11/13/2008

Union Station Grant Denied

Posted by MJ


From the Buffalo News:
http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/niagaracounty/story/492266.html

Seems that the first bid for a state grant was "kicked to the curb" though the article is not fully clear on why. Maybe when the LUSJ reports on it there will be more info. They are moving ahead on trying to secure a different one.

Did anyone here contribute in the 90's to the old owner? I remember coming across things questioning where the money went.

This is a very cool structure. Even if it did not find a new life as a functioning building again, it could make a nice park similar to the St. Joseph's facade that was preserved and turned into a park in rochester: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/197/466661628_5d21af53c0.jpg?v=0 and could even function a train stop in that more simple form.

UPDATE:
Link to the Davidson's website about the project:
http://www.nytrainstationrenovation.com/Union_Station/Welcome.html
Thank you Lockport Mom

33 comments:

Larry in FL said...

This is probably going against the grain of popular opinion re the Union Station: I have been watching this saga since the building burned about 35 years ago. In that span of time I have seen several proposals put forth for use of the building/site. Some were practical (barely) while others were pie-in-the-sky. Numerous administrations have come and gone along with as many or more grant proposals....nothing has come to fruition for one reason or another. Yes, the building is "historic", yes, it is beautiful architecture that can never be duplicated....however: I submit it is time to bite the bullet, bulldoze the ruins - for that is what they are - and put the land to a practical use and return it to the tax roll. No, I have no suggestion as to what use that may be - that's beyond my area of expertise - and as I no longer live in Lockport, it is not my place to tell the citizens what to do. I can only suggest we finally stop dreaming about what was and face reality.

Rocketboy said...
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MJ said...

Hi rocket boy. It's just a picture. No where was Davidson called out. It is private property and should be protected/secured. I had the pic, thought it looked cool, and I'm a visual person so you'll see at least a pic in most of my postings.

Larry: I don't think it is against the grain. A lot pry feel that way. But a lot of old cities show that knocking something down is not a real "fix". Once this structure is down it's down for good. It would most likely end up as overflow gravel lot for the bar accross the street for the next 30 yrs still not producing much tax revenue.

Leaving it up there is always potential for reuse regardless of how long it takes. See the Genessee Block where the 33 ends in DT Buffalo. 20+ years after the facades were stabilized and the rehab of the whole block has started. Or look at the many old buildings which have recently become lofts to the almost "none" which have been new builds. Or where is the Chip Strip located? Where old buildings were available close together.

"Urban Renewal" had left cities with more "shovel ready" lots than they could fill back in. If someone has a better plan for this piece of land, then I say knock it down and porceed (give me some of the stones!). But knocking it down prematurely only removes future options.

Rocketboy said...
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Larry in FL said...

MJ,

"But knocking it down prematurely only removes future options."

Prematurely? After thirty five years, I would not call any such action "premature"!

Lkpt Mom said...

MJ, I have a wonderful picture of Union Station before the no trespassing sign I would be glad to share with you. While I have a problem with the taxpayers funding the renovations, I wouldn't want it bulldozed either. I love that building just the way is, call me weird but it is so awesome.

MJ said...

I get the sarcasm now RB.

I could wait another 35 years if there was nothing else to replace it LF. Like LM says, I enjoy a good ruin as the next person.

And sure LM, I'm sure there's a link to e-mail me on here somewhere!

Erin said...

I remember wishing that I was around before Union Station was burned -- it seems like such a beautiful building.

I'm not sure that bulldozing the property would lead to any development there necessarily; it is kind of away from the beaten path (unless you like hanging at Groff's, which I don't considering my gender -- haha). I guess it's the nostalgia in me that would like to see people make a go of renovating it. But, this is coming from a person who was bummed about the "Aud" getting torn down in Buffalo.
Lkpt Mom -- can't wait to see you pic!

LockportMom said...

http://www.nytrainstationrenovation.com/Union_Station/Welcome.html

It is too bad that the probability of this being restored is sad. It makes you wonder with the economy the way it is what else will be shelved.

I also thought I read elsewhere on a blog that the grant application was lacking information and that is why it was denied. But when I did another search I couldn't find it.

I also thought I read once that years ago there was a person who gathered some of the pavers and used them for his own personal patio, then dragged them to another state to rebuild the patio when he moved.

Lkpt Mom said...

MJ I can't find an e-mail address for you. If you have access to my e-mail please contact me, I will reply and hopefully attach my picture of Union Station.

Rocketboy said...
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LockportMom said...

Rocketboy, it is kind of off the beaten path, but imagine what could be done with it when the ice rink opens? The potential could be enormous and it is a short walk from one place to the other.

