The Buffalo Central Terminal: Now

Ten years after I first fell in love with the Buffalo Central Terminal, I am still just as, if not more, passionate about its preservation and restoration. I had the opportunity to visit the Terminal this past Sunday, taking pictures (as seen throughout this post) and learning all there is to know about the history, architecture, functionality, and future plans of this historic site. In fact, I was originally saving my Buffalo Central Terminal article for a later date, but felt so motivated after that tour, that I had to do it now.

Aside from tours, The Buffalo Central Terminal is also open for certain public events, including the 97 Rock Halloween Party I attended last year (packed wall-to-wall, live music, costume contests= tons of fun) and for Dyngus Day festivities (don’t know what that is? shame on you). In addition to these events, the current owners of the building, Central Terminal Restoration Corporation, Inc. (CTRC), have devised a master plan for the preservation and restoration of the Central Terminal. They have already begun, and continue to stabilize the building, which was discovered to have solid foundations conducive to restorations.

But before I get into their plan, I thought I would share what I came up with at the ripe age of 12. Obviously, there was no concept of a budget for my project, so don’t mind if my plan sounds outrageously expensive or unfeasible…

I planned for the tower to be a luxurious hotel, easily accessible to those who were travelling to and from their destinations, which brings up the next part of my plan. The terminal would be restored back to its original functionality as a gateway between the East Coast and Midwest. While I knew that this would certainly not hold the capacity of traffic that trains once brought, I decided that the rest of the complex would be turned into a shopping center for local businesses, looking to get their start. This would be an ideal location for these businesses as trains would bring in a consistent flow of customers. The concourse would also be restored to its original functionality – restaurant and small shops included. Sound like an expensive plan? Yes. But it was certainly an idea I am still proud to call my own, even if I did come up with it at the age of 12 with a limitless budget.

Now back to the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation, and their much more feasible and realistic, master plan. Essentially, the CTRC has broken down their redevelopment plan into four zones: the tower, concourse, baggage building, and transportation areas – all currently owned by the organization. A “green business incubator facility” is planned for the baggage building. A “business incubator” is ultimately a program that brings in starter-companies and supports their launch efforts. Essentially, the CTRC is hoping to bring in “green” businesses to this program, and surround the restored baggage-building-turned-office-space with nature and greenery.

Entrance to Baggage Building from main concourse

The concourse zone is currently in progress of being restored back to its original functionality, maintaining its open, collaborative concept as the central focus of the terminal itself. Plans to restore the restaurant are also underway, as well as those for a terminal museum, kiosk shops, and art displays to make up the rest of the concourse initiative.

Concourse, as seen from the 2nd floor balcony

Unfortunately CTRC did not include my plan for the tower into theirs, and instead will be renovating it into apartments, lofts, and penthouses, as opposed to a hotel (honestly, a great idea – as I’ve heard that the view from the top floors is amazing – a 360 view of the city, waterfront, and into the suburbs). These living spaces will have direct elevator access to the parking garage located underneath the terminal. I’d be interested in seeing these living spaces upon completion, and would be curious to know their going rate and desirability in the Buffalo market.

Original clock from the Buffalo Central Terminal

The final zone is the transportation hub, which will be designed to incorporate more than just trains. Yes, there are plans for the rails and cars to be used as inter-city transportation, making it easier to access public transportation and connect every corner of the city. In addition to the rails, the CTRC is hoping to establish this zone as a central location for “vehicular public transportation,” such as taxi and bus stops. Of course, the ever-present desire for a high-speed rail system, much like the ones in Europe, is a hot topic for the US, especially in the Northeast. If this system were to ever come to fruition in the future, the Buffalo Central Terminal would be an ideal location to host the influx of revitalized rail traffic.

Making all of these restorations possible will take a lot of time, money, and resources. But hey, according to a 12 year old with a dream, anything is possible.

Click here to learn about the history of the Buffalo Central Terminal.

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2 responses to “The Buffalo Central Terminal: Now

  1. I just took this tour last weekend and it was awesome! I hope they can restore and open the tower for next year, as I would love to see more of it. I’m not a Buffalo native but have lived in WNY for 12 years and am fascinated by its history!

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