Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced another step forward in the state's efforts to improve the U.S. Peace Bridge plaza, as a crucial block of land that will be a central part of the transformed plaza is now well on the way to coming under state control. New York officials worked closely with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) officials, including trips to Washington, D.C. to help facilitate today's action.
The block of land previously housed a nursing home, and has been vacant for seven years. The property had multiple liens, including an $8 million lien owned by HUD, that prevented the state from taking ownership and redeveloping the land. The Peace Bridge Authority (PBA) today won a HUD auction for the property, purchasing the lien for $1 million and helping clear the way for the land to be developed as part of the new Peace Bridge plaza.
"Today's announcement is another win for the Peace Bridge plaza expansion project," Governor Cuomo said. "New York worked together with HUD to put the state in position to take control of this land and allow for development work to begin as soon as possible. I commend our partners at HUD and at the Peace Bridge Authority for their hard work on this important step forward in our efforts to remake this vital crossroad between the U.S. and Canada."
Today's action comes on the heels of the Governor's announcement on August 4 that a preliminary agreement has been reached between New York State and the City of Buffalo regarding the transfer of a two-block portion of Busti Avenue.
HUD initially did not qualify the PBA as an eligible bidder for the parcel of land. As a result of collaboration between the Governor's office, the PBA, and HUD officials, the PBA was declared eligible to bid in the property's auction. The Historic Hutchinson Chapel, also located on the one block parcel of land, is expected to be preserved for future use.
About the Peace Bridge improvement project:
In his 2012 State of the State Address, Governor Cuomo proposed improvements for the U.S. Peace Bridge plaza. As part of the NY Works Initiative that was passed in the 2012-2013 state budget by the New York State Legislature, $15 million was allocated for the expansion of the U.S. Peace Bridge plaza and related enhancements, including community projects. Movement on these two projects is long overdue and represents real progress on improving infrastructure that is critical to the economic vitality of Buffalo. In addition, these projects compliment the recent improvements made on the Canadian side of the Peace Bridge.
The renovated and expanded Customs commercial building will significantly decrease traffic congestion and facilitate customs processing. In addition, the construction of the customs building will create hundreds of new jobs and revitalize the local economy. The new building provides a platform for one government face at the border through a more efficient operational layout and tighter integration amongst key federal inspection agencies. Since the Peace Bridge is one of the busiest commercial crossings on the northern border, it is necessary for New York to have the technological infrastructure for advanced targeting of commercial shipments destined for the United States. The federal enforcement agencies will also have the improved ability to rapidly make decisions before trucks arrive at the border resulting in better security and reduced delay times in the commercial lanes.
The Peace Bridge is the second busiest car and freight crossing between Canada and the United States. It is estimated that 74,000 New York State jobs and nearly 17.2 billion in yearly statewide sales income and federal taxes are contingent on traffic flowing over the Peace Bridge.