Tag Archives: Buffalo Waterfront

Canal Side

21 Oct

There was a lengthy public hearing yesterday regarding the Canal Side project. Here is a fly-through video that they generated to show off what the plan du jour is:

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Look, it looks great. Then again, everything that’s been proposed up until now has looked pretty great, too. I have no idea if we’ll ever see something that looks like that in Buffalo, and I can only hope that people will go to it when it’s finally done.

I want to go to there.

I watched coverage of the hearing on channels 2 and 4, and was amazed that the only opposition mentioned in their reports revolved around a parking garage set to be built not far from Marine Drive. Yay parking!

Obviously, parking would be required for a project of this size. Naturally, it’s better to have a nicely designed parking ramp than more surface lots.

Build it, please. KTHXBAI.

Canalside, A Dime a Dozen

26 Sep

Business travels just took me from Vegas to Northwest Florida. Specifically, the town of Destin in the Fort Walton Beach-Crestview-Destin MSA, population 188K.

I used to live in this part of Florida, and hadn’t been back in seven years. In those seven years, a shorter length of time than we’ve been arguing here in Buffalo about what to do at the Erie Canal Harbor, Destin has managed to build three complexes the size of Canalside, including:

Destin Commons

Destin Commons, and

Harborwalk Village

Harborwalk Village. Its time we admit that building Canalside will not make us a distinctive destination. It will only bring us up to date with the rest of the country, including podunk towns of less than 200,000 people in the redneck part of Florida. Can we just build it already? Just sayin.

Buffalo Harbor Bridge

21 Sep

When I got this press release, my reaction was, “whoa”.

Today at 11am, Congressman Brian Higgins, Mayor Byron Brown, and ECHDC representatives will announce an application for a grant to build a Buffalo Harbor Bridge.

Specifically, they will be applying for $90 million in federal transportation funds under the “TIGER” (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) fund to help construct a bridge connecting downtown Buffalo with the outer harbor.  The non-Skyway option.
TIGER is a $1.5 billion special category of stimulus funding for high-profile projects with a large, demonstrable, stimulative impact.

The press conference today will be at the foot of Main Street, in the NFTA Parking Lot, next to the DL&W site, behind HSBC Arena.  This is part of the overall Canal Side project, but also improving access to the outer harbor makes development easier and may be phase one in ultimate Skyway removal.

Kayaking in Downtown Buffalo

14 Sep

For my wife’s birthday, I took her kayaking. We are semi-experienced kayakers, but had never done the Erie Canal Harbor and associated waterways. So we rented two boats from Jason Schwinger at BFLO Harbor Kayak, and went exploring. Warm sunshine, hardly any wind, and my best friend. Perfect.

Ship Canal

First we paddled the length of the Ship Canal. If it weren’t for a berm in the way at the end of the canal, it would connect to Tifft Nature Preserve. That means as the canal narrows, the wildlife comes in. We saw Double-Crested Cormorants, Kingfishers, and a stately Great Blue Heron flapped out ahead of us. All along, I was struck by how clean the water and surrounds were. Yes, its a ship canal surrounded by rusting grain elevators. And yes, there is the odd mattress and tire still on the bank. But the water itself was free of the debris, particulates, and odor that characterize most Great lakes urban coasts. Whether this is a result of Riverkeeper’s efforts or a general environmental ethos taking root, I don’t know. But it made the trip far more pleasant than some I have been on in Milwaukee or other places in NY.

Down and back on the Ship Canal only took part of the afternoon, so we took a trip down the Buffalo River, past the DL&W Terminal, under the Michigan Ave lift bridge, and towards Ohio Street.

Buffalo River

I have driven past the grain elevators plenty of times, and seen lots of pictures of grain elevators from the water, but actually being there, in the kayak, under their crumbling weight, is different. They are more magnificent in person.

After our trip we stopped and chatted with Jason at the boat launch, while some obnoxious Birfers protested next door. Jason and I first met at Buffalo Homecoming meetings, and I was curious to see how business was. I told him he stole my idea to rent kayaks on the water. His response? “Lot’s of people say that.” If enough people think its a good idea, he must be on to something. He says business is good, Buffalo Place has been supportive, and he hopes to do more next year. Good news for a local entrepreneur with a good business in a good location. Jason is renting kayaks through October 11th – stop on by and rent one in this last gasp of summer.

Fixing the Headline

16 Jun

Original here.

Definitely, let’s continue to decide on things like this in an ad-hoc manner without any sort of overall plan. That’s a recipe for win.

The Waterfront

3 Jun

Firstly, let me congratulate the Waterline restaurant, which has replaced a somewhat smelly deli at the Waterfront Village. I had a really great grilled turkey & brie sandwich yesterday (which clearly solidifies my reputation as an effete French librul), which came with a mesclun salad. It beats the hell out of iceberg and Wonder Bread.

