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Day One: ULI Study Gets Underway

Buffalo’s Central Terminal has been big in the news this year, looming metaphorically over the train station site selection the way the building looms physically over the Buffalo skyline. For nearly 90 years, Buffalonians all over their fair city have glanced up to find the Central Terminal gazing at them, like the eye atop the pyramid on the one-dollar bill, sometimes in the most unexpected places.

For example, along the axis of Goodell Street, the East Side landmark’s gaze crosses the Main Street barrier and looks into the West Side. Saturday, while hiking along the Buffalo River, I climbed an embankment and got that uncanny feeling that I was being watched. Indeed, there was the Central Terminal.


It’s perfectly situated to keep an eye on all rail activity on the former New York Central mainline heading west toward New York City, and on the former Nickel Plate mainline heading southeast by south toward Chicago. And most unsubtly, Central Terminal sees all and knows all that happens on the two streets, once the same street, that it was built athwart: Paderewski Drive to the west and Lovejoy Street to the east.

Like a jazz-age Sting, everywhere you go in Buffalo, every move you make, every step you take, the Central Terminal will be watching you.

But this week the tables are turned, and all eyes will be on the Central Terminal. And not in a casual way. With an expert ULI team of planners, architects, and developers in town, the Terminal complex and grounds will be examined in detail, bottom to top, inside out, and maybe even sideways. This may be the most thorough and definitive ground-up planing the Central Terminal has gotten since before construction began.

For more on the ULI team, and its leader, Michael Stern, see here.

On Sunday, members of the ULI team, a few local, but most from out of town, began arriving in Buffalo. A couple of them took a midday scheduled tour at the Central Terminal, led by volunteers from the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation. Reportedly, they were wide-eyed at what they saw, as are all first-time (and most repeat) visitors.

One member of the team, on his first day in town, discovered one of Buffalo’s other great assets: beef on weck.

Then, Sunday evening, team members gathered for a dinner at the Dnipro Center on Genesee Street. The two dozen or so attendees were greeted by Mayor Byron Brown. Reports indicate the team hit it off well, which bodes well for an intensive week of planning ahead.

Monday morning their formal work will get an early start with an 8:30AM kickoff meeting at the Central Terminal. One suspects the team will be consuming coffee by the gallon this week.

For nearly 90 years, Buffalo Central Terminal has been keeping an eye on Buffalo. This week, Buffalo needs to turn a focused gaze on the Terminal, to plan its next 90 years with a clear-eyed vision.

Let the planning commence. And keep an eye on Buffalo Rising.

Written by RaChaCha


RaChaCha is a Garbage Plate™ kid making his way in a Chicken Wing world. Since 2008, he's put over a hundred articles on here, and he asked us to be sure to thank you for reading. So, thank you for reading. You may also have seen his freelance byline in Artvoice, where he writes under the name his daddy gave him [Ed: Send me a check, and I might reveal what that is]. When he's not writing, RaChaCha is an urban planner, a rehabber of houses, and a community builder. He co-founded the Buffalo Mass Mob, and would love to see you at the next one. He represents Buffalo Young Preservationists on the Trico roundtable. If you try to demolish a historic building, he might have something to say about that. He is a proud AmeriCorps alum.

Things you may not know about RaChaCha (unless you read this before): "Ra Cha Cha" is a nickname of his hometown. (Didn't you know that? Do you live under a rock?) He's a political junkie (he once worked for the president of the Monroe County Legislature), but we don't really let him write about politics on here. He helped create a major greenway in the Genesee Valley, and worked on early planning for the Canalway Trail. He hopes you enjoy biking and hiking on those because that's what he put in all that work for. He was a ringleader of the legendary "Chill the Fill" campaign to save Rochester's old downtown subway tunnel. In fact, he comes from a long line of troublemakers. An ancestor fought at Bunker Hill, and a relative led the Bear Flag Revolt in California. We advise you to remember this before messing with him in the comments. He worked on planning the Rochester ARTWalk, and thinks Buffalo should have one of those, too (write your congressman).

You can also find RaChaCha (all too often, we frequently nag him) on the Twitters at @HeyRaChaCha. Which is what some people here yell when they see him on the street. You know who you are.

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