Buffalo, NY (Business First of Buffalo) -- The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. will unveil the revamp $300 million Canal Side project during a review of the its draft generic environmental impact statement, set for 6 p.m. at Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
Canal Side remains anchored around the 130,000-square-foot Bass Pro store, a series of canals and slightly more than 1 million square feet of retail, restaurant, hotel and residential space, an aquarium and a network of public gathering spaces.
“This shows how Canal Side has really become the focal point of the community,” said Jordan Levy, Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. chairman.
The new plan is slightly revised — mostly from public input — from the version released last December when Canal Side was first unveiled. Canal Side covers the bulk of the lower Main Street area of downtown Buffalo, beginning at Lower Terrace Street and heading south to HSBC Arena.
“Before we had a concept, now it’s the real thing,” said Larry Quinn, vice chairman, Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp.
Thomas Dee, harbor development corporation president, said Canal Side will be done in phases. Some of the work, like the $43 million central wharf gathering site, has already been completed.
Memorial Auditorium has been demolished to make way for the Bass Pro store. Site and utility work on the Bass Pro store is underway, but formal Canal Side construction won’t start until next year after all the mandated environmental reviews are completed. The first Canal Side phases, including the Bass Pro store, are slated to ready for public use by mid 2011, or the fall 2011, at the latest.
Besides serving as a retail outlet, Bass Pro is considering bring its outdoors-themed bowling alley concept — the Fish Bowl — to the downtown Buffalo store as one of its main attractions.
Benderson Development Co., the harbor development corporation’s private-sector partner, is working on filling in the 700,000-square-feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space along with building two hotels — including one near HSBC Arena with 150 rooms. More than 200 apartments and condos are proposed as is 200,000-square-feet of Class A office space, much of it in the revamped for Gen. Donovan State Office Building.
“It will be transformational,” Dee said. “Will it sell? Absolutely. Can it sell? Absolutely.”
Canal Side is also designed to be people-friendly, regardless of the weather and season. Tow paths along the canals are designed to be weather-protected and buffer visitors from the harsh Lake Erie winter winds. The tow paths also serve as inviting boardwalks for the array of stores, shops and restaurants planned in the development.
The canal’s waterways will be adjusted, being deeper in the summer and more shallow in the winter to allow for skating and other activities. Summertime activities will include paddle boats and the use of barges.
“We’re looking at this like we are creating a series of mini-neighborhoods through-out Canal Side,” Dee said.
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