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BUDC's No. 2 retires after 35-year career

by Jonathan Epstein
Fri, May 1st 2020 08:00 am
The Buffalo News  [ View Original Article ]

David Stebbins, the longtime No. 2 executive at the Buffalo Urban Development Corp. for 17 years, and a fixture of Buffalo urban planning and economic development, is retiring in June.

Stebbins, who turns 65 in a week and officially leaves on June 5, will be succeeded by Rebecca Gandour, the city's director of development in the Office of Strategic Planning, who will shift over to BUDC.

Stebbins, a 35-year veteran of urban planning and development, has been responsible for coordinating and helping with redevelopment and infrastructure projects in Buffalo, working alongside the city and other organizations. During his career, he focused on waterfront planning, economic development, small business assistance and real estate development.

"He has served this agency incredibly well. His retirement will be a big loss," said Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, who chairs the BUDC board. "He has done incredible work at BUDC. He's a can-do individual. He figures out ways to get it done."

While Stebbins was vice president and then executive vice president at BUDC, the nonprofit agency redeveloped the 260-acre former Republic Steel site in South Buffalo that became RiverBend, now home to the giant Tesla factory, as well as the 275-acre former Hanna Furnace Steel Mill and Union Ship Canal that is now the Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park.

More recently, the organization has overseen the initial redevelopment of 35 acres of longtime industrial land on Buffalo's East Side into the Northland Corridor light-industrial hub, anchored by the Workforce Training Center and Buffalo Manufacturing Works.

Prior to joining BUDC as a vice president and senior project manager in June 2003, Stebbins worked for the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp. for almost 15 years. He started as a senior project associate and rose to senior executive vice president and chief operating officer, and then interim president in his last year. Earlier, he spent five years each as a city planner for Buffalo and previously for the Erie and Niagara Counties Regional Planning Board, starting in 1978.

He has been a certified planner since 1986 and a member of the Urban Land Institute, and has degrees from University at Buffalo and University of North Carolina.

"I’ve had the great stroke of luck working with David for the last 25 years," said BUDC President Peter Cammarata, who also worked with Stebbins at BERC. "I'll sorely miss him. Our partnership has been one of smooth operation all day long. We complement each other, from an urban planning background and a management background."

Stebbins called it a "bittersweet" moment. "It’s really been an honor and a pleasure," he said. "I think after 30-plus years of pushing that stone up the hill, we’re not at the top yet, but we’re getting damn close. I’m really proud of everything we’ve accomplished."