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Another Voice: Richardson rehabilitation is a community success

By René Jones

The grand reopening of the Richardson Olmsted Complex was the culmination of years of hard work, substantial investment and visionary leadership. Even more, it symbolized our city’s great capacity to achieve great things. And that’s exactly what Buffalo displayed with this project.

Among the string of victories our city has celebrated in recent years, the rehabilitation and reopening of the Richardson Olmsted Complex is surely one of our community’s proudest achievements.

The late Stan Lipsey, the former publisher of The Buffalo News, envisioned this historic redevelopment, and he had the drive to make it happen. He generated communitywide support, and this project became something we all could believe in and pursue together.

With his backing of this project and his relentless work to promote the city’s distinctive assets, it is fitting his memory will live on with the Lipsey Architecture Center at Richardson Olmsted.

The coalition of supporters he helped build included his longtime friend, my boss and M&T Bank Chairman and CEO Bob Wilmers. Our team at M&T is honored to have played a part in such a transformative project that was so close to Stan’s heart.

It truly was a community effort. Stan’s vision was brought to fruition through the leadership and commitment of hardworking Western New Yorkers like Howard Zemsky, Paul Hojnacki, Monica Pellegrino-Faix, their boards, teams, volunteers and business partners – and, of course, the thousands of individuals throughout the region who rallied behind this historic redevelopment.
And with vision and hard work must come investment!

The Richardson revitalization was made possible by a somewhat complicated yet hugely significant public-private partnership led by $76.5 million in funding from New York State. M&T Bank complemented the state’s investment with the financing of $16 million in historic tax credits, and we were proud to join the ranks of donors.

From our perspective, it was both an honor and our duty as community bankers to serve as a lender and to help leverage the historic tax credits to advance this project.

As one of the year’s most important developments, the successful completion of the Richardson Complex will be another positive step toward attracting new investment in the city and its surrounding communities.

This preservation project carries vast potential, and as work continues, its economic impact will only grow.

Major milestones like this are a reason to celebrate. Yet still, we cannot rest. To fully realize the potential of this project, our community must continue its collective efforts to grow our economy and bolster regional tourism.

Let’s capitalize on our success with Richardson. Let’s stick together in the work that lies ahead. And let’s keep promoting all that makes Buffalo great. I think that’s how we can fulfill Lipsey’s vision for this community.

René Jones is vice chairman of M&T Bank.

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