Published March 27, 2013
Thanks to a donation of land from First Niagara Financial Group Inc., the University at Buffalo will acquire the last piece of real estate needed for its new downtown medical school.
The .85-acre parcel, appraised at approximately $2 million, is located at 973 Main St. at High Street, where a First Niagara Bank branch now stands.
Under the terms of the donation, UB will purchase the parcel for $1.
During a March 27 announcement of the donation, UB President Satish K. Tripathi said, “The magnitude of First Niagara’s generosity far surpasses the physical boundaries of the land that is changing hands.
“With this acquisition, UB can move ahead with its plans for the new medical school, which will help to dramatically improve health care and medical education in our region while providing a significant boost to the local economy.”
Bank officials “jumped at the chance to help” when they learned of the land’s significance to the university, said Gary Crosby, First Niagara’s interim president and chief executive officer.
“We are committed to doing great things in our community, and we are proud to collaborate with UB.
“Western New York is a globally recognized leader in life sciences, innovation and research, and we are thrilled to help make the medical school a reality, as it will positively impact our area for many generations to come.”
A design for the $375 million, 520,000 gross-square-foot building is being prepared by HOK, one of the world’s leading architectural firms, in consultation with UB and community stakeholders.
Groundbreaking for the new building is set for September, and construction is expected to be completed in 2016.
The new medical school is being funded with a variety of sources, including UB and SUNY resources, a university fundraising campaign and a $35 million challenge grant provided through the NYSUNY 2020 act signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
The move to larger, world-class teaching and research facilities will allow the medical school to pursue cutting-edge research with cross-disciplinary synergies that are critical to today’s medical advances, said Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and medical school dean.
The expanded medical school will add several new clinical service areas, providing specialty care and health services not currently offered in the region.
“This will significantly improve health care for all Western New Yorkers and will make Buffalo a health care destination, attracting patients from outside our region who seek the very best in specialized medical care,” Cain said.
In addition, Cain said, the move will attract the most promising medical students and world-class faculty to the region.
“The prospect of a brand new, 21st-century medical school next to teaching hospitals and state-of-the-art research laboratories in downtown Buffalo is helping UB to recruit top physicians and scientists, some of whom are already here,” he said.
“The new medical school will allow us to boost the class size of first-year medical students to 180 from 140, so we can graduate more physicians, many of whom will stay and practice in Western New York.”
For medical students, relocating the school to the downtown campus—adjacent to John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital, Buffalo General Medical Center, Gates Vascular Institute, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, the UB Clinical and Translational Science Institute and other research labs—will offer a full-immersion medical education experience.
The project also will significantly benefit the downtown and regional economies.
Moving the UB medical school to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus will bring thousands more people downtown every day, creating economic growth from spin-off biotech companies and new opportunities for businesses and community members in surrounding neighborhoods.
The number of employees on the campus is expected to grow from 7,000 in 2002 and approximately 12,000 in 2012 to 17,000 by 2017.
Recent studies found that one out of every 11 jobs in New York State is supported by medical schools and their teaching hospitals, compared to one in 46 nationally.
First Niagara will turn over the land to UB Oct. 1 and plans to open a new branch on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. In the meantime, a temporary branch will be located at 1031 Main St.