Three years after officials launched efforts to create a Main Street gateway to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus -- via an extension of Allen Street -- the first physical step has been taken.
The medical campus corporation has acquired four properties in the 900 block of Washington Street, one block east of the current Allen Street terminus, as part of the future gateway.
Medical Campus Executive Director Matthew Enstice said while plans have yet to be finalized for the street extension, the Washington Street parcels are "well situated" for the long-planned connection.
"The whole concept of the project is to better connect the medical campus to the neighborhood, and these properties are well situated to be part of that physical link," Enstice said.
The proposed "grand entrance" to the medical campus from Main Street is aimed at better intergrating the growing campus, with its 8,000 employees, into the surrounding neighborhood and triggering development for both.
The project, which is being coordinated by the City of Buffalo, would see Allen Street, which currently dead ends at Main Street, continue east through the medical campus to Ellicott Street.
The properties acquired by the medical campus, 927-945 Washington St. -- running along the east side of Washington Street, from Carlton Street, north toward High Street -- are directly aligned with what would be an extended Allen Street.
"The owners of the properties approached us and it was a great opportunity to secure the land for the project," Enstice said.
The campus purchased the properties, which include a vacant lot at Washington and Carlton streets, along with three former brick residences which have been converted to medical offices, for $500,000.
The buildings were owned by Drs. Reginald B. Sutton and Charles L. Anderson. The vacant lot at the corner was once the site of the Washington Prescription Center.
First proposed in February 2003, the project has so far attracted $100,000 in federal funds for an initial feasibility study, plus another $6 million to take it into final design and initial construction phases. A key part of the project is replacement of the ground-level portion of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority's Allen-Hospital Metro Rail station.
While the underground tracks and platforms will not be affected by the street extension, a new above-ground station will need to be designed and built.
"We're really excited about the possibilities for the new station as a mixed-use building, a building that will be great for us and the community," said NFTA Executive Director Lawrence Meckler. "I'd expect this is something we'll make decisions on in the next year as the planning process moves forward."
Enstice said he expects no construction to take place for at least 12 to 24 months.