Posts Tagged ‘Buffalo Central Terminal’

Ghost Hunter Injured at Buffalo Terminal

August 3, 2021

A New York woman hunting for ghosts in the former Buffalo Central Terminal was treated for injuries at a hospital after she fell through a roof.

Police said the 35-year-old woman was injured Saturday night during a ghost-hunting expedition after she fell 15 to 20 feet through a substation roof near the back of the station.

Neither she nor a male companion, who was not injured, had permission to be on the property. Police said no charges have been filed.

The station, which has last used for rail passenger service in 1979, has a reputation among ghost hunters and once was the subjects of a six-hour live broadcast by the Ghost Hunters TV series.

The station’s non-profit owners have periodically held ghost tours of the station.

Buffalo Terminal Restoration Getting Started

November 14, 2018

Developers have outlined their restoration plans for Buffalo Central Terminal, which will benefit from a $5 million state grant.

The 89-year-old art deco facility hasn’t served passengers since the late 1970s and last housed railroad offices in the 1980s

The abandoned 17-story structure long has been a symbol of urban decay, but now the future is starting to look bright even if officials caution that restoration is expected to cost $100 million.

Plans include making a portion of the depot into a museum that will expand and preserve the station’s legacy.

Mark Lewandowski, director for Central Terminal Restoration Corporation, said most of the grant money will be spent on new glass and lights for the main concourse.

Some funding will also be allocated to restoring the former Gateway Restaurant.

Most of the old glass in the concourse has been victimized by neglect and vandalism.

The arch windows at each end of the concourse include several four-foot square sections of 4-inch thick glass used as walkways between the windows.

Workers are also recreating the light fixtures in an effort to return the concourse to its 1929 appearance.

Much of the rest of the terminal is in poor condition. The only work it has received has included cleaning and weather proofing.

NY Congressman Still Pushing to Make Buffalo Central Terminal an Amtrak Station

April 17, 2018

A New York Congressman is not giving up his efforts to convert the vacant Buffalo Central Terminal into an Amtrak station.

Brian Higgins is continuing to push Amtrak to use the former New York Central depot despite the fact that the New York Department of Transportation plans to build a new Buffalo depot at the site of the current Exchange Street station.

That $25 million project is slated to get underway this fall.

“Almost 90 percent of respondents to the site selection committee . . . preferred the Central Terminal. So this is not a decision that’s widely supported by the public to site a new Amtrak station in downtown Buffalo,” Higgins said.

Higgins planned to attend an information open house being hosted by NYDOT to prod it into reconsidering Central Terminal.

“Keep in mind, that the downtown location for a brand new Amtrak station, you cannot access 65 percent of America,” he said.

Amtrak would continue to serve a station it built in suburban Depew, New York. The Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited would continue to stop at Depew along with Empire Service trains and the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf.

The Lake Shore Limited is not expected to use the new Buffalo station because that would require a long back-up move.

Aside from its historic character, Higgins said renovating Central Terminal would enable Amtrak to close Depew station.

“There’s tremendous benefits with historic tax credits. A developer could save 30 percent or more of the entire project cost,” Higgins said. “With a tenant in there like Amtrak, the Central Terminal becomes that much more attractive for a private developer that wants to do mixed-use development including retail.”

Buffalo Station Makes Endangered List

October 19, 2017

Buffalo’s Central Terminal has made a list of dubious distinction. It has been added to the 2018 World Monuments Watch, a group of international cultural heritage sites facing “daunting threats.”

The former New York Central depot that was used by Amtrak between 1975 and 1979 and for a time in 1971, is No. 22 on the list.

Closed in 1979, the station has undergone some renovation in recent years. However, it was bypassed when Amtrak recently sought a site for a new Buffalo station.

Amtrak has two stations in the  Buffalo region. These include a small and antiquated station at Exchange Street in the city and a station in suburban Depew.

Buffalo Committee Favors Downtown Station Site

April 24, 2017

The committee studying sites for a new Amtrak station in Buffalo, New York, has recommended building the station downtown rather than renovating the abandoned Buffalo Central Terminal.

The exact site will be chosen by the New York Department of Transportation, although it is expected to be along Exchange Street.

The new station is expected to cost at least $35 million, of which the state is contributing $25 million.

