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Canadian developer unveils $200 million Central Terminal plan

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

For years, the knock on doing something about the Central Terminal was that fixing it up would take a lot of money. Now, an Ontario-based developer is willing to spend $100 million on redeveloping the terminal -- and another $100 million to  build a residential complex on a mostly-vacant parcel next door.

The Buffalo Common Council on Tuesday gave designated developer status to Harry Stinson, a developer from Hamilton, Ontario. He will maintain that status for six months and will report on where the project stands at the end of that period.

Stinson is planning a 400-unit residential complex at 59 Memorial Drive, a mostly-vacant site that was once part of the Central Terminal complex. He says it can be developed quickly because nothing was built there when the New York Central Railroad built the terminal.

"We see it as a multi-use complex, primarily an event center and hotel in the main concourse, offices in the baggage building, offices in the tower. The residential component will be primarily on the 59 Memorial component. We see this as the castle, like the Disney castle. It's the center of the village and everything else will be low-rise around it," Stinson said Tuesday.

Stinson says the complex, which he's calling Terminal City, could open in two years, but it has to be built all at once to make the project work. A massive rehab of the terminal tower for mixed use would follow.

"The village itself is a $100 million project. The concourse is equivalent, but the development, the residential component, a mixed use, is the easy part. It's a conventional development, a subdivision. It will have architectural character of an older village but it's really new construction," Stinson said.

Council Member David Franczyk says now that the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation has saved the building, it's time for it to have a future.

"We want the East Side to enjoy the fruits of Buffalo's revitalization, just like downtown and the waterfront," said Franczyk. "Now it's time. It's ready."

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.
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