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Higgins plan for DL&W called “a horrible mistake”

Congressman Brian Higgins is urging the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to spend over $40 million to redevelop the DL&W Terminal into a light rail station. The controversial publisher Matthew Ricchiazzi, a Cornell trained urban planner, is calling Higgins’ plan “another ignorant mistake that will deprive Buffalonians of the waterfront we deserve.”

In a statement released this morning, Ricchiazzi pledges to make Higgins’ destructive record on waterfront development an issue in the upcoming election cycle. Higgins is responsible for the $50 million reconstruction of an elevated highway on the outer harbor, which Ricchiazzi calls “a generational mistake that will cost us tens of millions of dollars to fix and untold sums in lost development opportunities.”

“Our Congressman wants to waste taxpayer dollars to redevelop a building that the private sector would be eager to adaptively reuse, and would be willing to do so without this massive level of public subsidy,” says Ricchiazzi.

Ricchiazzi has released an alternative plan that would improve public access to the riverfront, repurpose underutilized train yards, and restore a historic street grid that will open up new development opportunities adjacent to the river’s edge.

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“The fiscal economics of the city demands that we put every parcel we can back on the tax rolls,” says Ricchiazzi, who notes that the neighborhood is prime real estate that could be catalytically served by high quality urban design.

“Realigning the light rapid rail off of the riverfront and along South Park Avenue will free up this structure for investment,” he concludes.

Ricchiazzi is calling on NFTA Executive Director Kimberly Minkel to pursue realignment of the light rail onto South Park Avenue and immediately begin soliciting Requests for Proposals from private developers for adaptive reuse plans.

He envisions the terminal as a public market place that would act as a streetscape along riverfront that prioritizes active public use over the NFTA’s plan for an over embellished light rail station.

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