BUFFALO, N.Y. — A study commissioned by Erie County on the future of the Buffalo Convention Center has determined that building a new facility on Delaware Avenue, next to Statler City would be the best option if the county wants to stay in the convention business.
The site would be on Delaware Avenue and border Franklin, West Mohawk and West Huron streets.
Also considered was a site near the KeyBank Center.
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said, “The Phase II study provided a deep dive into the feasibility of construction at the potential sites and the costs associated with each as well as their strengths and shortcomings. The information revealed through the study gave a much clearer picture and provided much greater perspective of not only what would be needed to construct a new Convention Center but how that new building would affect and be incorporated into the cityscape. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so it needs to be done right.”
Officials say the Delaware site would provide the greatest value for the least cost. Building the new site would allow the reopening of Genesee Street to Pearl Street, which is blocked by the current Convention Center.
The Delaware location is near existing hotels, restaurants and other businesses.
“The Delaware site is the option that presents the best return on investment and offers the most exciting, transformative vision for Buffalo. It offers the proper amounts of space needed for the many functions of a modern Convention Center, it is in close proximity to existing hotels and restaurants, and it is right next door to the historic Statler Hotel, which will now attract more attention and investment as it returns to its former glory. This is a visionary plan that will transform the city and the county," said Poloncarz.
The study estimated preliminary costs for the Delaware site at $441 million. The price tag includes site acquisition fees, demolition of the current Convention Center and constructing a new 3-story Convention Center, a new parking ramp on the current Convention Center Site and moving the Hotchkiss House to a new location nearby.
According to Poloncarz, the project would take a significant investment by the state of New York, and thus far, there is no money committed.
As well, no formal negotiations have been held to buy current property owners out to make way for the new convention center.
"There will be no acquisition of the property unless we have sufficient funds to move ahead with the project," he said.
If funding can be secured, officials hope to start construction in about three years. A consultant who helped the county select a preferred site and gauge the costs of building a new convention center says it would take another 3 years to complete the project once it has started.
"This is the priority project of this administration," Poloncarz said.
You can view the study on Erie County's website. A public comment meeting will be scheduled March 14.