DL&W Terminal could be a destination under new NFTA plan

Article written by James Fink 12/14/16

Turning the DL&W Terminal into a transportation destination for Canalside and the Cobblestone District may be closer than many realize.

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority hopes to secure federal funding for an environmental review of the historic South Park Avenue and within the next year, it could be turned into a development-ready site.

That’s the upshot from a key NFTA executive.

Tom George, NFTA, public transit director, said during a briefing with Buffalo Place Inc. officials that the authority has made the DL&W Terminal redevelopment one of its top development priorities.

“We got a large asset, with a lot of square footage,” George said. “It’s time to leverage what’s happening in Canalside and the Cobblestone district.”

The drive to use the 99-year-old DL&W Terminal, tucked behind KeyBank Center, is not a new one. Over the years, the NFTA has attempted to find private sector interest in using portions of the building, especially its largely vacant second floor.

In recent months, Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, has been pushing the NFTA to address the terminal issue.

This spring, the authority decided on a $43 million redevelopment plan that will see a Metro Rail stop be incorporated into the building’s first floor, with the stop overlooking the Buffalo River and Riverwalk. Retail kiosks would be placed on the second floor with a pair of elevated bridges over South Park Avenue connecting the terminal with KeyBank Center.

“We’d love to create a new front door,” George said.

The plan would require little interior renovation work.

Besides the Metro Rail station and retail offerings, the NFTA is considering building docks and slips on the terminal’s waterside.

“This is true opportunity for a public and private partnership,” George said.

George said some private-sector development interests have approached the NFTA about possible projects on the second floor.

The terminal’s second floor has 80,000-square-feet of enclosed space and another 60,000-square-foot patio facing east towards Michigan Avenue.

The key, George said, is to secure the $500,000 needed to underwrite the environmental impact study. Federal agencies are being approached for the funds.

George hopes to have the money secured and study underway by this spring, a move that would make any redevelopment plans ready to be enacted by late 2017.

“We are trying to get the highest and best use out of the facility,” George said.

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