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Downtown Stadium Proposed For Buffalo Bills – Images and Presentation

23 Oct

The Greater Buffalo Sports and Entertainment Center (GBSEC) is envisioned as a multi-purpose, multi-use/mixed-use commercial facility sited on a 100(+) acre vacant waterfront site in the City of Buffalo.  The estimated project cost is $ 1.4 billion and will take an estimated 5 years for build-out once funding is secured. 

The Buffalo Outer Harbor site is part of a public land parcel of approximately 400 total acres, at present, owned by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA).  In the recent past the NFTA has stated that it wishes to divest itself of the property.  In September 2012 the NFTA solicited statements of interest or proposals from the City of Buffalo and other public entities in furtherance of its stated desire for divestiture.

GBSEC proposes to build on site a 70,000 (+) seat, 1.6 million square foot, retractable roof stadium, which will also function as a convention-conference center and provide an attractive, state-of-the-art home for an NFL franchise  – as well as serving as a multisport and entertainment venue.

GBSEC, LLC has retained HKS Design, Inc., a global leader in design and project management of sports and entertainment venues.  HKS has begun preliminary site and building design for a space that can be configured to breakdown into smaller, coherent sub-spaces suitable for conventions and other types of sporting & entertainment events on a multi-season basis.  HKS is currently working on exciting new projects involving professional sports in Oakland, CA and for the Minnesota Vikings.  Most recently, they have delivered landmark venues such as: Yankee Stadium, Dallas Cowboys Stadium and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.  HKS has made 4 visits to Buffalo for research and preliminary site determination and suitability purposes and has prepared a preliminary master site plan presentation.

Preliminary plans are to build the signature main anchor stadium structure and additional site construction will include a high capacity hotel, covered & surface parking on site for up to 5000 vehicles.  Potentially, other mixed-use commercial structures may be included in the site plan, either for first stage construction, or, for Stage II construction.

GBSEC has invited the Strong Museum of Rochester, NY, to consider participation in this project and they have submitted a positive response with specific areas of interest they would consider developing.  At it’s Rochester site, The Strong generates roughly 600,000 regional visitors per year; slightly more than the Buffalo Bills draw for sell-out attendance at home games.

Attached are the files used in the presentation of the project to the Buffalo Common Council’s Community Development committee on October 23rd, 2012.

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Explore ‘n More Should Be At Canalside

14 Mar

When Chris Ostrander sharply criticizes the placemaking fraud that has has supplanted top-down planning with a bottom-up feelings-based lack of planning, he is exactly correct. Deck chairs, hot dog shacks, and happy feelings aren’t going to organically develop the inner harbor, and I’ve written before that all we’ve done is nominally exchange a political/business elite planning scheme for a cultural elite planning scheme. 

 I disagree, however, with Ostrander’s criticism of the proposed Children’s Museum. Such a museum will involve an outlay of public money for construction, and likely will be operated by a well-respected current operator of a children’s museum facility – Explore and More – that is in deep need of a new facility. Ostrander writes: 

I’m condemning the thought of trading the space previously reserved for Bass Pro for a children’s museum. My problem with Bass Pro was that the store wouldn’t capture an entire audience nor cohesively bring the neighborhood together. Now the approach is to use the plan with the least amount of risk. Literally. This plan is being adopted because there is little, to no risk involved. Instead of taking a major step and hitting a home run, Buffalo will be forced to accept a sacrifice bunt, just to advance the runners.

Ostrander misapprehends the size and scope of the Children’s Museum, and what is to happen with the Aud Block and the “space previously reserved for Bass Pro”. 

Regardless of the solar carousel vs. Bass Pro argument, Canalside needs to be a 4-seasons, all-ages place to go. I’m not a fan of the whole “story of Buffalo” programming BS that’s suffused the whole project, but Ostrander is misstating the extent of the Children’s Museum in his piece. 

