No developer has done more for downtown Buffalo’s housing and hospitality than Rocco Termini. He wasn’t the first to convert an industrial building into housing, but he’s had the most success, with a half-dozen acclaimed loft-style conversions in recent years and more on the way. With the benefit of state-provided historic tax credits, Termini completed a $43 million renovation of the long-rundown Lafayette Hotel last year into a multi-use facility that has drawn raves from wedding goers to preservationists. He has also saved the historic Webb Building, which is now being operated as a hotel and banquet facility by Pearl Street Grill. Now Termini is branching out into North Buffalo to create that area’s first hotel as he goes about converting the former FWS building into another contemporary, multi-use space. Termini has an irrepressible belief in downtown, a willingness to put his money where his mouth is and – most of all – an impressive track record.
In the field of addictions, the need for more inpatient beds has reached what many experts consider the crisis stage. And no one is doing more about it than Anne Constantino, head of Horizon Health Services. Constantino, who sees first-hand the perils of prescription drug abuse and the woeful lack of inpatient services available to the addicted, has led a passionate campaign for more inpatient beds in the region. One of the results has been Horizon’s proposal for a $4.2 million 25-bed facility in Sanborn geared to 18- to 25-year-olds. The proposed treatment center is typical of the expansion of services that has occurred under Constantino’s time at Horizons. While president and CEO, her staff has grown to more than 300 clinical and administrative employees. She also was instrumental in helping Horizons develop the first regional community mental health center. It operates as an integrated primary care service and includes the first regional intensive residential drug treatment program. Horizon, established in 1975, is the largest provider of mental health, chemical dependency and medical services in Western New York.
After making a fortune in the natural gas business in Pennsylvania, Terry Pegula is not skimping on spending it in Buffalo. Pegula, a devout Sabres fan, bought the NHL team and removed the threat of it being moved elsewhere. Then he stepped into a leadership role in the revitalization of Buffalo, unveiling a plan for HarborCenter, a giant piece of the revitalization of the Canalside area. The $170 million center will be a two-rink sports and retail complex connected to First Niagara Center. The facility will have a 1,800-seat hockey center where Canisius College will play, plus a full-size practice rink and an expansive training center geared to hockey players. The facility will be a magnet for hockey tournaments, local hockey teams and other skating events. The developers call it “Hockey Heaven.” HarborCenter will also have a 200-room hotel, ground-floor retail space and a five-level parking garage. Pegula has the kind of financial wherewithal to make significant changes to Buffalo and he has shown a willingness to use it. His arrival on the scene just as the city was getting its own Canalside redevelopment efforts going could not have been more fortuitous.
Now in his 15th year at HealthNow New York, Alphonso O’Neil-White recently announced his retirement from the company he has led since 2003. HealthNow is the BlueCross BlueShield Association licensee in Western New York. He will continue to serve as board chairman of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association this year. HealthNow is widely viewed as a leader and innovator in the health care field. O’Neil-White’s impact on the community goes beyond being president and CEO of HealthNow. He is working with Say Yes to Education and serves as co-chairman of the Community Leadership Council. He is a trustee or director on a number of local and national boards, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the National Institute of Healthcare Management. He was recently elected to the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He also has experience in the public sector in addition to the not-for-profit health care field, serving as senior labor counsel for Human Inc., a national publicly traded health care company, and as general counsel for one of the nation’s first health maintenance organizations, Group Health Association.
While the transformation of Shea’s Performing Arts Center cannot be credited to one single person, Tony Conte can take his share of the credit for leading the historic theater out of debt and bringing in crowds for Broadway’s biggest touring hits. Recently Conte has been directing a long and expensive restoration project in the grand old theater. Before his presidency in 2001, he volunteered for 30 years at the theater, giving his time and talents as a board member, development committee member, corporate council chairman and marketing committee chairman. In addition, Conte is single- handedly responsible for the return to life of 710 Main St., formerly the Studio Arena Theater. He has received national acclaim for what he has accomplished.
An aquatic biologist now retired from the Army Corps of Engineers, Paul Leuchner has been a tireless advocate for parks, the environment and maximizing the connecting trails that are part of the Niagara Greenway. The Grand Island resident founded Paddles Up Niagara in 2006 and still serves as chairman. The event has brought hundreds of participants and visitors to a family-friendly canoe and kayak event on the Niagara River off Beaver Island. He was appointed by Gov. George Pataki to the Niagara River Greenway Commission, serving from 2005 to 2009, and now serves as commissioner emeritus on the Past Commissioners Advisory Committee. Leuchner successfully pursued a plan to build a handicapped-accessible launch ramp for canoes and kayaks in the East River Marsh in Ferry Village at Beaver Island State Park and to create the Spaulding Trail that links the Beaver Island Parkway Trail to the East River Marsh. After completing this project he proposed a similar paddlecraft launch in the City of Tonawanda that now operates at Eastern Park on Ellicott Creek.