Urban Land Institute Concludes Week-Long Reuse Analysis of Buffalo's Central Terminal

ULI presents scenarios to the public that establishes a vision for the building and the neighborhood

June 30, 2017

See photos here

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) Advisory Panel today presented a summary of its conclusions and recommendations after a week-long analysis of potential reuses of the former Buffalo Central Terminal. 

“We greatly appreciate the tremendous amount of time, energy and knowledge that the Urban Land Institute’s distinguished professionals and staff dedicated to this analysis,” said Empire State Development CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky. “Now that the study is complete, we look forward to the Central Terminal leadership team developing a plan for this iconic complex that best suits the City of Buffalo and Buffalonians.”

“The insights and recommendations of the ULI team give us a realistic path to follow, to ensure that both the Central Terminal and the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood are well- positioned for a bright future. I look forward to sitting down with the Empire State Development team and the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation board to thoroughly review the panel’s recommendations, and plan our next steps,” said Mayor Byron Brown.

The ULI Panelists—composed of eight experts from across the nation, all highly-qualified professionals in design, real estate and government—volunteered their time this week, staying in Buffalo to study the property and its context.  After a reception with community stakeholders on Monday, they interviewed 94 key public and private officials and community leaders on Tuesday togain their unique insights into the complex and the surrounding neighborhood.  The ULI Panelists spent the remainder of the week developing their conclusions.

“The Central Terminal is a great asset to the community. All efforts to enhance the Central Terminal and the surrounding neighborhood need to be aligned and coordinated in order to achieve the best outcome," said Michael Stern ULI panel chairman. “The future is bright if we create market value in the Terminal by providing activities and opportunities that appeal to a diverse clientele.”

The panel’s key recommendations included: 

  • The fate of the Central Terminal is directly linked to the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood. The Terminal has stood as a prominent symbol of blight on the East Side for too long; it needs to become a beacon of light.
  • The neighborhood is the front door to the Central Terminal and the Terminal is the icon, and can be an anchor of the neighborhood. Planning and development must be conducted in tandem to their mutual benefit.
  • There currently is little-to-no market value in the Terminal-we need to Create Value in order to establish a market.
  • Creating a year-round, regional event venue using the diversity of spaces on the Main Concourse of the Terminal is the best way to do that.
  • This venue needs to appeal to a diverse, multi-ethnic clientele that includes residents of the neighborhood in the entrepreneurial activities and opportunities.
  • The Central Terminal Restoration Corp. has been an excellent custodian of the facility and is the right entity to carry its mission forward, but it now must broaden its focus into promotion, management and active planning for the future. It should partner with the City, State and others to engage in a neighborhood planning effort.

View full report here

“The Central Terminal Restoration Corporation as an organization is incredibly grateful for the ULI panel’s insightful analysis and recommendations,” said CTRC vice chairman Paul Lang. “We take pride in the recognition of our membership’s efforts and are encouraged by the suggestions of a diverse sustainable future for the historic complex. We’ll collectively review the materials and immediately begin working on taking the next steps in conjunction with our partners, the City of Buffalo and Empire State Development among others. We are looking forward to working with the community to chart the course for the landmark’s future and are simply excited to get started.”

“I would like to thank the members from the Urban Land Institute who volunteered their time, energy and expertise towards moving the Broadway-Fillmore community and the Central Terminal forward,” stated Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes. “The information provided lays out a blueprint to incrementally build project momentum, community support and ultimately results. I look forward to being a continued supporter and stakeholder in the years to come. None of this would have been possible without the financial support from the City of Buffalo and Empire State Development in conjunction with the commendable preservation efforts of the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation.”

Empire State Development in corporation with the City of Buffalo and with the ULI Foundation sponsored the effort.  Similar efforts by ULI have been successfully conducted across the country, and locally including the Rainbow Centre Mall in Niagara Falls and the former Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital and the former Buffalo Psychiatric Center (now known as the Richardson-Olmsted Complex) in Buffalo.

About Urban Land Institute

The Urban Land Institute is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the institute has more than 40,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines. For more information, please visit uli.org 

About Central Terminal

Opened in 1929 to serve more than 200 trains and 10,000 passengers daily, the iconic Buffalo Central Terminal operated for 50 years, until the Art Deco masterpiece officially closed as a train station in 1979. In 1997, the 18-acre Buffalo Central Terminal site was acquired by the non-profit Central Terminal Restoration Corporation (CTRC). Efforts are ongoing to refurbish and repurpose the property on Buffalo’s East Side and possibly even to revive it as the city’s active train station. To help fund restoration, the CTRC currently hosts 30+ public events a year in this beloved building.


Pamm Lent (Governor’s Office) | [email protected]  | (716) 846-8309

Michael DeGeorge (Mayor Brown’s Office) | [email protected] | (716) 341-9522