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Buffalo's Outer Harbor redevelopment moving forward

by jmaloni

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Wed, Apr 9th 2014 02:00 pm

Members of Buffalo Waterfront Development Advisory Committee announced preliminary guiding principles approved; RFP process for master planning consultant team underway

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. announced this week the state is moving ahead on plans to redevelop and dramatically transform the soon-to-be-acquired state land holdings on Buffalo's Outer Harbor into a vibrant and accessible waterfront for residents and tourists alike. 

On Tuesday, a request for proposals was distributed to consultants to develop a master "blueprint" of land use and development recommendations for 171 acres on the city's waterfront. The selected consultant team will work with the public to plan Buffalo's future on the waterfront.

"Most important to the Outer Harbor planning, the team that creates the blueprint for Buffalo's waterfront will include community input in the development of a comprehensive, implementation-oriented and economically viable master plan for the reuse and redevelopment of the Outer Harbor," said Robert Gioia, ECHDC chairman. "Gov. Cuomo's leadership is giving us the direction needed to re-imagine the once-blighted Outer Harbor."

"People enjoy being on the water, and the Outer Harbor - much like Canalside - is going to be the next great destination along Buffalo's waterfront," said Mayor Byron W. Brown, noting the $11.3 million redevelopment of Ohio Street is now underway, strengthening an essential link between Buffalo's inner and outer harbors. "This announcement is another example of the strong partnerships we have with our local, state and federal officials that is resulting in the great progress we're seeing in Buffalo. I thank Gov. Cuomo for his vision and for helping Buffalo realize its full potential on the waterfront."

In September, Cuomo presented his vision for a transformation of the City of Buffalo's largely vacant Outer Harbor waterfront. This vision includes the transfer of approximately 350 acres of waterfront land from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to the ECHDC, whose mission and resources will better enable it to support and expedite the land's redevelopment. Approximately 190 acres of the transferred Outer Harbor lands, a small boat marina and a beach, will become a new state park and the first state park in the City of Buffalo under the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The remaining, adjacent land is primarily yet unplanned, but will ultimately feature mixed-use waterfront development. 

The consultant team selected to produce the blueprint will possess expertise in community engagement; mixed-use and waterfront master planning and urban design; financial and market feasibility analysis; cost estimation; and familiarity with the local economy and geographic region. Proposals for consultants are due to ECHDC's offices at 95 Perry St., Suite 500, Buffalo, NY, 14203, at noon April 25.

In addition to the RFP, members of a nine-member advisory committee established to offer recommendations on future development plans for Buffalo's Outer Harbor have been announced. The Buffalo Waterfront Development Advisory Committee consists of five members appointed by ECHDC and four members appointed by Brown. Gioia, ECHDC Chairman and president of The John R. Oishei Foundation, will serve as chairman of the committee.
Appointees from the state include:

  • Gioia
  • Cliff Benson, chief development officer/senior adviser, Buffalo Sabres
  • Donald Boswell, president and CEO, Western New York Public Broadcasting Association (WNED)
  • David Colligan, partner, Colligan Law LLP; ECHDC director
  • Kathleen Hochul, vice president of governmental relations, M&T Bank

Appointees from the city include:

  • Ellen Grant, second deputy mayor, City of Buffalo
  • Francisco Guzman, architect/engineer, Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency
  • Brendan Mehaffy, executive director, City of Buffalo Office of Strategic Planning
  • Steve Stepniak, commissioner, City of Buffalo Public Works, Parks & Streets

In its first meeting April 7, the Buffalo Waterfront Development Advisory Committee approved the release of the RFP for a master consultant team and established a preliminary list of guiding principles to serve as a foundation for more detailed master planning to come. Both the guiding principles and the blueprint will be informed by and build upon prior Outer Harbor planning efforts led by the City of Buffalo.

"For decades, the Outer Harbor sat desolate due to limited access and investment," said Congressman Brian Higgins. "Now, with focused oversight, the new Outer Harbor Parkway, and pocket park features lining the Outer Harbor linked by bicycle paths, the public is really taking notice, and we are proceeding with plans to help this destination reach its full potential."

"It is great to see the continued transformation of our city's waterfront," said State Sen. Mark Grisanti. "I am excited to see the Buffalo Waterfront Development Advisory Committee and the consultant team working together with input from the public to create a more enjoyable waterfront for all of the residents and tourists to enjoy."

Assemblyman Sean Ryan said, "I am pleased that the ECHDC and the Buffalo Waterfront Development Advisory Committee are beginning the process to shape the future of this important part of Buffalo's waterfront. Public access to the water is the most critical component in this process, and that should be the guiding principal followed by the advisory committee. I look forward to seeing the blueprint for the future of the Outer Harbor." 

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation is governed by a nine-member board consisting of seven voting directors and two non-voting, ex-officio directors. The seven voting directors are recommended by the governor and are appointed by the New York State Urban Development Corp. (d/b/a Empire State Development) as sole shareholder of ECHDC. The two non-voting, ex-officio director positions are held by the Erie County executive and the City of Buffalo mayor.

As a subsidiary of Empire State Development, the state's chief economic development agency, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. supports and promotes the creation of infrastructure and public activities at Canalside, the Ohio Street corridor and the Outer Harbor.

For more information on ECHDC, visit www.eriecanalharbor.com.

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