Buffalo River Development Sparking Revitalization

May 2, 2013 Updated May 2, 2013 at 8:28 PM EDT

By Ed Reilly

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May 2, 2013 Updated May 2, 2013 at 8:28 PM EDT

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) At one time, the area along the Buffalo River was a hotbed of industrial and shipping activity.

It began to change in the 1980's, when steel factories closed, grain elevators shut down operations, and the number of lake freighters arriving in Buffalo dwindled to only couple per year.

For several decades, it seemed that this part of Buffalo had become a graveyard for old industrial complexes - many having become eyesores.

But community leaders pushed ahead with plans to use the old industrial sites for recreation, and what was considered a risk, is now sparking a renewed energy for one of Buffalo's oldest neighborhoods.

In the last two years, Buffalo River Fest Park and Mutual Riverfront Park were opened along the Buffalo River.

The parks saw instant success, especially a kayak launch located in the shadows of a giant silo located near the intersection of Hamburg and South Streets.

Work will soon begin on constructing bike paths connecting the two parks along St Clair Street, and ground will be broken later this year for a new pavilion at River Fest Park.

The park projects have created a demand for housing in the area, and there are plans to tear down the former Great Lakes Paper warehouse on Ohio Street to make way for 48 new apartment units.

Next year, work is scheduled to begin on turning Ohio Street into a parkway.

With many other recreational developments in the works, interest in the area is growing from both developers and homeowners.