tower.

The goal is for the entire Terminal complex to be redeveloped for multiple uses in concert, and such uses may potentially include both residential and commercial components. While the blending of various programmatic functions will create a unified hub attracting and serving an expanding customer base, the exact mix and size of programmatic elements will be determined through appropriate planning and market studies. All proposed redevelopment projects are expected to integrate with the entire Terminal complex, relate to the surrounding neighborhood and community, and address the public realm.

Letter of interest are due March 20th with full proposals by May 1.

Interested parties are encouraged to contact CTRC Board Member Paul R. Lang.

Written by WCPerspective


Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

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