State awards $5M to Central Terminal for repairs, staff

Local News

State leaders have answered the local call to fund millions of dollars in needed upkeep and staff for the crumbling Central Terminal.

Empire State Development said Friday it will provide $5 million for repairs and restoration of the east side landmark. Money will also be used to fund multiple positions, including an executive director to oversee the work and day-to-day operations.

In late January, Sen. Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) urged the state ESD and its CEO Howard Zemsky to invest $5 million from the Buffalo Billion II to weatherize and stabilize the old train station.

ESD funded an Urban Land Institute study last year to analyze reuse possibilities. Common Council Member David Franczyk said in January it called for a private-public partnership to redevelop the site, which will have to be done incrementally over a period of years.

Buffalo Common Councilman David Franczyk has said there is a strong desire for the Central Terminal to act as a catalyst for the entire Broadway-Fillmore, East Side area, in addition to helping the city.

The Central Terminal, located in the Broadway-Fillmore District, opened in 1929 and operated for 50 years before closing as a train station in 1979. The 18-acre site was acquired by the Central Terminal Restoration Corp. in 1997.

The station hosts many public events each year and contains a small rail museum. In 2017, the station secured a $250,000 grant for electrical upgrades through NYS Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes.

The CTRC parted ways last year with former designated developer Harry Stinson’s JSK International. The agreement expired in May 2017.

The Central Terminal was considered one of the potential locations for the city’s new train station, but the train station selection committee voted in April 2017 to instead build the station downtown.

CTRC Vice Chairman Paul Lang said he believes Hollywood played a major role in the state’s  investment decision, as filming of the movie “Marshall” opened a lot of eyes to the Central Terminal.

“They were here for a couple months, so we were regularly seeing directors, and politicians–that were coming through the building tied to the ‘Marshal’ filming–that allowed them to see the potential.”

Because of years of neglect and deterioration after the Central Terminal’s closing, city officials were considering demolition of the building as late as 1994.

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