There’s big news on The Buffalo Central Terminal front. A new Master Plan (the “Plan”) is underway, that will actually see a start in late 2020.
It sounds as if the long wait is (mostly) over, as the Plan is being funded by a $400,000 grant through Phase II of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion.
The Plan will include:
- $2 million replacement of the flat roofs, gutters of the barrel roof and related masonry structural repairs
- The renovation of the 8,000 square foot former restaurant space to make it weather-tight and tenant-ready for full fit out
I’m not saying that there’s not a lot more work to be done, but much like the build-out of the Richardson-Olmsted Campus, it sounds like a great start. And like the Richardson-Olmsted Campus that saw Hotel Henry as the anchor tenant that drove so much of the project, if the Central Terminal can land an anchor restaurant, there will be cause to celebrate.
Nobody even thought that The Richardson-Olmsted Complex would evolve as quickly as it has. It might have taken many long years to get to the starting line, but once it got there, things started to fall into place at a nice clip.
“Many people have worked for many years to save the Terminal,” said Paul Lang, Chair of the Central Terminal Restoration Corp (CTRC). “This plan will be an opportunity to knit community hopes, values, concerns and opinions into the future reuse of the Buffalo Central Terminal in the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood.”
The Plan also looks at the much larger picture – the scope – of how The Central Terminal fits into the Broadway Fillmore Neighborhood, including the business district and the Broadway Market. The Central Terminal and the neighborhood must play off one another, work alongside each other, and boost and re-energize together, for the greater good of the district.
The last train departed the Terminal in 1979.
“I’m excited to be part of this group. I have lived in this neighborhood for 40 years, and I see all of the different cultures we have here,” said Marva Threat, Community Advisory Council (CAC) Co-Chair, President of the Greater Eastside Field of Dreams Block Club Association and long-time resident leader in the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood. “I think this could be something that finally brings all of our voices together with our neighbors.”
The adaptive reuse of the building will be based on recommendations from the Urban Land Institute, which drafted a report of its findings back in 2018. Of utmost importance is to create a regional destination that is a year round draw for all of Buffalo to enjoy. That means that the Main Concourse will also be addressed, to figure out ways to activate it. COVID-19 has demonstrated that Buffalo needs to place a higher importance on safe and inviting outdoor areas. This particular campus is deemed 20+ acres of untapped opportunities.
The planning work will occur simultaneously with ongoing efforts to invest $5 million in New York State Buffalo Billion funding for capital improvements to help create a more year-round, regional event venue in a portion of the Terminal.
An in-depth review process led the CTRC, Empire State Development (ESD), and neighborhood residents to identify SmithGroup as the lead orchestrator for the process. SmithGroup will be joined by national and local team members Barbara Campagna Architecture + Planning, Watts Architecture & Engineering, Mustard Seed Consulting Group, Trophy Point, and James Lima Planning and Development.
COVID-19 also presents its fair share of challenges pertaining to how to successfully address the community engagement process.
“We will be looking for ways to reach people where they are,” said Kenneth Kokroko, a planner and landscape architect with SmithGroup. “This is a new situation for all of us, and with input from the Community Advisory Council, we will be testing out options for online and mail outreach so we can make sure everyone knows what is going on and is able to contribute.”
The Master Plan includes three main components:
- A guide to redevelopment and reuse of the Central Terminal
- A plan to strengthen connections between the Central Terminal and the neighborhood and its existing assets in a manner that reflects the neighborhood values
- A development and financing structure to establish a framework to solicit and evaluate developer proposals
The first of four public meetings will be held on Thursday, October 8. The planning overview, public meeting information and interactive activities are available at www.buffaloterminalplan.org. collaborative between the community, stakeholders, the CTRC and the SmithGroup Team.
The Buffalo Central Terminal is part of the East Side Avenues program and funded through the East Side Collaborative Fund, which is administered by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.