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Central Terminal group partners with Urban Land Institute to seek ideas for landmark

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With hopes of reopening a cherished East Side landmark as a train station now put to rest, the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation is turning to a real estate and land use firm to study and recommend future possibilities for the terminal property.

The Urban Land Institute has been retained to conduct a comprehensive review of the Central Terminal property and complete it by June 30th.

"What we can do on our own is the day-to-day upkeep through grants and donations and fundraising but the longer-term vision has always been something we've been very cognizant of," said John Jiloty, a member of the board of directors for the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation. "This will really help drive our strategy and our thought process in terms of where we go with that longer-term plan."

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.

"It's best to get the most professional advice possible," said Buffalo Common Councilmember David Franczyk, who represents the neighborhood in which the Central Terminal is located. "The developers will be there, I believe, and I think they have to move forward along those lines. I'm very optimistic about it."

Late last week, the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation announce it will not renew a designated developer agreement with Harry Stinson, who held rights to redevelop the property since last year. That agreement expires on May 24.

Supporters of the Central Terminal had high hopes it would be reopened as a train station but last month the panel assembled by Mayor Byron Brown recommended a future Amtrak station be located downtown.

Franczyk says the train station campaign galvanized the neighborhood, which still expects something to be done with the property.

"They are demanding this is the next big project in a neighborhood that needs to be tackled," Franczyk said. "They're not going to build a wall around us like people talk about building walls. 

"We're not going to be neglected, that's for sure."

The Central Terminal and Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood have gained the attention in recent months of numerous lawmakers who share Franczyk's opinion that the district should be next in line for significant economic development. Many, including but not limited to Congressman Brian Higgins, State Senator Tim Kennedy, State Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant, campaigned on behalf of the Central Terminal as a desired choice for a future train station.

Kennedy issued this written statement on Friday: "The historic and iconic Buffalo Central Terminal has the potential to anchor the rebirth of the Broadway-Fillmore District, and yet it has sat largely vacant since 1979. For years, I’ve firmly believed that its stabilization and reuse would be transformative, not only for the structure itself, but for the surrounding East Side neighborhood that has been this project’s biggest champion.

"I’m interested in learning more about the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation’s long-term vision, and the timeline they have set to accomplish those goals. It is clear that the community demands action, and I stand ready to offer my assistance in any way possible. This site is too important to leave behind."

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