BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York State released details for its Regional Revitalization Partnership Wednesday.
RRP is a "multi-year collaborative initiative between New York State's Empire State Development, local municipalities and private philanthropic partners," according to the governor's office.
The three pillars of the program are:
- Fostering small businesses, by providing programs to help improve and grow these enterprises, especially those owned by women and people of color, which expand choices for goods/services to these neighborhoods, revenue/income for community members, and job opportunities;
- Investing in placemaking, by funding improvements to local business districts, rebuilding community anchors and revitalizing neighborhoods; and
- Preparing our workforce, by enhancing local residents' skills and improving their access to opportunities for good-paying jobs.
As part of the program more than $60 million is reportedly coming to the Buffalo Central Terminal and its CTRC steward organization.
"It's both surprising and not surprising," Vice Chair of the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation James Morrell said. "This is something that was really needed, we were waiting for it."
Morrell said this new funding will be the perfect kick starter to get the long-overdue Central Terminal restoration project underway, and he said it could not have come at a better time.
"To have it come during this time in the City of Buffalo with all the tragic that's happening, it’s great news,” Morrell said.
Morrell said the last trains ran through the Central Terminal in 1979 before shutting down.
But he said it was so much more than a train station.
"The community was wrapped around this,” Morrell said. “Hundreds and hundreds of individuals worked in this location, thousands of individuals came through on trains every day. It was a big thing for this community, and we want to bring that back."
He said the project will revitalize the community bringing back what he says once was a beacon for people living there.
But restoring the building and creating this space will take more than the $61 million from the state. Morrell said they are talking about a project that will cost upwards of $300 million to complete. He said the hope is private developers will join the effort.
"We're looking for individuals who want to be part of this resurgence."
Morrell said the $61 million form the state will go to making sure the building structure is sustainable that means you won't be seeing a lot of work done on the exterior right away; the first phase will include things like asbestos removal and making sure tiles are secure.
Other investments in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Rochester as part of the program include:
A combined $180 million effort in Buffalo focusing on an expansion of projects and programs being conducted on that city's historic East Side, including undertaking major portions of long-term capital projects, including: $37 million for Broadway Market capital improvements and to set up a not-for-profit operating entity; major investments in the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor and to restore historic greenhouses at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.
A combined $40 million effort in Niagara Falls that will supplement initial funding growing out of the ESD/City 2021 planning efforts, including a $19 million program focused on food entrepreneurship anchored around that city's historic City Market area along Pine Avenue; a $15 million program to restore, highlight and promote various heritage and community anchor facilities; and $5M of small business assistance programs in the aforementioned commercial district target areas.
A combined $80 million effort in Rochester, which could include major additional investments in that city's ongoing waterfront efforts, such as ROC the Riverway and High Falls State Park; further support/expansion of a multi-faceted workforce training programs/facilities; and targeted small business assistance along commercial corridors in that city's most disadvantaged neighborhoods.
"This public-private partnership will be a catalyst for economic development throughout these communities, and will serve as a model for cities across the nation. As we build back better than ever from the COVID pandemic, this holistic strategy will help lift up the most underserved neighborhoods in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Rochester. New York State will continue to take bold action to transform communities and build a stronger, fairer future for all New Yorkers."
"I thank Governor Hochul for continuing our collaboration on the East Side with this innovative funding initiative that will drive $180 million to Buffalo neighborhoods and sites such as the Broadway Market, Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor, and MLK Park, I also thank the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation and the other private entities which are providing major investments on Buffalo's East Side. These funds build upon and complement the investments my Administration has made driven by the input of residents and businesses on the East Side."
"This is an impressive, collaborative initiative that will amplify economic benefits beyond our downtown tourist district to reach into the City's neighborhoods by revitalizing assets with great potential like the City Market area as just one example. The projects and programs identified for Niagara Falls were strategically identified through a public process of listening sessions and virtual meetings conducted over the last year with community partners and local citizens. I thank Governor Hochul, the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation and other private philanthropic partners who will work with the City of Niagara Falls to make these improvements a reality."