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ECHDC board approves measures to improve Buffalo's waterfront

by jmaloni

Press release

Wed, Feb 20th 2013 09:15 am

Projects promote Gov. Cuomo's vision for a revitalized waterfront

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. board of directors met Tuesday to approve several items that represent Gov. Andrew Cuomo's vision for a revitalized Buffalo waterfront. The board endorsed the design of the HARBORcenter, a $170 million private sector investment, on the Webster Block, that builds off the excitement and success of ECHDC's Canalside and moved forward to light grain elevators and bridges along the waterfront. It also approved the design of the east canal at the former General Donovan State Office Building site. These efforts, along with ECHDC's accomplishments over the past several years, are spurring the first private investment in Buffalo's waterfront in more than 50 years.

"The projects approved today continue the great momentum and progress we have seen on Buffalo's waterfront under Gov. Cuomo's leadership," said ECHDC Chairman Robert Gioia. "The success at Canalside is a catalyst for nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in active development projects in and around Canalside that are spurring public/private partnerships, attracting visitors to Western New York and making the citizens of Buffalo proud of our rich history. The HARBORcenter will draw people from around the region and beyond, while the east canal and the lighting of our grain elevators represent increased attractions and activities for those visitors."

Based on the recommendations of the ECHDC's design committee and the City of Buffalo Planning Board, the ECHDC board found that the HARBORcenter project is consistent with the design guidelines established by the corporation as part of the modified general project plan for Canalside. The project, which will include the entire Webster Block, is envisioned as a mixed-use facility that physically connects to the First Niagara Center and provides a number of programmatic elements that will further enhance Canalside's status as a premiere downtown destination. The design guidelines and review process are intended to ensure that proposed development contributes to a dense, urbane, pedestrian-scaled development pattern and architectural themes consistent with Canalside development objectives.

The board also accepted the grain elevator and bridges visual master plan, final report as complete. Foit-Albert Associates and Ambiances Design Productions developed the comprehensive phased plan that will illuminate and activate grain elevators and bridges with light and video projections. ECHDC will commence the visual master plan with the following six projects:

▪Connecting terminal illumination

▪Connecting terminal show - concept plan

▪Skyway illumination

▪General Mills beacon

▪Michigan Street bridge

▪Ohio Street bridge

All of the recommendations will require future board approvals before they can be initiated.

The board also approved the design of the east canal, which is the second phase of development on the Donovan Block. The refined plan for the project involves connecting Main Street to Washington Street with a public space that evokes the memory of the Main and Hamburg Canal, yet terminates in a shaded grove of trees, while seamlessly blending into the development site to the north and south.

About Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. 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 New York state 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 that are attracting critical mass, private investment and enhance the enjoyment of the waterfront for residents and tourists in Western New York. Its vision is to revitalize Western New York's waterfront and restore economic growth to Buffalo based on the region's legacy of pride, urban significance and natural beauty. For more information on ECHDC, visit www.eriecanalharbor.com.

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