CONVENTION CENTER PLAN SPOTLIGHTS DOWNTOWN LOCATION

Modified: February 13, 2020 9:57am

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Date: 
2/13/20

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined today by President and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara Patrick Kaler to present the results of Erie County’s Phase II Convention Center Study, conducted by TVS Design and examining the feasibility and probable cost of potential sites for the construction of a new Convention Center. The sites examined in the Phase II study included a “Statler site” incorporating the historic Statler Hotel and utilizing the existing Convention Center; an “HSBC site” adjacent to the existing HSBC Building and bordered by Perry Street, Scott Street and Michigan Avenue; and, instead of renovation of the current facility and construction of a new “wing”, the construction of one facility at a “Delaware site” on Delaware Avenue next to the Statler hotel and bordered by Franklin, West Mohawk, and West Huron Streets.

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said, “The Phase II study provided a deep dive into the feasibility of construction at the potential sites and the costs associated with each as well as their strengths and shortcomings. The information revealed through the study gave a much clearer picture and provided much greater perspective of not only what would be needed to construct a new Convention Center but how that new building would affect and be incorporated into the cityscape. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so it needs to be done right.”

The Phase II study evaluated each site using high level/desk-top quantitative and qualitative measures. The qualitative review generally focused on practical operational access and serviceability with experiential urban design impacts and relationships to cultural/commercial centers. The quantitative review focused on building size and development cost.

These reviews led to the emergence of one site as the best candidate for a new Convention Center: the Delaware site, directly north of the Statler hotel and providing the greatest value for the least cost. This site would meet the HVS-recommended program area, have good operational serviceability, and would allow a return to Buffalo’s radial street grid through the re-opening of Genesee Street downtown to Pearl Street (currently blocked by the existing Convention Center, which would be razed in this plan). This location also takes advantage of existing hotels, restaurants and commercial activity in the City while also preserving the integrity of the historic Statler, which would be poised for investment as a functioning hotel and tourism center.

Poloncarz continued, “The Delaware site is the option that presents the best return on investment and offers the most exciting, transformative vision for Buffalo. It offers the proper amounts of space needed for the many functions of a modern Convention Center, it is in close proximity to existing hotels and restaurants, and it is right next door to the historic Statler hotel, which will now attract more attention and investment as it returns to its former glory. This is a visionary plan that will transform the City and the county.”

The Phase II study placed a preliminary cost estimate for the Delaware site at approximately $440 million, which includes site acquisition fees, the demolition of the current Convention Center and construction of the new one, construction of a new parking ramp on the current Convention Center site, and the moving of the historic Hotchkiss House to a new location nearby. Preliminary cost estimates at the HSBC site were approximately $606 million, while the Statler site, which did not meet the minimum size requirements, was $438 million.

More information on the Delaware site, as well as the other sites, can be found by reading the study here.

A public comment period on the study and its findings will be open for thirty days and can also be found on the website.