Earlier this week Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced that the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center would be getting a facade makeover. This announcement comes at a time when there are mixed sentiments regarding the future of the Convention Center – in particular, whether there is a clear need for a new facility to be built elsewhere, or a need for a complete overhaul at its current location.
Façade and entryway work on the building is projected to begin in February 2022 and be complete by December 2022.
Developer Mark Croce was always in favor of connecting the Convention Center to Statler City. More recently, developer Rocco Termini has been weighing in, calling for a new Bills stadium to be built in downtown Buffalo, along with a new Convention Center. In Termini’s eyes, the relocation of the Convention Center would also free up valuable space in the heart of downtown that is blocking the city’s ‘chi.’ Back in 2018, Termini envisioned a Central Park in place of the current Convention Center. A slightly altered version of that concept would see the partial freeing up of Ellicott’s radial street grid.
A number of other ideas and possible plans have been bandied about over the years: M&T Bank lot, Delaware Avenue, Cobblestone District, … and even Rachacha weighed in on the issue back in 2018.
But for now, it looks like the plan is to put a hold on any potential development or relocation ideas, to spiff up the exterior of the Convention Center.
In a flurry of Tweets, Poloncarz said,” Today, I am proud to reveal the new façade design for the @BFLOconvention. This design incorporates steel cladding and a polycarbonate face that can be backlit using LED lighting to any color. The steel blue panels are a nod to our beautiful waterfront.
“In addition to the new façade design, the entrances will be enhanced by providing more spaces for entry, new wayfinding signage, and additional lighting to eliminate the dark feeling of today.
“Unlike the current 1970s era façade, that hurts our ability to attract conferences, the new façade will be a attractive sight for visitors and prove that Buffalo is truly back. Thank you to @BuffaloNiagara for offering your convention expertise towards the design concept.”
The facade makeover follows a recent investment of $1.2 million in Convention Center lobby improvements, including new flooring, lighting, technology. The project got underway this past June, and is now complete.
“These improvements make the Convention Center much warmer and more welcoming for visitors, creating brightly-lit and accessible spaces that will aid in the flow of large events and assist visitors in finding their way around the building. The next step will involve a much-needed renovation of the Convention Center’s Franklin Street façade and entryway, vastly improving the exterior and lighting the way to a new future for tourism in downtown Buffalo,” said Poloncarz. “As we build our economy back we will be welcoming more and more tourist groups, conventions and trade shows so it is important that we maintain and enhance this facility to provide the best possible experience here in Erie County. These renovations do that and I thank our Department of Public Works and our contractors for getting the project done on such a short timeline.”
“The improvements being made in the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center by Erie County will ensure that the meetings, conventions and events industry be positioned for a strong recovery,” added VBN President & CEO Patrick Kaler. “The County’s leadership has taken the constructive feedback from the center’s customers and put the recourses into capital projects to retain current and generate new business.”
Poloncarz also said he has been in touch with the Albright-Knox about the possibility of adding murals to the rear of the Convention Center, which faces Pearl Street.
Both the completed lobby project and the upcoming façade/entryway work are funded through the county’s capital projects fund and the RENEW Plan.