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$10M Hispanic Heritage Cultural Institute goes before city committee today

Hispanic Heritage Council of Western New York Inc.

Buffalo is going to get another museum and cultural center, this time covering the community's history with the changing Latino community.

The Hispanic Heritage Council is going before the Common Council Economic Development Committee Tuesday on its designated developer agreement for five lots near Niagara and Hudson streets, to go with lots the council already owns.

It is a complicated process involving meeting a series of benchmarks to eventually become the owner and developer of the property. Heritage Council President Casimiro Rodriguez said it is important for both his community and the overall community to have the facility planned for the site.

"The important thing about having a facility, an institution like the Hispanic Heritage Cultural Institute, is that it's a location," he said. "It'll be a place, a welcoming place that will be able to preserve our history and would also have a theater, to be able to partner with area theater companies, like Raices Theater Company."

Rodriguez said the complex will also be able to show the changing Latino community locally, with more and more people from other countries to go with the long-dominant Puerto Rican community. He said the community now represents 22 countries.

"You have counties all over the world that their native languages is Spanish and they make their way here to the U.S., from Puerto Rico, from a lot of locations," Rodriguez said. "But one of the unique things about our organization, the Hispanic Heritage Council, we've been able to preserve, we've been able to document the history or Hispanics, Latinos here in Western New York."

The council will have a year to put together a plan and work out a deal with the city to buy the property. That has to include an actual design for the building and the landscaping for approval by the city. Rodriguez said the facility will cost around $10 million and there will be a fund drive.

"We understand that we have to launch a capital campaign to raise $10 million," he said. "That's an investment and that's what we hope to appeal to the state, city, county, federal government and to the private public sector."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.