Canalside's newest attraction has been officially welcomed into the neighborhood.
The $5 million East Canal Park, a public meeting and gathering space that will serve as a link between the recently-opened One Canalside Building and the HarborCenter project, was unveiled Wednesday.
The park will host its first event this weekend with a holiday celebration on Dec. 20 and Dec. 21 along with a 6 p.m., Dec. 20 Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
Construction on the park began earlier this year and was completed in early December. The work was finished on time and on budget.
"Seeing is believing and this is a beautiful thing," said state Senator Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, who was joined at the ceremony along with officials from the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp.
Designed as an outdoor public space, the park features a picturesque granite plaza, a shallow reflecting pond, fountains, seating, themed lighting and a shaded tree grove.
"Today, we are welcoming another member of our family," said Tom Dee, president of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp.
Canalside has seen a number of new developments take hold, including the One Canalside Building, a $30 million transformation of the former Donovan State Office Building into the new offices for the Phillips Lytle law firm and also a 96-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel.
Under development down Washington Street is the $172 million HarborCenter project. Other recent developments include the popular Liberty Hound restaurant.
Additional construction will see a series of replica Erie Canal waterway through a portion of the former Memorial Auditorium site. The canals are due to open in 2014.
Explore & More Children's Museum will anchor an 80,000-square-foot building planned for another slice of the old Aud site. The building is due to open by 2016.
"Activity at Canalside is now year-round," said Robert Gioia, chairman of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. "But, this park is also about progress."