Currently, Buffalo is served by two stations, one at Exchange Street and the other in suburban Depew.

Exchange Street serves all trains passing through Buffalo except the Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited.

Eleven of the 17 members of the station site committee favored a downtown location while four voted against downtown. One member abstained.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz voted against the downtown recommendation because he opposed the “arbitrary timeline” given the committee to make a decision this month.

“Not all the issues were taken into account,” Poloncarz said. “The process was flawed but not rigged. And, no, this is not the death knell for the [Buffalo] Central Terminal.”

But Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown defended the timeline. “The governor clearly wants it to be a fast-track process, and I think the same kind of time constraints we had as a committee will be placed on the Department of Transportation,” said Brown, who voted for a downtown location.

A downtown location had been favored by WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, an engineering consulting firm hired by the state.

Howard Zemsky, a Buffalo businessman and head of Empire State Development, the state’s development arm, voted for downtown.

“This is really a transportation decision first and foremost, and from that standpoint downtown is a clear winner,” he said.

Zemsky said it was not a case of either or in terms of development of the long-dormant Central Terminal.

The Amtrak representative on the committee favored a downtown location. CSX, which owns the tracks in the vicinity of Central Terminal, said it doesn’t want passenger trains at Central Terminal because that might interfere with a nearby freight yard.

Intercity bus companies also favor a downtown site because they fear that clearance issues could prevent them from serving Central Terminal.

Also working against Central Terminal was the estimated $68 million to $149 million cost of renovating the structure. A downtown location is estimated to cost between $33 million and $86 million.

The Buffalo congressman who had championed Central Terminal was disappointed at the committee’s decision.

“This is a generational opportunity lost, said Brian Higgins said. “Obviously, the Central Terminal was not going to win out in an apples-to-apples cost comparison. It’s the vision you have for the property, and what you do with the opportunity.”

Higgins said the downtown location will preclude passengers being able to board there if they are bound for Cleveland or Chicago.

He noted that Amtrak opposes having the Lake Shore Limited backing up for more than a mile to serve downtown Buffalo.

Higgins vowed to work to funnel state and federal funding toward development of Central Terminal.

State Sen. Tim Kennedy supported the Central Terminal and believes that although it lost out in the vote to become an Amtrak station there remains hope that the iconic structure will have a new life.

“There has been more attention paid to the Central Terminal than probably in the last 50 years,” Kennedy said. “I think this is going to be at the end of the day a win-win because of the renewed focus on transforming the Central Terminal into a historic building we can all be proud of once again.”

In the meantime, Canadian developer Harry Stinson said he is close to closing on a deal to acquire the 523,000-square-foot Central Terminal, which includes a 17-story tower, concourse building, baggage building and ample underground and street-level parking.

“We’re days away from the final version of the agreement,” Stinson said. “It will have to go through a process, but the agreement is essentially done. There is nothing we see as collectively insurmountable.”

Stinson said he wants to develop the tower into office space, use the concourse for entertainment, dining and special events and transform the baggage building into a hotel.

Eventually, he will develop new housing at the site, which is now considered a brownfield.

The War of Words Continues in Site Selection Process for New Amtrak Station in Buffalo

March 31, 2017

A decision on a site for a new Amtrak station in Buffalo, New York, is not expected until late April, but it appears that a site in the Canalside neighborhood has been ruled out.

The Canalside site was not included in the list of sites that were studied by a consulting firm.

Some city officials say that Canalside was dropped from active consideration because inter-city buses could not be adequately accommodated there.

In the meantime, a New York congressman who has strongly supported renovating the former Central Terminal has attacked the consultant’s report for what he termed grossly inflated costs for that site.

Rep. Brian Higgins took issue with findings that returning passenger rail service to Central Terminal would cost between $68 million to $149 million, depending on the level of service provided and whether the facility would also serve local and inter-city buses.

Higgins said the costs could be cut by $6 million by giving up unnecessary improvements to the terminal concourse. Another $1.4 million could be saved by eliminating some elevators.

Higgins contends that renovating Central Terminal could be eligible for nearly $11.8 million in tax credits under state and federal programs for the renovation of historic properties.

Saying some members of the 17-member station selection committee don’t like the neighborhood around Central Terminal, Higgins accused them of trying to price Central Terminal out of contention.

