There’s a lot happening in the City of Buffalo these days. There is a renewed sense of confidence in the air as the city is going through a rebirth of sorts. All of a sudden there is an influx of people and businesses that want to be downtown. The Medical Center will soon employ close to 20,000 people. Those numbers are similar to Bethlehem Steel’s employment in its hey day. IBM is moving into Key Bank Center on Main St bringing 500 tech jobs to the downtown central business district. Is it actually possible that Buffalo, with the considerable assistance of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, has lucked into a game-changing economic development project that stands to directly create 1,000 new jobs in a 21st century industry – and possibly many more jobs in its ripple effects? If it all works out – and there is no reason thus far to think it won’t – Buffalo could be home to one of the largest solar panel factories in the world!
Opening Main St to vehicular traffic has led to a flurry of redevelopment of many buildings along this street. Giammusso Development, LLC is excited to throw their hat in the ring and revitalize 505-509 Main Street. Cars Sharing Main Street Project’s primary objective is to reopen Main Street to two-way vehicular traffic from Scott Street to Goodell Street through the implementation of the Share the Track-bed Alternative. Project design was developed with extensive community involvement, providing for vehicular traffic, Metro Rail, generous sidewalks for Main Street’s dense pedestrian traffic, bicycle lanes where possible, and short term parking for downtown visitors – a street for all users, as prescribed by the City’s Complete Streets Policy. As part of this project, significant resources are committed toward rebuilding Main Street transit infrastructure. The project goals are to stimulate economic development in downtown Buffalo, increase multi-modal access options and transit ridership, and improve the quality of life in downtown Buffalo. This will be achieved through higher visibility for retail shops, loading zones for shops and residential areas, and parking availability to allow easier access to buildings on Main Street cheap Generic nolvadex.
There are also several new entertainment and Hotel projects in the downtown core. The largest being Terry Pegula’s HARBORCENTER project which will feature two ice rinks and a full service Marriott Hotel. The project sits across from the First Niagara Center and adjacent to the up and coming waterfront. The six new projects include 576 rooms — a 33 percent increase in downtown’s inventory — though the 200 rooms included for the Webster block project are an estimate. The new hotels commitment of hundreds of millions of dollars to the projects is only the latest sign that people want to visit and stay over in downtown.
Does downtown Buffalo need all of these hotel rooms?
“It’s not the local investors, it’s the national brands, the national flags, that are saying there’s demand,” said Brendan R. Mehaffy, executive director of the city’s Office of Strategic Planning.
Build It And They Will Come
The push is on for a larger and newer convention center. Now is the time. The momentum is evident. A new or expanded convention center could result in increased bed tax dollars, some of which could potentially be funneled to Visit Buffalo Niagara’s marketing efforts to attract even more visitors. Conventions in Buffalo would be a popular destination with the city’s rich architectural treasures, our proximity to one of the wonders of the world in Niagara Falls, our sports teams and traditions, our food and our close neighbors to the north Canada being so close.
The County wants a center with at least 180,000-square-feet, which would be about 80 percent larger than current building. Currently, because of its size and age, there about 740 conventions or meetings that Visit Buffalo Niagara can pursue that may consider the downtown Buffalo facility. A larger center could inflate that pitch list to more than 1,200 possible conventions, meetings or special events that would bring in at least 3,000 more visitors and use an additional 1,500 hotel room nights.
The economic impact of that larger pool could mean $3.1 million in new bed taxes and other dollars.
“The center we have now is showing its age and we know that from all the feedback we are getting,” Whyte said.
The Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls, Ont., which opened two years ago, is being credited with bringing in 514,000 new visitors to that city last year while creating $22.6 million in new hotel revenues and $93.6 million in spin-off spending at restaurants and attractions.