Richardson Olmsted Complex Master Plan takes next step towards implementation
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Buffalo, NY. With the Richardson Olmsted Complex Master Plan complete, the Richardson Center Corporation is proceeding with the required environmental review. Completion of this process will enable the reuse of the historic buildings and grounds, the former Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane, to evolve from planning to implementation.
As lead agency, Empire State Development (ESD) led a Public Scoping Meeting for the Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS). The Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) process prepared under the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) will evaluate the environmental, social, and economic, impacts of the key priorities and reuse activities that are best defined and will move forward in the near term.
The input at this meeting built upon a year long active and active public process, including a Community Advisory Group and three public meetings to refine the Master Plan.
The Master Plan assessed the Richardson Olmsted Complex buildings and site and created a plan for near and long term development of the historic buildings and grounds. A mixed use campus will start with a core set of integrated uses - Architecture Center, regional Visitor Center, boutique hotel and event/conference space. Located in the iconic towers administration building, two flanking former wards, and two former kitchens, this development will utilize 188,000 square feet, one third of the total historic buildings (includes basements).
The Architecture Center and Buffalo Niagara Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Visitor Center will serve as a central and accessible location to highlight the region’s assets. Interactive exhibits and programming at the Architecture Center will showcase the architecture and landscape of the region and the site, including the history of mental health care.
Rehabilitation of the South Lawn between the historic buildings and Forest Avenue will recapture the space for gathering and recreation, relocate parking, construct paths and reinstate the once pervasive tree canopy. The north side of the Towers Administration Building will become the main entry for tours and visitors with a new northern entry via an east-west road, preserving the bucolic character of the South Lawn and allowing for a greater intensity of use and access to the complex from the north without diminishing the importance of the historic south entrance.
Stabilization of the remaining buildings and grounds will continue, to prevent further deterioration and prepare for future development.
The finalization of the GEIS will facilitate major actions to enable implementation of the Master Plan: The RCC will gain title to the State-owned buildings and lands at the Richardson Olmsted Complex that are currently designated as surplus by OMH as well as additional areas of non-surplus land to the South of the Towers Administration Building; The RCC will apply to the City of Buffalo to amend the City Zoning Ordinance to permit the uses proposed in the draft Master Plan, rezoning from its current R2 Dwelling district to the C2 Community Business District or an equivalent and ESDC and the RCC will enter into a grant agreement to administer the state funds in accordance with a General Project Plan.