For years we’ve talked about the potential of the DL&W Terminal. Now Congressman Higgins is asking the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) to get the ball rolling. That would entail making the property habitable for a business – such as a market, or anything else that might be interested in setting up shop along the water. Currently there are access issues, and layout issues, and Metro Rail issues. But as many issues as there are, the right investment into creating a blank canvas would come back to Buffalo’s economy in giant measures.
The development-ready action would entail a Metro Rail station to set up on the first floor, in order to service the business(s) on the upper floor. Transit-oriented development is prime right now, with everything happening on Main Street, at Canalside, along the Buffalo River, etc.
“Investments in the Buffalo River have moved this waterway from ecologically dead to an economic driver and public destination point,” said Higgins. “Waterfront energy is at a new high but in order to keep the momentum we must find a way to connect the waterfront destination dots and create new destination points with the continued expansion and preservation of public access along the water’s edge.”
The terminal, which sits vacant for the most part, boasts 75,000 square feet of space, and over 50,000 square feet of outdoor deck*. Talk about injecting life into the Inner Harbor. The potential to connect the DL&W to the arena and HarborCenter is also exciting.
Along with an investment into DL&W preparation, Higgins is also calling for connectivity with Kelly Island – home to RiverWorks. A proposed Kelly Island Trail (around Kelly Island) would link Silo City, points along Ohio Street and the Buffalo River, and the Old First Ward. A trail already runs behind the DL&W Terminal, which would be the terminus for the project. This is one of the biggest no brainers to date – especially with talks of Metro Rail extensions and a new Buffalo Bills stadium. The trail would also help to link the Inner Harbor to the Outer Harbor. It would also open the doors to a number of development opportunities on the island – Ellicott Development is a new player on the scene.
Higgins acknowledges that both the DL&W Terminal project and the Kelly Island Trail would each cost about $10 million. In a press statement, Higgins suggested that the ECHDC redirect funds that were previously earmarked for parking structures, which he feels should be self financing on their own. NYPA funding ($30 million) should not be used for parking ramps that would not generate the type of foot traffic that we should expect, especially if we are talking extensively about the future of the Metro Rail.
If the ECHDC was to ask the public what their choice was between A (Higgins’ suggestion) and B (parking ramps), I bet that we would have our answer pretty quick.
*74,875 square feet under cover and 57,662 square feet outdoor space