Buffalo Central Terminal
Located in the city’s Broadway-Filmore neighborhood, the Central Terminal is often referred to as the most beloved building in Buffalo. While the restoration of this architectural jewel has been a dream many have longed for since its doors closed in 1979, the plan driving its current redevelopment forward also aims to generate significant social and economic benefits for neighborhood residents.
Central Terminal Restoration Corporation, Inc.
Buffalo, New York
Historic Preservation, Urban Environments, Urban Planning, Urban Design
For decades, the City of Buffalo’s iconic Central Terminal has sat shuttered, without consensus on how it could be returned to the bustling economic and social center it once was. SmithGroup and a team of partners worked closely with the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation (CTRC), investment entities, civic agencies and community members and representatives to develop catalytic plans for a transformational redevelopment project that will bring new life to the landmark and the diverse community surrounding it.
The SmithGroup team helped lead a 16-month process that, despite the sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, gave East Side Buffalo residents a meaningful and active voice in shaping the plan. Using a combination of virtual and socially distanced engagement methods, the team held five meetings with the local Community Advisory Council and three public meetings that drew 325 participants, while also getting input from six focus groups and from surveys to inform plan recommendations for development, housing, transportation, community open space, and arts and culture.
Understanding the Central Terminal’s irreplaceable historic significance (as well as the fact that the most sustainable building is frequently one that’s already been built), the SmithGroup team leveraged its integrated historic preservation and cost estimating expertise to provide an extensive conditions analysis with associated development costs for renovation and reuse – the most in-depth study of the facility ever completed. The recommendations also make the restored building fully responsive to 21st-century sustainability demands, with plans for geothermal cooling and heating and onsite solar power generation.
Following its successful completion and adoption, the plan helped secure a $61 million investment for implementation in 2022, made possible through the State of New York and philanthropic foundations. The first phase of this $300M adaptive reuse effort will focus on the Terminal’s grand concourse and great lawn to establish a connected “Civic Commons” as a year-round venue for events and community activities. Subsequent phases will include fulfilling structural and systems-based updates necessary to restore the 17-story facility’s full capabilities. At the same time, programming and activation of the grounds will be strengthened through partnerships with community organizations and groups to celebrate local culture and initiatives.
This long-term framework blending destination development with neighborhood reinvestment will continue to transform the Central Terminal into a vibrant center of new opportunities for Broadway-Filmore residents and the City of Buffalo.
To learn more about the Buffalo Central Terminal Master Plan please visit the project website: