We all know that when it comes to development, there is a healthy list pf projects that might never see the light of day. Some are big, like Bass Pro or the Elmwood/Forest Hotel. Others are smaller, like filling a couple of the storefronts on Elmwood that are ALWAYS empty. Or getting a coffee shop at the Commercial Slip. Then there are the ones that fall in-between… they’re not super hi-profile like Bass Pro, but they add a tremendous amount to the overall quality of life of our citizens. One such project, the Upper West Arts Center, has finally made it to the big time (see back story). Just when many of us were wondering if the project would ever cross the finish line, Assemblyman Sam Hoyt has announced that a $400,000 grant from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund has surfaced.
It seems like years that we’ve been waiting for this news. Actually, it has been years – I first wrote about the arts center in May of ’05. Thankfully, the church recently secured a spot on the list of New York State and Federal Registers Of Historic Places. I would imagine that designation greatly helped wrangle in the last bit of funding needed to complete the project. And we all know how valuable the arts are to our city. Compound that aspect with a spectacular church adoptive reuse, and we have a real win-win for the West Side. Neal Radice of Alleyway Theatre should be commended for this hard fought victory. When first announced, project supporters listed amenities that included a 600 seat, acoustically pristine concert hall, a fully operational 2,300 pipe organ, a 99-seat drama theatre and a myriad gallery and visual art spaces. I’m crossing my fingers that all of those features are still in the plan.
I’d say that this news, combined with the recent successes of the Burchfield-Penney Art Center and Artspace, gives us plenty more reasons to celebrate the arts in Buffalo… as if we didn’t have enough to celebrate already!