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Landlocked Buffalo State looks to expand footprint

SUNY Buffalo State is looking to expand onto a 7-acre site now home to the city's Auto Impound.

Mayor Byron W. Brown and Katherine Conway-Turner, Buffalo State's president, said Thursday the college will lease the property for 18 months as the site's designated developer. The mayor had announced the arrangement in his State of the City address in February, saying it was time after over 20 years to relocate the impound at 166-170 Dart St.

"For some time, my administration has been planning to relocate the city's Auto Impound facility, and the site's location, adjacent to Buffalo State College, feels like a perfect fit for the educational facility that needs more space to fulfill its long-term mission," the mayor said.

"This is the right time to move forward," he said.

Brown said his administration and the college have discussed this idea for years.

The city also released a request for proposals on Thursday seeking a new location for the Auto Impound operations.

"The "scrapyard into a schoolyard" idea is one Conway-Turner said is full of potential for the college.

"We are an urban-engaged campus, and because of that we are quite landlocked," Conway-Turner said. "There are not many opportunities we have to really think about expanding our footprint.

"So this will be a wonderful opportunity for us to think carefully about our mission and how we can expand some of our facility needs and the needs of our campus."

Conway-Turner said the college is at the beginning of its planning process.

"There is not a short list at this point," Conway-Turner said. "We are just beginning our process of really thinking through this wonderful opportunity we have."

Conway-Turner said it was unlikely that the land would be used for student housing.

She also said there will be an attempt to get public feedback.

Buffalo State College will pay the city $1,000 a month to lease the property. The city intends to sell the land at its appraised value, but the appraisal has not yet been done.

Brendan Mehaffy, who heads the Office of Strategic Planning, said re-imagining the site fit in with recent residential projects, college investments and the Albright-Knox expansion occurring within the vicinity of the Auto Impound site.

The site is also expected to need a brownfield cleanup, Mehaffy said, though exactly how much is not yet known.

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