Developer Rocco Termini is throwing his hat into the Convention Center ring. Two weeks ago, Termini proposed that the current Convention Center site be transitioned into a downtown parkscape (see here). Now, he says that he has identified the optimal location for the new Convention Center. Termini feels that the combined M&T Bank surface parking lots, located between Washington and Ellicott Streets, is the preferred location, for a number of reasons.
First of all, it’s a prime location, because conventioneers are looking for high density areas in the heart of a city’s downtown. This parking lot is close to a newly opened movie theater complex, restaurants, hotels, commerce, the Metro Rail (thus the waterfront), and plenty of historic buildings, including those along the Genesee Gateway. Chippewa Street is right there, and so is the Theater District. These are all wins for the site.
Another win is the opportunity for M&T Bank. The bank could hit a real home run for its hometown. M&T could give the land to the City, and the City could work out a deal to provide discounted parking for bank employees, similar to what they are offered currently. Plus, bank employees would be happy with the covered parking, and the enhanced retail along the ground floor of the ramp.
Termini says that the way to get this built would be to offer naming rights for the ramp (preferably to M&T). Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps (BCAR) would also provide funding as part of the City’s contribution. The City could finance part of the project through bonds.
Since the ramp would be centrally located, it would be busy every day of the week, including days when there is no convention at the site.
Termini feels that this new site for the Convention Center, along with the new downtown public park, would reinvigorate the entire city. His belief is that the most obvious location has been sitting right under our noses the entire time. According to Termini, this is the real no brainer, because it incorporates all of the assets that we are looking for. It gets rid of a massive surface parking lot, while adding a wonderful greenscape to downtown. It also provides an opportunity to build something breathtaking – the renderings shown here were created by Ben Siegel (BMS Design Studio) and Termini merely to demonstrate proper massing/scale for the site/buildings.
Sometimes we need to take a step back, and make sure that we have thought things through, says Termini. This site would be a real boon for the city, and would be a catalyst for a number of other projects. The City has been looking for ways to draw people back to Main Street. Chippewa has done some growing up, and could benefit greatly from a project of this nature. This surface lot in question was once an important hub for downtown Buffalo when it housed a public market. Today it is prime, once again, to become something truly productive and inspirational.