Proposed convention center site clouds the future of downtown high school

Mar 9, 2020

Concerns are being raised about the future of a downtown Buffalo high school. The Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School on Franklin Street could be demolished to make way for a new convention center. But school officials are in the dark about the proposed $440 million project. 


Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School Executive Director Joseph Pohlat said learning about the preferred site for the new convention center in the media three weeks ago was a little upsetting for everyone involved with the school.
    
"Because we all hear the news about plans about our building but we have never been contacted," Pohlat said.

Polat says parents, teachers and students are asking lots of questions, but he doesn't know what to tell them.

The proposed site is bounded by Delaware Avenue, West Mohawk, Franklin and West Huron Streets. He says it's a prime location for a high school because it is accessible by multiple bus routes and Metro Rail.   
    
"We are serving the students from the city. We are serving an underserved population, which most of them don't have private transportation or their parents don't have the means to transport them to school and back," Pohlat said.
 
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said if the project is approved, work could start in 2023. Pohlat says he would love to see a new convention center downtown but if the school needs to move, they need to know two to three years ahead of time because finding an existing facility or building new won't be easy.
    
"For a high school, we need at least four to five acres of land, parking lots, fields and other facilities. But most of the land available in Buffalo either has environmental problems or smaller properties," Pohlat said.
 
In making the announcement last month, Poloncarz said no information was released ahead of time because there was concern land speculators would rush in and jack up the price of a new convention center. He says meetings with property owners will be held over the next few weeks.