MJ said...

Like most things, it ends up how you design it to be. You have to start somewhere

Right now it is "kind of nowhere". But looking at the old pictures at the site linked to above it did at one time use to be "somewhere."

The whole block of Washburn, Union, Market, Chestnut is pretty much a clean slate with all the surface parking on it. As the ice rink (and whatever may come after)starts to develop the area can be reintegrated instead of shut off from the rest of DT. The block itself could easily hold a development similar to Ulrich City Center to reintegrate everything (buildings on the outside, parking within). If they got the Dassult land cleaned and cleared thru superfund, that property would be great with the views of the canal and lower town that could be had from it.

Design things how you want them to be. Don't design to lowest standards just because that's the way things are now. Excellence will never be obtained. Things were chipped away at one at time, it will take one at a time to fill them back in.

...and besides, Groffs always seems busy, so some people must know where it is ;)

Lkpt Mom said...

When the Ice Arena becomes reality that area will come to life. Wouldn't it be nice to have a hotel in that neighborhood? Tourists could then catch a train to Niagara Falls for dinner, go to the casino, see the sights. Families in town for a hockey tournament could ride the train to the falls and back. A basic platform and train station might be just what we need.

Erin said...

Ice rink -- are they really going to build it this time? That would be great!

FortWayneMomma said...

I always found Union Station to be this magical spot. I have never before seen a picture of it in its original state until now. I just imagine men in women in their fancy clothes coming to Lockport to visit this spot. Unfortunatly, that is no longer the case in that area. I love Lkpt Mom's ideas of it being a tourist/train spot, but I think we all can say, as much as we would love that to happen, it most likely never will. Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to live in Lockport/Olcott back in the "olden" days when life was "booming".

MJ said...

Last LUSJ articles on the ices rink still show it moving ahead for the Sept.09 opening with one sheet of ice. The group doing it now owns the building.

The location is only two blocks from Main St, One block from Niagara produce. The selling off of Washburn there could pose some continuity issues, but something like that could be overcome with alternate parking agreements or recreating Charles St up to Union.

Rocketboy said...
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MJ said...

I guess we'll have to disagree on what "mostly empty" is. ;) The Main St buidlings were full up until Metropolitan recently closed. The Walnut St buildings were at least half full. That's at least 75% full for the past year. This on a block that was a grass lot and small farmer's market. We now have a bunch of buisnesses and a venue for the Canal concert Series. A great looking well planned on at that.

In the Town, Big lots plaza is mostly empty as is a notable portion of the Home Depot plaza. So I will assume you were just not singling out the city when you mentioned "Lockport". As for the Benderson spec space at Summit and Transit. I'm not sure why that is moving. It appears geared to medical offices yet they are all choosing to locate behind big lots on Snyder Dr.

I did not say they will automatically come. No investment is not without risks. But doing nothing, or doing something which just reinforces the way things are will guaranty that they will not come and things will not change. An old city will not "out 'burb" the 'burbs. It will not demo and pave its way to greatness or sucess.

When Mark Goldman opened "Calumet" on what was then a drug and prostitute infested Chippawa St. No one thought it would suceed either. But with time the uniqueness of the intact urban St along with a unique buisness model a whole district was born. Or look at Elmwood or resurgent Hertel, older mostly intact streets that can nurture small upstarts in a unique setting which after gaining traction see new-build buisnesses etc.

More than a generation of kids has been raised on fears of DT/city areas and that they "suck". I was rasied that way on Buffalo. Had to take a metro down there on my own to explore and make up my mind for myself. Events like the Canal Series to get them back down can start the development of a new generation of DT comnsumers. One's looking for thier own identity separate than the cul-de-sac and asphault ones of their parents.

When I moved to Lockport 5 years ago I though it had some great "bones" and a location near East Amherst to be something special. It has only gotten better since I moved here. Change takes time and in older areas of our county, it takes a lot of work from the "little guys" to get it moving. But if people truely want it, they will accomplish it.

The Union Station facade standing harms no one. It's existance can insipre dreamers until one comes along to get it done. An empty field back there, I submit, will inspire no one.

Rocketboy said...
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MJ said...

First off I did not mean to lump you in the "do-nothings" Sorry if I came across this way. I am actually do nothing in this case. Leave the facade if nothing else, don't use "my money" do demo it. ;)

A sad part of the UCC is that the street fronts aren't really used. Especially ones where they cover the windows. Entrance at parking is still a biggy. Last I recall walking by only the sections at each end were yet to be built out.

