BUFFALO, N.Y. - A national panel will arrive in Buffalo this Sunday in preparation for a week-long analysis of the Central Terminal site, which could help determine the future of the historic East Side landmark.
As a part of a $135,000 study, a dozen experts with the Urban Land Institute will study the physical layout of the Central Terminal, learn the history of the train station and interview more than 100 local officials from both the public and private sector. The study, which is funded by a partnership between the city, state and the ULI's own foundation, will also study how a Central Terminal restoration would be paid for.
Mayor Byron Brown announced that the research will begin first thing Monday morning. After studying the location throughout the week, the panel will issue a recommendation on Friday.
A similar study was conducted for several historic sites in Buffalo, including One Seneca Tower and the Richardson Olmsted Complex.
"This is going to be expensive -- the full renovation of this facility -- so we have to look at all planning, architectural and funding issues," Brown said.
The Urban Land Institute's study follows a decision by the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation to cut ties with Canadian developer Harry Stinson, who had proposed a $100 million redevelopment project. Stinson, however, told 2 On Your Side over the phone today that he will remain involved in the ULI study and is eager to see the results.
Paul Lang, the vice president of the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation, confirmed during Tuesday's news conference that Stinson has not been ruled out as a potential developer.
"We've continued our conversations with the Stinson Development Team. They will be participating in the Urban Land Institute study as a part of the interview process. As far as moving forward, we have to see that comes out of the ULI study... the likely scenario is some type of RFP process," Lang said, "and certainly all comers will be welcome to respond at that time."
The ULI study is also significant because a committee led by the mayor himself decided to pass over the Central Terminal as the new location for Buffalo's Amtrak station. That decision angered even some Democratic allies, who argued a new train station could help bring this neighborhood to life.
Mayor Brown defended his committee's decision on Tuesday to recommend a downtown train station, and he noted that the Central Terminal can be redeveloped in a different way.
"We have to operate based on facts and good information. I think that with the other process there was a lot of misinformation that was put out there," Brown said. "This will be an opportunity on a local level, with national experts coming in from all across the country, to put out good information, factual information."