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Buffalo Central Terminal master plan said to guide future reuse

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Tue, Sep 29th 2020 05:40 pm

A master plan for the Buffalo Central Terminal site and its connectivity to the Broadway Fillmore Neighborhood has started and the first of four public meetings will be held Thursday, Oct. 8.

A press release said, “Future investment for the adaptive reuse of the Buffalo Central Terminal site will be strengthened by this plan that will create a clear road map to guide near and long-term decision-making regarding future redevelopment, as well as ensure the building and its future uses are better incorporated in the community. Broad community involvement and focused Broadway Fillmore neighborhood participation will identify ways to maximize development and envision a strong future for the Central Terminal that reflects community values and is fully embraced by the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood.”

The planning overview, public meeting information and interactive activities are available at www.buffaloterminalplan.org.

The plan will build on the Urban Land Institute recommendations to start reuse of the Buffalo Central Terminal by creating a year-round, regional venue using the diversity of spaces on the main concourse. The plan will identify measures for potential physical, visual, organizational and/or institutional connections between the Central Terminal’s features/uses and the nearby Broadway Fillmore business district, the Broadway Market and other neighborhood institutions to help shape broader revitalization efforts and attract private investment and visitors to the area.

Though vacant since its last train departed in 1979, the iconic Art Deco structure – and the 20-acre-plus site – remain prominent features of Buffalo’s East Side and the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood. By creating and advancing the plan for redevelopment, the Central Terminal Restoration Corp. (CTRC) will harness a collective positivity for the future.

“Many people have worked for many years to save the terminal,” said Paul Lang, chair of the 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.”

A Community Involved Process

The press release noted, “The future of the Buffalo Central Terminal and the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood are interdependent, and neighborhood residents and stakeholders will be an important foundation of the plan’s development.

“The plan provides an opportunity for residents and stakeholders to inform the adaptive reuse of the iconic Buffalo Central Terminal in a way that values community input and is beneficial and reflects the values of the surrounding Broadway Fillmore neighborhood. Core to this process is a community advisory council. The CAC membership includes Broadway Fillmore resident leaders, business owners and organizations.”

“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, 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 engagement sequence will be broken into four phases to align with the overall project phasing. Through fun, collaborative design activities, the engagement process will capture the stories, culture and vision of neighborhood residents and stakeholders. Each of these engagement phases will be designed to be heavily collaborative between the community, stakeholders, the CTRC and the SmithGroup Team.

Consultant Team Selection

Following a review process and input from a team comprised of the CTRC, Empire State Development and neighborhood residents, SmithGroup was selected to lead the process with the CTRC, along with national and local team members Barbara Campagna Architecture + Planning, Watts Architecture & Engineering, Mustard Seed Consulting Group, Trophy Point and James Lima Planning and Development.

The SmithGroup team provides a unique combination of national design expertise, capital development planning, historic preservation and adaptive reuse, neighborhood engagement and planning, and technical research and innovation.

In response to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, the CTRC and SmithGroup team will explore new ways of reaching residents for input.

“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.”

Project Scope & Timeline

The master plan includes three main components that will be integrated throughout the planning process to yield meaningful and impactful outcomes. These include 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, and a development and financing structure to establish a framework to solicit and evaluate developer proposals. The integration of these three components will be forged through inclusive community engagement focused on improved quality of life and the long-term viability of the Central Terminal and the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood, together. Activities associated with this engagement will be coordinated with other nearby community participation efforts, such as those associated with revitalizing the Broadway Market.

The planning work will occur simultaneously with ongoing efforts to invest $5 million in New York Buffalo Billion funding for capital improvements to help create a more year-round, regional event venue in a portion of the terminal. Construction will start in late 2020 with the $2 million replacement of the flat roofs, gutters of the barrel roof and related masonry structural repairs. This will be followed by the renovation of the 8,000-square-foot former restaurant space to make it weather-tight and tenant-ready for full fit out.

Project Partners & Funding

The plan is being funded by a $400,000 grant through phase two of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion, which is focused on ensuring all Western New Yorkers have an improved quality of life, and have a role to play in the new Buffalo. As part of this strategy, $65 million in state funding is dedicated to the revitalization of Buffalo’s East Side through transformational capital investments along four commercial corridors (Michigan, Jefferson, Fillmore and Bailey avenues).

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.

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