Mayor Brown delivers annual State of the City address

"Race for Place" initiative among the highlights of speech

Mike Baggerman
February 20, 2020 - 3:58 pm

Buffalo City Hall (left) and Federal Courthouse (right). October 9, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - In his annual State of the City address, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown outlined his goals to grow Buffalo with an innovative approach for more economic development, job creation, and skills training for the rest of 2020 and years beyond.

"(We want) a built-knowledge-transfer pipeline and talent development hub," Brown said. "This strategy is driven by our effort to compete in the global race for talent and placemaking while ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion."

The initiative, called "Race for Place", is meant to figure out how make key urban areas in the city more appealing, exciting, and connected. The Buffalo Urban Development Corporation will try to address needs and amenities by surveying communities. Brown said the long-planned restoration of cars returning to Main Street will be among the components in their downtown infrastructure plan.

"Buffalo's Race for Place will improve surrounding in-built environments and complement the interior enhancements already underway at downtown locations," Brown said.  "In this race, we'll look at improvements across the City of Buffalo, specifically through the talent attraction on a global scale. We will advance the vision of the City of Buffalo as a future epicenter of talent, innovation, and inclusion."

Among the announcement made was that Seneca One developer Doug Jemal agreed to forego tax breaks for his project at the tower in order to advance infrastructure improvements in the city. Instead, Jemal will direct $15 million in full tax payments to the "Accelerate Buffalo" fund. Brown said the city will pledge $25 million towards the fund in order to support business development and talent attraction through infrastructure improvements.

Jemal said Thursday that the apartments are ready at Seneca One tower but they are not available to rent yet because construction workers are still on the site. He said he wants Seneca One wants to be opened as "beautiful and magnificent".

Among the other highlights in Brown's speech Thursday include:

  • Creation of 2,100 housing units on Main Street from Canalside to UB South
  • Commitment by the city that 40 percent of housing units will remain permanently affordable for middle and lower income residents
  • Creation of $100 million fund to close racial wealth gap and communicate that Buffalo is a city of opportunity
  • Transformation of Main Place Mall into an office building
  • Sale of Fernbach Ramp to Liberty Group for $20 million
  • Creation of "BuffAlert", a new text alert system. Brown encourages people to text "Join BuffAlert" to 30890.
  • Installation of additional fan safety netting at Sahlen Field by the start of the 2020 Bisons season.

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