Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown delivered his 9th annual State of the City address to a huge crowd at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center Friday afternoon.
Brown, now serving in his third term as mayor, called it a "great day" with the largest attendance for his address yet.
The speech outlined the agenda for 2014. The focus is on a "continued commitment to economic development and job growth, increased housing, new public safety initiatives, as well as support for parks and recreation, youth and education and arts and cultural organizations."
“The State of our great City is strong – stronger than it has been in decades and getting stronger,” said Mayor Brown as he announced $4.3 billion in new economic development activity since 2012 - a new record-high number for Buffalo.
After delivering a more than 22 minute speech, Brown told reporters there is most interest in Buffalo.
"A lot of economic interest in our city and that interest continues to build," said Brown.
The mayor also announced forming a relationship with New York City. Brown says it would drive more tourism between Buffalo and the Big Apple.
The restoration of the historic Trico Building in downtown Buffalo was revealed this afternoon at the State of the City. Brown announced that the Krog Corporation will conduct a $50-million project to rebuild and restore the building. Peter Krog has working to be lead developer of the former Trico plant for months over the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. The building at Washington and Goodell has been vacant for 15-years. It covers 600-thousand square feet of space. Krog will be working in conjunction with Hart Hotels for redevelopment. The project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2016.
Mayor Brown’s State of the City address included:
Economic Development and Job Creation
- Mayor Brown announced a new record-high number for economic development activity since 2012: $4.3 billion, generating nearly 5,000 jobs with more on the way. This impressive job creation number jumps to 10,000 when the rapidly growing Buffalo Niagara Medical Center is factored in.
- Highlighting his administration’s role in the $172 million HARBORcenter project, which opens in 2014, Mayor Brown also announced that the Buffalo Brownfield Restoration Corporation entered into a purchase and sale agreement with Krog Corporation, paving the way to move forward on a $45 million adaptive re-use project at the iconic Trico Building.
- Mayor Brown announced that he will not raise property taxes or property assessments in 2014.
- To address the city’s increased demand for housing, Mayor Brown set forth the following housing goal: 1,300 units of new housing in downtown Buffalo by 2018.
With overall crime down 24% since 2005, Mayor Brown announced that his Zero Tolerance Crime Policy is working. In 2014:
- 49 newly designed Tahoe Police Pursuit vehicles will start the process of replacing the Buffalo Police Department’s aging fleet.
- Fixed license plate readers will also be installed in 2014 in Buffalo.
- Buffalo’s state-of-the-art surveillance camera system will expand to 210 by the end of the year.
Educational support and Youth Opportunities
- Mayor Brown announced that he will increase the city’s financial commitment to his Summer Youth Employment Program by $100,000 to a total of $1.2 million, the highest amount in the city’s history. Last year, the city provided meaningful job opportunities to over 1,400 youth and provided more than 19,000 job opportunities since 2006.
- Mayor Brown announced that he will say ‘yes’ to Say Yes to Education Buffalo, pledging another $800,000 over four years to this program. This follows the half million dollar commitment he made when the program was first launched in Buffalo.
Infrastructure and Parks Improvement
- Mayor Brown announced that over $4 million in residential paving will be conducted in 2014. He also highlighted several infrastructure improvement projects, including:
- Buffalo will continue Mayor Brown’s aggressive plan to return two-way traffic to downtown Main Street as vital in the effort to revitalize Buffalo. Construction will conclude along the 600 Block of Main Street and continue along the 500 Block, spurring new investment and job growth.
- Other infrastructure work includes the $7 million Ellicott Street Gateway Project, $500,000 commitment to Kenmore Avenue and the $11.3 million Ohio Street redevelopment.
- Mayor Brown announced that his administration’s historic investment in city parks ($31 million since 2006) will continue.
- Phase II construction will begin at historic Broderick Park
- $1 million in improvements at Playgrounds
- $700,000 in Park Shelter Improvements citywide
- $8.1 million in construction at more than a dozen community centers across the city
Investing in arts and culture and health and wellness
Buffalo remains committed to providing world-class cultural attractions to city residents and visitors. Mayor Brown announced the following support:
- $250,000 in permanent funding for arts and community programs in Buffalo
- $400,000 to the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor over four years
- To further bolster tourism, Mayor Brown announced plans for a new partnership between Buffalo and New York City.
- Mayor Brown issued a new challenge to city residents: 34% recycling by 2016. After introducing a new recycling program in Buffalo in 2012, residential recycling rates have increased by over 81%, helping Buffalo achieve its highest recycling rate ever – nearly 20%.