jim fink

Almost since its opening four decades ago, there has been debate over the limitations of the Buffalo Convention Center. The conversation moved to another level recently with the release of a feasibility study which identified two potential locations for a much larger convention center.  During his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass, Jim Fink of Business First says the study's results aren't sitting well with some in the local business community.


From a new bowling alley on Pearl Street to the arcade games popping up on Main Street, recreation is a now a key element of development projects in downtown Buffalo. As Jim Fink of Business First points out during WBFO's Press Pass, the focus on games reflects the growth of the downtown residential population.


Before falling on hard times, Seneca Street once stood as the hub of commerce and entertainment in South Buffalo. That could be changing. During his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass, Jim Fink of Business First highlights some new developments that will bring new vitality to the neighborhood.


In reporting the recent good news about the Buffalo economy, Jim Fink says he feels like a "broken record, but it's a good broken record." During his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass, Fink notes the $75 million investment by Ellicott Development into its 500 Pearl project. "Wasn't all that long ago that collectively ALL of the development in downtown Buffalo might have equaled $75 million."

The Buffalo Niagara International Airport scored a victory when Frontier Airlines decided to provide service there. According to Jim Fink of Business First, the discount air carrier was also being pursued by airports in Rochester and Syracuse. Fink says Frontier will fill an area need when it begins flying from Buffalo to Denver.


Business First has released its CORE Strength issue, the fifth straight year the far-reaching findings have been published. "It's the value of all the construction projects that are in the pipeline for the eight Western New York counties this year," explained Jim Fink of Business First during his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass. By his calculations, the projects represent $20.6 billion in regional investment, an increase of seven percent over 2016.


Though in its early days, Whole Foods is enjoying great success at its location in Amherst. According to Jim Fink of Business First, company officials are monitoring that activity as they weigh further expansion in the region. "They have an urban supermarket model, called '365.'" That model, Fink said, could lead to a location in the city of Buffalo. It's one of several issues discussed during his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass.


Mike Desmond / WBFO News

With 400 garden writers set to visit the region, Buffalo is building a reputation - one that contrasts with the nationally-accepted image of a city that endures endless winters. During his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass, Jim Fink of Business First outlined how Visit Buffalo Niagara is highlighting  local tourist opportunities for garden lovers.


The announced expansion plans for the Albright-Knox is not only good news for the cultural scene, it will also add to the economic vitality of Elmwood Avenue. According to Jim Fink of Business First, the museum's investment is the latest development for a stretch of the city that is generating major economic activity.

Millions of dollars are being invested into development projects on Buffalo's East Side. While plans are crystallizing at the former site of Buffalo Forge on Broadway, it appears an overhaul of the Central Terminal has been put on hold.  As Business First's Jim Fink points out during WBFO's Press Pass, though the delay may disappoint some,  the overall development discussion provides a positive sign for an often overlooked part of the city. 


What began as an effort to replace a crumbling, cramped train station on Buffalo's Exchange Street "has evolved into a Peace Bridge-like debate," said Jim Fink of Business First. During his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass, Fink points out that Amtrak typically serves about 400 passengers each day in the Buffalo area. The location of a new station may have little effect on that number. 


For the sixth time since 2000, the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament comes to Buffalo this week. The experience has helped tourism officials better plan for the crush of visitors, says Jim Fink of Business First. During WBFO's Press Pass, Fink talks about the tournament and the many development projects that are emerging in some long-forgotten parts of Buffalo.


Two development projects proposed for the Elmwood Village have faced intense criticism from nearby residents. Jim Fink, who covers development issues for Business First, acknowledges the pride that residents have for their Elmwood Avenue neighborhood. But during WBFO's Press Pass, Fink defends the developers, arguing that they have adapted their plans in response to local concerns.

It's been debated and revised for nearly seven years, but Jim Fink of Business First says Buffalo's new Green Code was "worth it." During WBFO's Press Pass, Fink says the city "needed to get into the 21st century from a planning, zoning, development standpoint."


Depending on the time, location and subject, public hearings can be sleepy affairs, or they can be contentious events with opponents and proponents engaged in emotional confrontations. While Jim Fink of Business First decries the frequency of "personal attacks" at recent public hearings, he believes the events are important. Fink cites as the most poignant example the public's role in stopping a Bass Pro superstore, allowing for the dynamic growth of the city's waterfront.


According to an analysis from Business First, there are 1,032 development projects worth $1 million or more underway throughout the eight counties of Western New York. Jim Fink of Business First offers some highlights on WBFO's Press Pass.


While adaptive reuse of Buffalo's historic structures has become common practice in recent years, the plans for the former Pierce Arrow administration building provide insight into an emerging trend. "The money for this is coming from outside the 716-area code," said  Jim Fink of Business First during his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass.


During a recent visit to Buffalo, Governor Cuomo sparred with reporters over his economic development programs and their lackluster performance in creating jobs. On WBFO's Press Pass, Jim Fink of Business First suggested that lofty job goals were not going to happen overnight.

Since HSBC Bank abandoned One Seneca Tower, prospects have been dim for the city's tallest structure. "By Halloween, you're going to be looking at a 38-story, almost one million-square foot, empty office building in downtown Buffalo," said Jim Fink. The Business First reporter offered his perspective during his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass.


Business First

Construction will be ramping up at the Northtowns Plaza on Western New York's first Whole Foods Market. If all goes according to plan, the 50,000 square-foot store should be open in 2017.

"It's a different Niagara Street, in a good way," said Jim Fink of Business First during his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass. He cites a number of projects that are changing the prospects for a part of the city that has shown the signs of neglect for too many years.


It has sat vacant along Niagara Square in recent years, but Jim Fink of Business First expects the Dillon Courthouse to play a key role in a changing downtown landscape.


photo from Jay Moran

Thousands flocked to Buffalo's Broadway Market last week in the days leading up to Easter. For the rest of the year, however, large crowds are rare. The disparity has prompted Jim Fink of Business First to wonder, "Is the Broadway Market in 2016 viable?"


WBFO News File Photo

The prospects for One Seneca Tower, Buffalo's tallest building, remain uncertain. "It's a big development headache," said Jim Fink of Business First during his monthly segment on WBFO's Press Pass. 

The demand for downtown housing appears to be boosting the East Side. "I think what we are finally starting to see is what I call ‘economic development by osmosis’ work its way down Broadway, down William," said Jim Fink of Business First during his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass.


There was initial concern over Kaleida Health's decision to build a new Children's Hospital and vacate the current Bryant Street location. Now, five developers have plans to re-use the site. Jim Fink of Business First sees that as a sign of the region's economy getting its "swagger back."


Rich Products subsidiary BR Guest has been selected to begin operating the Outer Harbor. On WBFO's Press Pass, Jim Fink of Business First says the group should be able to work in concert with those in charge of the Inner Harbor.


The numbers reflect the optimistic chatter regarding the region's economic revival. According to Business First's Jim Fink, the value of local development projects has risen 37 percent in a year to $19.5 billion.


While development in downtown Buffalo has been booming, there is one large exception to the trend. The city's tallest building, One Seneca Tower, remains largely undeveloped. "Wish I could write some sort of happy ending to this, but I just don't see it," said Jim Fink of Business First on WBFO's Press Pass.


If the speculation proves correct and a portion of the One Seneca Tower is used as a hotel, it will add to the trend of new hotels in the region. According to Jim Fink of Business First, as many as five new hotels could be coming to Amherst in the near future.


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