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Another Voice: Central Terminal is ready for redevelopment

By Sean Ryan

The Central Terminal sits vacant and stands as a constant reminder of Buffalo’s sad legacy of neglecting our historic treasures. Thankfully, there is renewed interest in this key part of Buffalo’s past thanks to the process unfolding to choose a location for a new train station.

My hope is that the Central Terminal is the choice. However, even if it is not, we must move forward with restoring this iconic East Side landmark.

For far too long the Central Terminal has been a symbol of decay on Buffalo’s East Side and the entire city. It rises up as a towering embodiment of neglect and disinvestment.

We need to embark on a concentrated effort to restore the Central Terminal, so that it can be an important part of the New Buffalo and our economic comeback.

I represent Buffalo’s West Side, where for decades the Richardson Olmsted Campus sat vacant, and blighted the surrounding neighborhood. It sent a message that the neighborhood wasn’t worth investing in.

Almost two decades ago, enterprising philanthropists and preservationists stepped forward with the dream of redeveloping this architectural icon. They convinced New York State to make a significant investment into this behemoth structure, and years later this investment is paying dividends. The same holds true for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House in Buffalo’s Parkside neighborhood.

New York State invested $64 million into the Richardson Olmsted campus, and nearly $45 million, split between public and private funding, has been invested into the Martin House. The areas surrounding these historic treasures are attracting further investment.

I want to see the same thing for the Central Terminal and its East Side neighborhood. The Richardson Olmsted Campus and Martin House restorations show us a model that works. We should have a dedicated nonprofit to do redevelopment of the Central Terminal, bolstered by substantial state and private investment.

We know that the $25 million attached to the new train station will not be enough to finance full adaptive reuse of the terminal. This would be an investment into the New Buffalo.

Thanks to unprecedented investment from New York State, Buffalo is back on the map. Unfortunately this economic resurgence is having a difficult time taking hold within all of our neighborhoods. A new Central Terminal will be an economic powerhouse for East Side neighborhoods and our entire city.

We came together as a community before to breathe new life into our historic structures, and we can do it again. We have a new round of funding in place for the Buffalo Billion. Let’s put some of it into action by stabilizing and rehabilitating the Central Terminal.

We know adaptive reuse works. This is a multiyear effort. The sooner we start, the sooner the Central Terminal can be our next great success.

Assemblyman Sean M. Ryan, D-Buffalo, represents the 149th Assembly District.

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