I too would love minimal gov't investment. Though years with lack of regional planning and the ability of anyone to pick up move to "greener" pastures put older areas at a disatvantage, especially land locked ones. Less people around to care for everything. One way or another we will all subsidize the older areas (be it local/state/federal monies). We can subsidise crime ridden, publicly demolished, hollowed out no man's lands such as Buffalo's east side or we can use the money to try to pre-emptively strengthen them and get them producing tax revenue instead of eating it. I prefer "loans" over grants. Upon selling a buisness/buidling that recieved them, a portion of the sale price/loaned amount should get paid back.

I'm a 4-block walk from the concerts.

I look forward to a discussion on the parking ramp. I hope to post on it soon.

RMM said...

I'd like to think that it will still happen. I spoke with the Davidson' when the "event" was held at the station this summer.I think it would be great to have a rail like with the Falls,the Winery, and the Medinah Railroad Musem. Realisticly however, any new idea during this economic slump will be a risk.

RMM

jaws said...

What I want to know is why would this project cost the quoted $3 MILLION?!? I would love to see something built here. Couldnt they keep it fairly simple first and if it works expand? I ride the Christmas train every year and this would be a great stop/boarding area.

RMM said...

hey Jaws...give me some info about the christmas train..

MJ said...

That was my thought. Just stabilize the facade, clean up the grounds and build a simple platform allowing stops in DT Lockport. Start to build a bigger foundation of interest in the building. Similar to what was done at the Central Terminal in Buffalo. Do the project piece by piece, event by event, building it up as you go along.

And I'll second the request for more info on the Christmas Train. you are welcome to do a post on it Jaws. E-mail me if interested.

Rocketboy said...
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Tim said...

Here is the Santa Train Schedule. I did it about 4 years ago and it was great for the kids and a nice ride. Santa makes an appearance to greet the kids and adults.

2008 Santa Train Schedule
Sat, Nov 29th
Sat & Sun, Dec 13th & 14th
Sat & Sun, Dec 20th & 21st

All Santa Trains depart from the Medina Railroad Museum, 530 West Ave, Medina, NY. Arrive ½ hour early. Reservations not required, but recommended for groups of 10 or more.

Trains depart 12:00 noon, 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm
$13.00 per person ages 2 and up. Under 2 yrs old—FREE.
Includes tour of Medina Railroad Museum!

Brockport Santa Train Special
Sat & Sun December 6th & 7th

Boarding location – 165 Park Ave Brockport, NY
Reservations not required, but recommended for groups over 10.
Arrive ½ hr early.

Trains depart 12:00 noon, 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm
$10.00 per person ages 2 and up. Under 2 yrs old – FREE
Brockport Santa Trains do NOT include tour of Museum.


Visit the Medina Railroad museum web site for more info.

jaws said...

http://www.railroadmuseum.net/train_excursions.htm
This is the schedule, fares, etc. for Medina Railroad. We pick up the train in Lockport at the railroad yard at Michigan & Park Ave. You just stand in the parking lot till the train comes. Not too exciting...which is why a real depot/station would be so great. They also do autumn foliage and winery rides. The depot could make an ideal "murder-mystery" dinner/ride too.

RMM said...
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MJ said...

The site says:
"No general boarding in Lockport in 2008 except for Winery Trains."

Pretty sure we are going to hit this ride next month.

I guess boarding at the yard allows for a crossing of the upside down bridge. If boarding were to take place at the Union Station maybe a slow crawl around the bend to stop on the bridge for picture taking and then reverse back off to Medina?

The more I think about it, a grant for a simple platform rebuild between the building and tracks would be a great start. Start showing small sucesses and build from there. People react (and contribute) to seeing steady progress instead of endlessly waiting to see if a whole large project will ever happen. A platform, clean landscaped grounds would a wonderful first (and most likely obtainable) step.

jaws said...

Didnt notice that no Lkpt boarding this year. Maybe all the extra traffic with the ethanol deliveries. Thats too bad, when you boarded in Lkpt you got dropped off in Medina to look at museum and got brought back an hour later. The upside down bridge is a highlight of trip, simply backing up could solve that.

Matt said...

Ha, we made the signs, they weren't meant to be funny, they are there to "ward" off trespassers. Like they care. Until we get a new fence up, they will continue to vandalize/spray paint/leave garbage etc. But luckily the regulars at Groff's are good witnesses. ;]

MJ said...

Hi Matt, thanks for the message.

Strangers are good. Even if they are patrons from a bar. Active streets/locations full of "eyes" are a great way of self policing making areas safer.

Best of luck to your uncle. We all look forward to good news in the future.

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