Today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced a request for proposals to redevelop the building known as Terminal A in Buffalo’s Outer Harbor, a nearly 550,000-square-foot structure that has been vacant for years. This RFP presents an opportunity for experienced real estate developers to purchase and convert the main terminal and three adjacent buildings into a unique waterfront destination, located at 901 Fuhrmann Boulevard. The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, a state entity, envisions the project could include residential buildings, restaurants, office space, cultural attractions, and parking. Submissions are due by 8pm on Thursday 30th March 2023.
“Terminal A is a huge vacant building with huge potential to become a destination dependent on the success of other improvements to the Outer Harbor,” Governor Hochul said. “Now is the time for Buffalo to capitalize on this unique and historic architectural asset, just as it has done with the great terminals in other waterfront cities. We look forward to seeing creative proposals submitted to transform the property into a destination that will attract visitors to the water’s edge while providing a unique place to live and thrive.”
Empire State Development President, CEO, and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “Gov. Hochul’s vision to redevelop Building A represents another step in the dramatic revitalization of Buffalo’s waterfront. We’ve seen how the Outer Harbor has become an indispensable destination, benefiting from smart investments that have not only created jobs, but created pride in a place that wants People live, work and visit in it.”
Station A is a steel-framed clad brick structure constructed in 1930-31. The building consists of a high storage area along the south side, storage space on the first and second floors, and an office area on the eastern end of the building. The building was designed by prominent architect Albert Kahn for the Ford Motor Company. Terminal A was designated a Local Landmark in 2019. Also included in the sale are the nearby support buildings known as the Administration Building, Fire Pump House and Blue Building. The supporting buildings consist of the following:
- Administration Building: 6,700-square-foot brick structure, consisting of garage, storage area, and office space.
- Fire Pump House: 370 sq ft structure.
- The blue building: 4,300-square-foot metal framed garage.
The lakefront property includes 1,720 linear feet of vertical seawall and approximately 4.2 acres of deep water slips along the southern edge.
Robert Gioia, President, Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, said, “The redevelopment of Terminal A will take the Outer Harbor to the next level as an urban waterfront location. By capitalizing on this unique architectural gem, we will attract more visitors, attract first-time residents, and increase activity – all while ensuring the Outer Harbor is a year-round destination.” year.”
In 2021, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) adopted a $150 million General Project Plan (“GPP”) for approximately 200 acres of outer harbor. Phase 1 improvements, located north of the development site, are already underway at a cost of $43 million. GPP can be found here.
ECHDC will retain ownership of the adjacent parcels north of 901 Fuhrmann Boulevard, including the Terminal B complex that will be subdivided from the 901 Fuhrmann parcel. Currently, the Terminal B complex is being converted into a public events facility that will host charity walks/events, concerts and cultural festivals. The complex will consist of an outdoor stage with a sloping lawn towards the stage that can accommodate up to 8,000 visitors. Adjacent to the Terminal B complex is Lakeside Bike Park, which opened in 2019. This public bike park includes three urban mountain bike courses, a skills course, and a pump track. Located between the bike park and Station B, the Great Lawn is an open lawn of over 3 acres suitable for a variety of passive activities. Each of these elements is associated with portions of the Greenway Trail and its footpaths.
To the north along Fuhrmann Street are several other passive recreation sites owned and controlled by ECHDC. These are Bell Slip, Wilkeson Pointe and First Buffalo River Marina. The Bell Slip is located in the middle of an ECHDC property. Thanks to a public funding acceleration led by Governor Hochul and announced in August, construction will begin in 2023 at this site to improve visitor parking, improve footpath communications, a view of the edge of the Bell Slip, and create a public restroom building. Plans are under design to improve the amenities offered at Wilkeson Pointe. In 2024, construction will begin on a new building that will provide food and beverages, as well as restrooms. The building will have a seating area on the beach and will be located next to the entertainment courts. The parking lot at Wilkeson Pointe will also be improved to reduce interference with bike paths. First Buffalo River Marina has over 100 boat slips for personal recreation and access to the water.
Although not directly adjacent, Buffalo Harbor State Park and Sun Life Marina are located just south of the development site. The marina contains more than 1,000 boat slips and has seen nearly $35 million in public and private investment over the past five years.
The full RFP is available here (note: a free account on the New York Contract Reporter website is required to download the RFP). Proposals are due by 8pm on Thursday, March 30, 2023. Pre-submission meeting and site visit at 1pm on Thursday, the 15th December at the offices of ECHDC at 95 Perry Street in Buffalo. Respondents to this RFP may propose any combination of uses that will further development objectives and satisfy all development requirements described in the RFP.
Representative Brian Higgins said, “Today Terminal A is a vacant and ruined remnant of Buffalo’s industrial past. The process of returning this historic structure to private ownership is necessary in order to unlock federal historic tax credits that support the preservation of this historic resource and its transformation into an exciting new resource and destination that builds on our continued progress on the frontier.” The historic federal tax credits, which would account for 20% of total redevelopment costs, have been a major catalyst for the redevelopment of downtown Buffalo, unlocking nearly $1 billion in development activity in the area.”
State Senator Tim Kennedy said, “The RFP for the redevelopment of Building A presents a unique opportunity for those looking to build on the successes of Buffalo’s revitalized waterfront. Governor Hochul and New York State have continued to prioritize improvements to the Outer Harbor and Canalside, and this project will only enhance the momentum and investment that We’ve already seen it.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said, “The conversion of Terminal A will add to the progress we have made over the years in developing the Outer Harbor and Channel areas. The Outer Harbor has become a destination, not only for residents of the area, but for those who visit our wonderful city. I want to thank Gov. Kathy Hochul for her continued commitment to our city.”
About the Erie Canal Port Development Corporation
The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) is governed by a nine-member board comprising seven voting directors and two non-voting ex officio directors. The seven voting directors are recommended by the Governor of New York and appointed by the New York State Urban Development Corporation d/b/a Empire State Development Corporation as the sole contributor to ECHDC. The two ex-officio and non-voting director positions are held by the Erie County Manager and Buffalo City Mayor.
As a subsidiary of Empire State Development Corporation, the state’s premier economic development agency, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation supports and encourages the construction of infrastructure and public activities in the Canalside, Ohio Street Corridor, and Outer Harbor that attract critical mass, private investment, and enhance the enjoyment of the waterfront for residents and tourists of Western New York. . Its vision is to revitalize Western New York’s waterfront and restore economic growth to Buffalo based on the region’s legacy of urban pride, significance, and natural beauty.