Secondly, given the ubiquitous red brick, mostly mid-80s architecture, and ample parking facilities scattered haphazardly throughout Buffalo’s marina basin area, you could put up just about any old damn thing and it wouldn’t be in or out of place down there.

As Sybil Fawlty might say, I’ve seen more intelligent things swimming at the bottom of ponds. I’ve seen better organized things running ’round farm yards with their heads cut off.

Some Bad News Topped with Utter Insanity

3 Mar

1. The Woodlawn Row Houses, blogged about by David Torke, are available again. A hoped-for redevelopment of them has fallen through.

2. The governor went on WBEN and basically said what everyone’s already pretty much thinking – that Bass Pro + Buffal looks worse and worse by the day. Despite Jordan Levy’s protestations to the contrary, Bass Pro isn’t coming to Buffalo. If it was, it would have executed a legally binding agreement to do so. In fact, it might have done so sometime after January 2004, when then-Governor George Pataki first announced that Bass Pro was “negotiating” to come to Buffalo. Five years later, and we’re literally no further along than we were then.

3. As the Statler officially enters receivership, consider this astonishing line from the Business First article:

The receivership does not include a 44-foot luxury yacht acquired by BSC Development’s owner, Bashar Issa, that remains stored in Western New York.

Remember the “Statler on the Sea?” I don’t know how easy it would be to sell that in this economy, but for God’s sake, he still owns it?

Anyhow, in keeping with the theme of money problems, I present to you Neil writing a letter to his bank manager:

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Shorter Canalside Scoping Session

26 Feb

Fewer waterfalls, more museums, outraged preservationists, retail is bad, and Bass Pro hasn’t signed shit yet.

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Other than that, it’s full steam ahead!

ECHDC Canalside Public Hearing 2/25/09

26 Feb

Last night at Buffalo’s Waterfront School, the New York State Urban Development Corporation (ESDC), as Lead Agency on behalf of its subsidiary corporation, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) held a scoping hearing in preparation of the General Environmental Impact Study (GEIS) for the Canalside Project.

Once the public scoping period is complete, NY ESD will publish the Draft GEIS in the summer of 2009 with more public hearings to follow.  Once that process is complete, the Final GEIS will be published and work can begin, likely in late 2009 or early 2010.  That timeline assumes this project sails through the process and there are no legal challenges or negative impacts found.

Damn, that was a mouthful.

If you’d like to read the Draft Scoping Document, click here.

This is the first step in the process of getting the project ready for construction. If you want a refresher on what the Canalside project looks like, I’ll direct you to this post from December.

My analysis after that press conference is summed up as follows:

What I’d like to talk about is that this whole presentation was a steaming pile of horseshit.  It’s a pie in the sky conceptualization of what the ECHDC would like to do with a plot of land in Buffalo.  A plot of land, mind you, that already has an approved master plan that was codified into law in 2004.

Photos of the current design:

Last night, we heard from several people who are concerned that the original 2004 master plan is being ignored and they feel the design is antithetical to a cultural tourist destination on the waterfront.

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The crowd seemed to rally around the idea that the ECHDC needs to be more senstitive to the historic district of the waterfront.  There was also a lot of support from the community that there needs to be a fallback option in the event that Bass Pro does not sign a contract to place a store in the Canalside District.  As of now, if Bass Pro does not eventually sign on the dotted line, we have no alternative.

Angelo Coniglio has an alternative plan that could be incorporated, but to date he has had little success getting traction on the idea.

Oh, if you didn’t catch my allusion to it, Bass Pro has still not signed any formal agreement to place a store on Buffalo’s Waterfront.  Eleven years and counting on that one…

The Richardson Complex

27 Jan

Yesterday’s idea + rendering = not much du jour involved a hotel proposal for the haunted former insane asylum known as the Richardson complex.

The Buffalo Ruse has a much better idea, and has enlisted a satirical Jim Pitts to provide the idea: the first “Romanesque Wal*Mart”.

Pitts, sensitive to the firestorm of criticism that erupted over his last proposal “The Jim Pitts’ Fast Food Waterfront Experience,” spared no adjectives in describing his latest project. “The esteemed councilmen and women who are seated so intelligently before me tonight would have to be crazier than scat-house rats not to leap at this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Pitts, speaking with Mayor Byron Brown at his side. “You’re talking about one of America’s largest corporations, one with the best name-brand recognition in the world, taking over a dilapidated, dumpy dungeon of dampness and transforming it into a stellar center that will superbly serve the needs of shoppers from South Buffalo to Sloan.”

Architectural sticklers who note that the Richardson is gothic, rather than romanesque, are missing the joke.