The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) announced significant upgrades to the Buffalo Outer Harbor Monday, making way for turning the space into more of a recreational venue. They also disclosed that a Rich Products Subsidiary, “B.R. Guest Ltd.”, was selected in a competitive bidding process to manage events for a revitalized Outer Harbor area commencing in 2016.
Among some of the enhancements planned are mountain bike and cross-country ski trails, an osprey nesting platform at Times Beach, public viewing areas adjacent to the Bell Slip, a visitor center, adult games area, beer garden and a host of pedestrian and bicycle amenities (bike racks, Adirondack chairs, etc.). A complete bicycle path is to be added along Terminals A & B, completing the southern end of the Greenbelt loop (the northern end was completed this past July).
A 6-acre mountain-bike course bounded by Bell Slip, Lake Erie, and Fuhrman Boulevard is a major part of the proposed design. This course will consist of a series of unpaved trails, each less than five miles in length, and a “pump track” to take advantage of the rolling terrain.
An 8-acre site at Michigan Pier will be designated as “multi-use flex space”, and will accommodate the Adult Playground, Workout Area, Ropes Course, foot/bicycle paths, beach, deck, seasonal kiosks, Beer Garden area and Adult Games Zone (bocce, volleyball, etc.).
The anticipated $5M cost – $900K of which is earmarked for environmental remediation – will be borne by New York’s “Buffalo Billion” program. The improvements are scheduled to be implemented over a two-year timetable and some form of public consultation has been promised. ECHDC is clearly hoping the success of the Canalside transformation can be replicated at the Outer Harbor by drawing from the same playbook.
B. R. Guest Ltd is planning on hosting a variety of events including concerts, festivals, and a variety of outdoor-themed events, along with concessions and space rentals. ECHDC went out of their way to highlight the success B.R. Guest has had in organizing events at Bison games as being one of the deciding factors on their selection over two other competing bidders. Rich Products and B.R. Guest, who have both been in the events business for over 30 years, currently operate three minor league baseball teams including the Bisons and Coca-Cola field.
In return for these event management services, B.R. Guest will pay a base rent of $12,000 per annum to the ECHDC, along with 20% of all revenues from operations.
Canalside’s free concert series, a highly popular element of of summer programming this year, will continue to be located at Canalside for the 2016 season. There had been concern that the City was considering moving the concerts at the behest of nearby Marine Drive residents, who had previously complained about noise and rowdy behavior.