A remarkable-for-Buffalo development is about to be unveiled as careful planning gives way to a synergistic union of public transportation, university education and high-tech health care.
We don’t want to say that Buffalo is poor at developing plans – the region and its constituent organizations have produced scads of them over the decades – but rarely have their efforts led to an actual project of the sort that is about to unfold at Main and Allen streets. If this is what Buffalo’s future is going to be like, we are in for an interesting ride.
Joint planning is under way between the University at Buffalo and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to incorporate the Allen Street Metro Rail station into the ground floor of what will be the new University at Buffalo Medical School as it relocates from the UB South Campus to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, virtually at the doorstep of the Allen Street station.
When it is done, the nexus of the subway station inside the medical campus will be an asset for Buffalo. The gateway to the Medical School and the high-tech medical campus will incorporate mass transit, serving about 2,000 medical students, staff and faculty every day, in addition to other commuters.
This development will provide spillover benefits as commuters seek retail and dining outlets at both ends of their commutes, while avoiding what surely would otherwise be persistent, maddening automobile congestion around the school and the medical campus.
The project requires the reconfiguration of the existing station, and planning is still under way. However, newly placed entrances are expected, as is an open walkway through the building, providing pedestrian access. The station will also become the first on the Metro Rail line to offer retail outlets, providing newspapers and other “grab-and-go” items. Proposals for retail outlets will be sought when work is completed in August 2016.
This is an exciting moment for Buffalo and for the area around the medical campus. The current and future activity there, including the relocation of the Medical School, is going to create significant change in that neighborhood, from the rhythms of daily life to the generational makeup of residents and visitors and even to property values.
With that kind of change in the offing – not simply expected, but virtually guaranteed – it is crucial for those overseeing the change to work closely and in concert to anticipate needs and, as much as possible, avoid the unintended consequences.
In that regard, the planning that is under way to incorporate the Metro Rail station into a new Medical School building augurs well for the larger project.