BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — It's been 11-years since the former Memorial Auditorium was torn down. But now we are finally seeing a proposal to redevelop the North Aud Block.
The state says this a major step forward for the redevelopment of downtown Buffalo and Canalside.
“It’s really the major next step for us interestingly. This is the last piece of state property we have to develop,” Steven Ranalli, president, Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECDC).
The proposal, issued by Governor Cuomo Monday, calls for a mix of five buildings with 200 apartments, retail and a potential hotel at the two-acre site where part of the old Aud once stood.
“We're talking about up to a half a million square feet of development on this block. It’s a major development,” remarked Ranalli.
Ranalli says the proposed concept was created with public input.
It calls for pedestrian paths to preserve the rich history of the city's canal district.
“We’ve got Lloyd Street and we have Commercial Street. These are historic streets that have gone through this block in the past and so they won’t have vehicular traffic on them,” Ranalli noted.
The project would feature three, four story buildings along the canal and two taller buildings, possibly 13-stories high. 300 parking spaces are also proposed, some to be built underground.
The estimated price tag – $100 million for a private developer, with a $10-million promise from New York State.
“Underneath and behind all this retail along the canal would be a level of underground parking and then in the larger building or buildings, the possibility for parking to come above grade to make sure that there is enough parking on site,” Ranalli described.
Private development surrounds the site including redevelopment at Seneca One Tower and a planned groundbreaking by Sinatra & Company Real Estate for 66 new apartments.
But the North Aud Block has been a stalled section of Canalside redevelopment since the Aud was torn down in 2009.
“As much as we’ve moved things forward over the last ten years, there’s been a hole - back behind me - that has really sort of had people questioning whether we can finish this project or not,” Ranalli said while standing at the site Monday morning.
Noise from the I-190 and lake winds have been taken into consideration for this project.
“The idea with some of these buildings is to make sure that we block that wind and behind the building, in between is where we put the public plaza or the piazza,” Ranalli pointed to renderings.
The public will have a chance to review and weigh-in on the proposal January 22, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, 95 Perry Street, Buffalo.
The ECHDC said request for proposals for the project should go out at the end of this year.