At least one station site selection committee member has expressed doubt that Central Terminal is an appropriate site for a modern, intermodal transportation center.

Some committee members, who would not agreed to be named, believe Higgins is trying to hijack the station selection process.

Eugene Berardi Jr., president of Adirondack Trailways, said it would be difficult for buses to serve Central Terminal because of the low underpasses on the streets near the station.

He also said bus passengers want to be dropped off downtown to access Metro Rail and other public transportation.

Supporters of a downtown location say that an intermodal facility would be eligible for Federal Transit Administration funds as well as Federal Railroad Administration funding.

The consultant’s report lists three possible downtown sites for the new station:

  •  The site of the existing Amtrak station on Exchange Street
  •  A site just west of the existing station, nearer to Washington Street
  •  A site at Washington Street just south of the I-190

Support for Central Terminal has come from another source. Twenty-five architects have signed  a letter backing the Central Terminal as the site for a new Buffalo train station.

“This is about a lot more than where to put a train platform,” said Robert Stark, president of the American Institute of Architects, New York State, and a partner with CJS Architects in Larkinville, New York.

Event Promotes Buffalo Central Terminal

December 12, 2016

The campaign to convert Buffalo Central Terminal into an Amtrak continued on Saturday with an open house and Christmas tree lighting led by Congressman Brian Higgins of Buffalo.

Amtrak 4He hosted 500 people on a tour of the terminal, which last hosted Amtrak in 1979.

“I think this is a beautiful structure,” he said. “At one time 200 passenger trains came into Buffalo every single day. And the new train station in Buffalo should be right here.”

The station was built in 1929 by the New York Central.

Higgins said there’s $25 million in federal funds available for a new station and matching funds from the state may be available.

The funding will not be available until 2018 by which time local officials hope to have decided on a station site.

The committee that will select the station location is scheduled to hold a public hearing Thursday in the Common Council chamber at City Hall.

Buffalo Central Union Terminal Redevelopment Financing Tied to Building Adjacent New Housing

May 31, 2016

The iconic Buffalo Central Terminal will be developed by a Toronto developer who also plans to construct housing in the neighborhood surrounding the long-closed train station.

Central Terminal is owned by Central Terminal Restoration Corporation and its rehabilitation will be financed by the sale of 400 to 500 new townhouses.

Developer Harry Stinson earlier won approval of the Buffalo Common Council to develop a master plan to transform the railroad depot into a mixed used facility that would include a hotel and banquet facilities.

Stinson will spend the next six months meeting with pubic officials, preservationists and neighborhood stakeholders to refine the station’s master plan.

He must buy the land for the townhomes from the city and pay it $1,000 a month during the length of the six-month agreement, which can be extended by six months.

Stinson said he expects to invest up to $100 million on the Central Terminal building.

He expects to sell the townhouses for $200,000 to $300,000 apiece and target them toward employees of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

He told the city that townhouses will help to create neighborhood that will have the feel of a village.

Some business that would cater to that neighborhood could be located within the station building.

Central Terminal opened in 1929 and closed in 1979. It once served 200 trains and 10,000 passengers a day.

A non-profit group acquired the station in 1997 with the idea of restoring it.

It has since repaired the four clocks on the office tower and reopened the main concourse in 2003.

Buffalo Central Terminal to Host Train Show

August 28, 2015

The long dormant Buffalo Central Terminal will host a train show in September with the proceeds being used to fund stabilization and restoration of the depot.

The 2015 Central Terminal Toy Train and Railroadiana Expo will be held Sept. 12-13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission is $5 for adults. Children under 12 will be admitted for free.

“This is more than just a train show,” says Central Terminal Restoration Corp.’s Mark Lewandowski. “It’s one of Buffalo’s largest celebrations of trains and railroading history. Visitors to the Terminal can expect to see everything from highly detailed scale models to family heirloom Christmas trains and archival photos of area railroads.”

The Central Terminal Restoration Corp. was founded in 1997 to oversee the stabilization and restoration of the structure. The Terminal complex includes an 18-acre site that hosts an art deco office tower, passenger concourse and four-story baggage building.

For more information, go to www.buffalocentralterminal.org.