The image above is a rendering of the current plan for the Aud Block; it isn’t going to be replaced with another huge building fitting its footprint.  What was once the Aud will be chopped up into smaller parcels, footpaths, and canal-shaped reflecting pools. The Children’s Museum – pretty much the only cultural programming at Canalside that I think isn’t a horrible joke – will only take up a small portion of that location, and that’s ok. 

Turning the “story of Buffalo” into a 4D motion ride and costumed people strolling around what should be a shopping & entertainment district is what deserves criticism. Moving Explore ‘n More to the Inner Harbor is one of the better ideas to have come from all of this idiotic turmoil. 

 

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ECHDC Food Market Survey

30 Jan

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation is asking for the public’s input concerning restaurant and food market opinions and decisions.  I have an email in to ask, but take a look, fill it out, and let me know what you think it’s all about. 

I think it’s part of the planning for a proposed food market at Canal Side, and also possibly to prioritize what sort of restaurant concessions are approved or pursued. This way, when Goldman et al. complain about what ends up there, the Authority can point to the survey and argue that they sought and received public input, and avoid controversy over who speaks for whom. 

Canalside & a Sense of Tacky Place

10 Jan

Both Chris and I have written extensively over the past several years about what’s going on at the Inner Harbor. (Unfortunately, links will have to wait).

In late 2010, the planning for Canalside was co-opted by a crowdsourcing process that provided all of the ills of central planning with none of the decision-making efficiency. After spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a facile “placemaking” exercise by uncredentialed huckster Fred Kent of the Partnership for Public Spaces, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation retained consultants to help flesh out the historical/cultural aspects of the Canalside project.

While the district had historically been a wetter, be-bricked version of Mos Eisley, the “history” that will be reproduced at Canalside was always going to be sanitized through contemporary biases.  While Chris and I advocated for the notion of giving people things to do and see, we were vilified for our suburban-colored glasses and our cultural, architectural, and artistic ignorance.

We merely traded a political planning elite for a cultural planning elite.

And the cultural elite’s Cultural Masterplan is out & embedded below.

Initially, Canalside will feature a Children’s Museum, which will fill a gaping hole in our city – one that Explore & More temporarily filled by bringing certain exhibits to a tent at Canalside during the temperate months. It was like the #Occupy version of a children’s museum. But another feature is something Mark Goldman personally lobbied for incessantly – a “solar powered carousel”, and an interpretive “how Buffalo fed America” look back at the times before the St. Lawrence Seaway and interstate network.

When it comes to the historical significance of the canal terminus, there’s a fine line between education and nostalgia porn.

Longer term, the plan is in deep Niagara Falls fail territory with a “4D theater production” depicting a balloon ride, which will “immerse visitors in a ‘you are there’ journey, with 4D effects such as falling snow, wind gusts, rumbling seats, scents, surround sound…”  The cost of re-making the “MOM” ride at Massachusetts’ Jordan’s Furniture and the 4D rides in the Falls will be $25 million, plus operating costs of about $1.3 – 1.7 million per year.

$25 million to take something that was supposed to be “authentic” and give one a “sense of place” and turn it into sideshow tack and a snack shack. This entire placemaking exercise has been an absolute crock of crowdsourcing nonsense that has let dozens of unelected people with tiny constituencies promote their personal biases and prejudices in the name of the entire community.

They sold us on “authentic”, and “lighter, quicker, cheaper”. We’re getting fake, phony tack. Where’s the sense of place?

Does this follow the 2004 Master Plan?

Authenticity?

Sense of Place if Buffalo is Jurassic Park

 

CanalSide Cultural Masterplan Final Report

A presentation to accompany the report is here:

Cultural Master Plan Presentation(function() { var scribd = document.createElement(“script”); scribd.type = “text/javascript”; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = “http://www.scribd.com/javascripts/embed_code/inject.js”; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();

On a side note, renderings of a summertime and wintertime Aud block at Canalside look quite inviting. Let’s stick to this:

Artist Rendering of Aud Block in Summer with Public Canals

Artist Rendering of Aud Block in Winter with Public Canals


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