What we know so far about the development of Dart St. lot


Yomira Meregildo/The Record

The Dart St. lot will transform from a “scrapyard” to a “schoolyard.”

I'Jaz Eberhardt, Vice President, News Editor

New details have emerged regarding SUNY Buffalo State’s role as designated developer of the Buffalo Police Auto Impound lot, 166 Dart St.

Mayor Byron W. Brown confirmed the school’s new role in his State of the City Address in February. The lot “will be converted from a scrapyard into a schoolyard,” according to a highlight from a City of Buffalo press release.

Laura J. Barnum, Buffalo State’s vice president for finance and management, said that while no determination has been made as to what function the lot will serve, the college will collaborate with prospective developers to discuss ideas.

“We have 18 months to go out with a request for proposal—an RFP—to solicit ideas from developers or others on concept or use and development of that land,” Barnum said. “Once we’ve done that, we will want to be open, transparent and inclusive and get public and campus input into that process.”

As of now, the source of funding for the project remains unknown, but recent reports have stated that the school will pay a $1,000 monthly contribution to acquire the site.

Barnum also explained that while Buffalo State learned of the mayor’s appointment a week before his citywide address, discussions surrounding the lot began with President Katherine Conway-Turner and the office of strategic planning in late December 2018.

The president’s vision, along with proximity and the campus’ impact on its surroundings, were all contributing factors of Brown’s appointment of the school.

Still, some may wonder exactly what Buffalo State’s role as ‘designated developer’ actually means.

“A lot of times the city will run the process to determine who will develop a piece of property and then ultimately purchase the property,” Barnum said. “In this case, we will be acting in that role and the city is willing to let us serve in that capacity.”

At the time of the mayor’s announcement, Buffalo State was given 18 months to work with Black Rock Riverside Alliance to prepare a request for proposal to solicit ideas from developers on uses for the land.

The school will facilitate this process with the formation of a capital development board, co-chaired by Barnum and Interim Provost James Mayrose, and five subcommittees that will oversee instructional facilities, space allocation, housing, college signage and college beautification.

The board plans to hold open forums to keep the process as open and transparent as possible, according to Barnum. She also expressed gratitude on behalf of Buffalo State’s administration for the opportunity to expand the college’s reach and impact.

“[Buffalo State] is very appreciative of the city’s willingness to work with the college and to recognize the importance of this project in selecting us,” she said. “I think it’s a win-win for the city, the college and even more for the community.”