This is a rebuilding year in Buffalo, and we’re not talking sports teams. The Bills are rebuilding and, Lord knows, the Sabres desperately need it, but Buffalo, the city, is literally in a construction year that will start paying off in 2016 and continue through at least 2020. Years from now, you will be able to bore your grandchildren with stories about how you were around when …
That rebuilding is what this year’s Prospectus supplement in The Buffalo News celebrates. It’s out on Sunday and, among other things, looks at the projects under way today that will lift the region in years to come. Those developments include:
• Construction of the Solar City plant along a curve in the Buffalo River. In the most promising of the developments under way, work crews are drilling more than 5,500 pilings to support the foundation of the aptly named RiverBend project. Structural steel is to start going up next month and plans are to enclose the giant building by September. The plant should start producing solar panels next year and be up to full capacity by 2017, putting Buffalo at the forefront of a powerful new industry.
• A few miles to the north, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is growing like a culture in a petri dish. Work on the bottom six floors of the Conventus medical office building is expected to be completed by June, when UBMD, a doctors group affiliated with the University at Buffalo, is scheduled to move in. Nearby, work on the first six floors of Roswell Park’s new Clinical Sciences Center is to be completed by March.
The John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital is under construction. The foundation was being poured last month and a tower crane should appear in spring. Opening is planned for 2017.
Construction of UB’s new Medical School is about to begin with exterior work on the building to start late this year. The building is expected to open to students in 2017.
• In downtown Buffalo, IBM has already moved 10 employees into temporary space while the Buffalo Information Technologies Innovation and Commercialization Hub is under construction. Fifty employees are expected by mid-year, with the target of 500 employees, including IBM’s partners, suppliers and contractors, scheduled for 2020.
• At Canalside, already a roaring success, work this year begins on a three- or four-building development that could include restaurant, retail, office and residential space, as well as the Explore & More Children’s Museum, which is moving from East Aurora. The museum is to open in 2016.
• Across Scott Street at HarborCenter, the $172 million hockey and hotel project of Terry and Kim Pegula is to be completed with the spring opening of the Buffalo HarborCenter Marriott.
And there is still more: the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing Competitiveness; the arrival in Buffalo of the winners of the 43North business competition; the construction of the new Delaware North headquarters; development along the reconstructed Ohio Street; continued progress at the Richardson Towers project; and a new ferry linking Buffalo’s Inner Harbor with the Outer Harbor, where planning for a new park is under way.
Today, Buffalo is once again on the forefront of the new economy and, in the case of RiverBend, it’s not just on the cutting edge, but at the tip of the cutting edge. It’s a new day in Buffalo and, for those who insist that government is nothing more than a burden to Americans and especially to New Yorkers, it is worth noting that the lion’s share of the credit goes to government leaders. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion is feeding the technological development, while Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, wrested funding from the New York Power Authority to produce the seed money that has created Canalside. They, and a few other federal and local political leaders, deserve the thanks of all who live here and have stuck by Buffalo.
It’s a great day here in Western New York and one that is leading to still greater ones coming up.