New Study launched for reuse of Central Terminal

Empire State Development and the City of Buffalo on Tuesday announced the Central Terminal Restoration Corp. (CTRC) will welcome the Urban Land Institute (ULI) advisory panel to conduct a weeklong analysis of potential reuses of the Central Terminal starting Monday, June 26. The comprehensive review of future options for the iconic property at 495 Paderewski St., and related parcels, will be complete by June 30.

The analysis is being supported with funding from ESD, the City of Buffalo and ULI Foundation.

“By bringing in the renowned Urban Land Institute to study the Central Terminal, it will give us the information and analysis necessary to ensure the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood is well-positioned for future economic development,” said ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky. “The completed study will provide a road map for our robust planning process as the Central Terminal leadership team works to move forward to repurpose this immense complex so it ultimately fits the needs of the City of Buffalo and its residents.”

“The Urban Land Institute is recognized as one of the world’s most respected sources of objective information on urban planning, growth and development, so to get its recommendations for the Central Terminal will help bring confidence and direction for future decisions regarding the iconic property,” City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said. “Having ULI in town will help us tremendously to understand how best to adapt and reuse this one-of-a-kind property to build off the city’s existing momentum. I thank Gov. Cuomo and ESD for their commitment to this project.”

“The Central Terminal Restoration Corp. is thankful to the City of Buffalo, specifically Mayor Brown and the strategic planning office, as well as the state of New York and Empire State Development, for providing our organization the opportunity and technical support to participate in the Urban Land Institute study,” said Paul Lang, vice chairman, Central Terminal Restoration Corp. “We, along with our community supporters and stakeholders, are excited to play a role in this process and are looking forward to charting the course for the restoration of the historic Central Terminal.”

Twelve ULI panel members – experts from across the nation, all qualified professionals in design, real estate and government – will volunteer a week of their time to analyze the Central Terminal property. The panel will conduct a detailed tour of the site, as well as consult with public and private officials and representatives from other relevant organizations and other individuals familiar with the challenges involved. The conclusions and recommendations will be presented to the CTRC at the close of the onsite assignment.

ULI leader Michael Stern, principal at MAS Places in Jackson, Wyoming, is the chairman of the advisory panel that will be visiting Buffalo. “We’re excited to bring ULI’s expertise to Buffalo,” Stern said. “We are aiming to demonstrate how the revitalization of this historic site can contribute to the area’s overall economic prosperity, livability, investment appeal and competitiveness.”

Besides Stern, other members of the Central Terminal ULI study team include:

  • Dan Anderton, community planner and landscape architect at Dewberry in Germantown, Maryland
  • Ross Tilghman, president, Tilghman Group, Seattle
  • Keith Bawolek, managing principal and chief executive officer, Vermillion Realty Advisors, Chicago
  • Jennifer Ball, vice president, planning and economic development, Central Atlanta Progress, Atlanta
  • Betsy del Monte, principal, Transform Global, Dallas
  • Malaika Abernathy Scriven, Walter Reed project manager, deputy mayor for planning and economic development, Washington, D.C.

During the week, the panelists will tour the complex site and surrounding area, and spend two days meeting and interviewing more than 100 stakeholders from the public and private sector. After carefully analyzing the site and completing the interviews, the panelists will then frame their recommendations and draft a presentation that will be made to the public at the conclusion of the visit.

The scope of the study will include the following:

  • From a market and neighborhood revitalization perspectives, what would be the most appropriate and/or desirable mix of uses at the complex and estimated square footages/acreages?
  • Given the scale and complexity of the complex, what is a logical sequence of next steps for Central Terminal?
  • What would be the menu of options for financing?
  • Given that transportation has played a critical role in the history of the complex, can future bus/rail public transit or
  • passenger/freight rail programming serve as a useful tool in a redevelopment scheme?
  • What would be the best means and methods of ensuring historic integrity is preserved in perpetuity?
  • What types of residential uses might be a reasonable component of an adaptive reuse strategy?

The Urban Land Institute has studied numerous Buffalo properties, including the Richardson Olmsted Complex, One Seneca Tower and former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital campus. Founded in 1936, ULI is composed of more than 40,000 members, representing the entire spectrum of the land use and development disciplines, including architects, planners, real estate brokers, builders, attorneys and engineers. It has long been recognized as one of the world’s most respected and most reliable sources of objective information on urban planning, growth and real estate development. As part of its mission, the institute maintains an advisory services department for the purpose of benefiting the general public through improved planning and utilization of urban land.

Now in its 70th year, the ULI advisory services program assembles experts in the fields of real estate and land use planning to participate on panels worldwide, offering recommendations for complex planning and development projects, programs and policies. Panels have developed more than 650 studies for a broad range of land uses, ranging from waterfront properties to inner-city retail.

Thomas Eitler, senior vice president of ULI’s advisory services program, said the strength of the program lies in ULI’s unique ability to draw on the substantial knowledge of its 40,000-plus members, including land developers, engineers, public officials, academics, lenders, architects, planners and urban designers. “The independent views of the panelists bring a fresh perspective to the land use challenge,” Eitler said. “The advisory services program is about offering creative, innovative approaches to community building.”

In response to this news, Congressman Brian Higgins released the following statement: “Buffalo’s Central Terminal is a central piece of the city’s skyline, but its grand presence as an iconic historic landmark is only outdone by the presence it holds in the hearts and minds of the people in this community.

Last October we initiated a determined effort to refocus on the Central Terminal and the greater Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood. What stood out most throughout the last several months is the genuine affection for the Central Terminal felt by residents across Western New York and beyond.

The Urban Land Institute is an experienced and respected nonprofit organization that has a track record of involvement in transformative projects, including rehabilitation of the Richardson Olmsted Complex, which underwent a $102.5 million rehabilitation that included more than $76 million in New York state funding and an additional $16 million in historic tax credits.

We welcome this process and I look forward to advocating for the future of the Central Terminal in the Urban Land Institute panel interviews next week. The time is now to refocus on the Central Terminal.”

The Urban Land Institute is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the institute has more than 40,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines. For more information, visit uli.org.

Opened in 1929 to serve more than 200 trains and 10,000 passengers daily, the iconic Buffalo Central Terminal operated for 50 years, until the Art Deco masterpiece officially closed as a train station in 1979. In 1997, the 18-acre Buffalo Central Terminal site was acquired by the nonprofit Central Terminal Restoration Corp. Efforts are ongoing to refurbish and re-purpose the property on Buffalo’s East Side and possibly even to revive it as the city’s active train station. To help fund restoration, the CTRC currently hosts 30-plus public events a year in this building.

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