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$13M renovations begin Buffalo Outer Harbor investment, but not without pushback from environmental groups

Posted at 7:42 PM, Nov 09, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Construction work is now underway to transform part of Buffalo's Outer Harbor into a new special events complex.

Those plans include an amphitheater on the southern end of their property.

The project is being built on the site of the old Tops Warehouse, also known as Terminal B, along Furhmann Boulevard.

The site is currently not accessible to the public, but that will soon change, despite a push by some people to have that property turned into more green space along the waterfront.

State and local lawmakers officially getting a different kind of groundbreaking at the terminal b warehouse.

"This is the next big step on Buffalo's Outer Harbor," Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) president, Steven Ranalli said.

It is a $13 million investment that will be turned into an outdoors events center.

According to ECHDC president, Steven Ranalli, the land is contaminated and the property is inaccessible.

"We will be taking this 100,000 square feet, abandoned warehouse, right along the lake edge. We're going to take this down, tear this down to its studs if you will," Ranalli said.

Ranalli added there will be a green room for performers and another for mechanical inside the space.

New York Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin said, "You know, I feel very strongly about Alicia Keys being the first person here to sing the Empire State of Mind, but in all seriousness, bringing the Buffalo Philharmonic, bringing so many different entertainment, opportunities for the community. It's all about quality of life."

However, members of the Outer Harbor Coalition said preserving the outer harbor is a better option.

"We think this is a beautiful natural asset and it really belongs with state parks, not with a development corporation," Partnership for the Public Good senior policy fellow, Sam Magavern said.

Sam Magavern said the organization is asking Governor Kathy Hochul to stop the implementation of the ECHDC, especially their plans for the amphitheater, and order a full environmental review of the plan.

"And then, kind of a bigger picture, we're asking her to start the process of transferring this land from the development corporation to state parks," Magavern said.

It is a controversial project they believe needs to be on the governor's desk as soon as possible because of its ecological factor.

"It's doing it in an inappropriate place. You can do outdoor concerts at a lot of different places but there's only one waterfront. So, things that go on the waterfront should relate to the water," he said. "This summer, they did some concerts out at the Outer Harbor. They did these drive-in concerts and I looked at one of them and the starting ticket price was $165. We're concerned that this is really not a plan for everybody. It's just a plan for people who can afford really expensive concerts. We think that this amazing waterfront land should be for everyone to enjoy for free."

Construction is expected to be completed by Fall 2023.