The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority has already done it with one of its Metro Rail stations. Now, it's inviting developers to bring forth ideas for converting other underground rail stations into mixed-use centers.
NFTA spokesperson Helen Tederous told WBFO they are seeking parties interested in presenting ideas for building above six underground rail stations and on the second level of the DL&W Terminal.
The ideas could include commercial and residential ideas but the transportation authority will not dictate what they'd like to see placed at the respective stations.
"We're actually going to leave it to the developers to impress us," Tederous said. "We're keeping a very open mind to ideas and developments. We're really not hoping for one particular development over another but just to get ideas and focus on the communities and provide some critical mass."
The University at Buffalo's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences was built atop the NFTA's Allen-Medical Campus station and provides direct access to and from that rail stop. Artwork provided by the Albright Knox Art Gallery helps provide what Tederous called a successful concept for that station.
The idea for the remaining stations is to create atmospheres that make the station and rail line more than just a service but also an experience and neighborhood asset.
"You talk to people who have tried public transportation and they love it," she said. "They talk so much about having so much flexibility, being able to read before they go to work, not having to park, how beneficial it is for the environment to choose public transportation. There are so many benefits and a lifestyle change for so many who have decided to try it and really make it a part of their lives."
McGuire Development has been retained by the NFTA to represent them in the bidding process. Each station will be open to bidding individually. McGuire, given its role, will not submit bids.
Tederous told WBFO they're hoping to receive bids within the next six months but there's no set timeline for when contracts may be awarded and projects would start.
Funding for the project, she explained, would be public-private partnerships extended from the state's Buffalo Billion program.