The president of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) will retire at the end of June.
Thomas Dee joined the ECHDC in 2009 after working at the Buffalo-based global architecture firm CannonDesign for 28 years. The ECHDC is a subsidiary of Empire State Development, the state's economic development agency. The ECHDC is tasted with revitalizing Buffalo's waterfront and restoring economic growth to Western New York.
Under Dee's leadership of the ECHDC, Western New York witnessed the transformational development of Canalside. Dee managed the $70 million state investment and oversaw Canalside's design and construction through placemaking, programming, incremental improvements and capital projects. That includes Liberty Hound, the East Canal, The Ice at Canalside (the largest outdoor ice skating rink in New York State), the Connecting Terminal grain elevator lighting and the historic Central Wharf extension.
Since then, there has been more than $500 million in private development in the surrounding area. More recently, Dee has been overseeing the Outer Harbor's redevelopment and was instrumental in the design of the new Ohio Street corridor. Today, an estimated 1.5 million visit Canalside and 250,000 people visit the Outer Harbor each year.
"Tom was instrumental in shaping a vision for our waterfront at Canalside and the Outer Harbor," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "He saw the potential for transforming our water's edge when many thought it was not possible. Most importantly, his work over the years shaped downtown Buffalo and our waterfront into a prime destination for both tourists and residents. I wish Tom all the best as he retires after many years of incredible leadership."
Dee is a native Buffalonian and says he counts the success of Canalside as a highlight of his 40-plus year career.
"My time spent at ECHDC has been the most challenging and most rewarding period of my life," said Dee. "I believe that history will judge that the transformation of Buffalo's waterfront has exceeded all expectations and will prove to be a major turning point in our city's rich history. I am proud to have made such a significant contribution to my hometown."
Among his accomplishments, Dee cites his success in restoring Western New York's pride in Buffalo's waterfront, creating a design that provides equitable access to the water's edge, and encouraging development from the private sector."There is still a lot of work to be done and I'm confident my colleagues and the leaders at Empire State Development can guide the process forward," said Dee. "It's been an honor to serve New York State and I want to thank Governor Cuomo for providing me with the opportunity to make such a meaningful difference."
It is unclear who will replace Dee as president of the ECHDC, but Dee says he is committed to a full and proper transition for his successor. Dee is set to officially retire on June 29, 2018.