A Hundred Million Here, a Hundred Million There…

12 Dec

…and next thing you know, you’ve got a waterfront in downtown Buffalo that people will bother to visit.


We’ve got the building blocks. The development of the area around the canal terminus proves that the inner harbor can be an attractive, fun place to visit. Concerts and fireworks during the summer help make it a brand new and integral part of Buffalo’s warm-weather repertoire of venues. The Aud is down and gone. The Donovan is poised for re-use. The plans are there.

People just need a reason to go down there.

Now, winds whipping off the lake at hurricane force aren’t conducive to wintertime waterfront fun, but we can’t ignore the fact that other cities in cold climates make the most of their wintertime weather. Quebec City’s Winter Carnival, Ottawa’s Rideau Canal rink – it happens. The pond hockey tournament at Erie Basin Marina proves we can do it, too.

And so it is that Governor Paterson comes to town and holds a press conference with Congressman Brian Higgins, County Executive Chris Collins, and NYPA President Richard Kissel to announce that they’re going to get something built down there that will make it worth people’s while to go down there.

Paterson said, “I want to make this crystal clear. We are going to revitalize this harbor, and we’re going to do it in the next few years.” Part of the announcement today had to do with some financial hocus-pocus to transform 50 years’ worth of NYPA relicensing fees into a 20 year plan that means $8.5 million per year to ECHDC, rather than $5 million. The price tag for Canal Side is said to be $315 million, which is really probably closer to a half a billion in New York dollars. But it’s hoped that by compressing this NYPA resettlement will make it easier for the project to find private financing.

As an aside, Bass Pro still hasn’t signed anything yet, and there’s no guarantee that it will come. I realize that Bass Pro owner John Morris is fishing buddies with Bob Rich, but perhaps other anchors should be pursued. The closest Bass Pro to Buffalo is in Vaughan, ON (103 miles), and Auburn, NY (126 miles).

The nearest LL Beans, by contrast, are 173 miles away in Pittsburgh, or 283 miles away in Albany. Just saying.

3 Responses to “A Hundred Million Here, a Hundred Million There…”

  1. Mike In WNY December 13, 2009 at 3:44 am #

    This is a classic case of politicians, notably Paterson and Higgins, buying votes with our money.

  2. Brad December 13, 2009 at 3:50 am #

    Amen. Personally, I would like to see them spend more of the money on the infrastructure down there. I want to see less parking lots combined with a navigable street grid, more public spaces, and canals we can paddle on in the summer and skate on in the winter. Add in some more office and residential space around HSBC to make it a “district” along the lines of Columbus, OH. Then, let the retail develop as it will.

    The Labatt pond hockey tourney is one of my favorite events, anywhere, ever. That type of thing is why I like Buffalo, and why I consistently eschew bigger, better places for this historic hockey town. Anyone else with me on that? As much as I love DC, it’s not a hockey city. Buffalo is a hockey city. Embrace it. Let’s try to be more like Ottawa and Montreal, and less like Jacksonville or Charlotte. Of course, with Benderson in charge of this project I worry that they’ll look south for inspiration, not north. If want to take my kids skating on the “canal” without having to drive 5 hours to Ottawa, can I do that at Canalside? If so, you can bet I’ll be there every winter. And I’ll take the train down there, too. Synergy.

    Well, I can dream, at least.

  3. PJ December 13, 2009 at 4:26 pm #

    These news conferences are worthless crap. Unless they have one of those stupid gold shovels or silly oversized scissors in hand the media shouldn’t bother covering these free political publicity events. No one beleives what you say at these announcements. If they do actually build something do it right. As Brad said, fix the confusing bundle of roads to nowhere and the dirt/mud parking lots and for God sakes don’t expect people to show up if on the waterfront if you have sewage floating by.

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