Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced three new projects to expand Buffalo’s waterfront and build on the region’s community and economic growth in order to attract more visitors and offer new recreational and cultural opportunities for residents. Approximately $24 million will improve water access, highlight Western New York’s rich history, and support the continued growth of the area’s tourism sector, which generated more than $3 billion in direct visitor spending in 2017.
The projects and investments include:
• North Aud Block: a $10 million investment to complete this historic street grid and set the site for future development of the North Aud Block;
• 1825 Packet Boat: a $4 million commitment to construct a new facility to build a replica 1825 packet boat at Canalside; and
• Buffalo Blueway: a $10 million investment to create a network of public access points along the waterways of Buffalo.
“The success of Buffalo’s waterfront is evident year-round, with hundreds of thousands of visitors experiencing Canalside and enjoying local restaurants and businesses in the surrounding area,” Governor Cuomo said. “These new projects will leverage Buffalo’s natural beauty, tap into the rich culture and history the region has to offer, and expand opportunities for residents and visitors to access the Historic Erie Canal for generations to come.”
$10 Million for the North Aud Block
The Governor announced a minimum of $10 million has been committed to support the transformation of the North Aud Block – a two-acre parcel where Memorial Auditorium once stood. Infrastructure planning, design and construction of the North Aud Block will be supported under the Canalside General Project Plan. The North Aud Block transformation supports ongoing efforts to evoke the site’s Erie Canal history and re-establish the area as a downtown neighborhood.
The project plan aims to reintroduce elements of the historic street pattern that once traversed the block and the Erie Canal. The planning and engineering phase will include walkable streets and underground infrastructure and services, such as parking, which would help facilitate a series of future development and service a series of future development parcels that will later be competitively solicited for development. The project will progressively realize historically-inspired and pedestrian-oriented infill development on the block. An open, competitive Request for Proposals for design contract will go out this fall. A period of planning, public review, and final engineering will take place, followed by construction.
Replica 1825 Packet Boat Built at Canalside
A $4 million investment announced by the Governor will allow for construction of the “Longshed,” a 4,000-square-foot, year-round facility that the replica vessel will be built in. Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, a subsidiary of Empire State Development, and Buffalo Maritime Center will collaborate to create the replica of Governor DeWitt Clinton’s 1825 Erie Canal packet boat, and construct the vessel at Canalside. Once complete, the packet boat will be berthed in the Commercial Slip, and the Buffalo Maritime Center will develop a full range of tourism opportunities and programming including rides, tours, dinners, and lectures. It is also expected to tour sections of the Canal system once a year.
The Longshed would appear as a wooden barn structure, emulating what was there when the Erie Canal was being built (i.e., evoking the former Newman & Scovill Groceries and Ship Chandlers store that was once there). It will be located on the dock corner of Prime and Lloyd (across Commercial Slip from the Naval Park building).
The finished building will be flexible space to support year-round occupancy and allow maximum visitation and educational programming, including opportunities related to the site’s history. Learn more here.
The Governor also announced $10 million in Buffalo Billion 2 funds to establish a network of public access points along the region’s waterways, a project spearheaded by Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper. Dubbed the “Buffalo Blueway,” this extensive project will enhance water access and strategically connect residents and visitors to Buffalo-area cultural institutions, tourist attractions, greenway and bicycle corridors, and other unique businesses and locations. The Blueway will serve the needs of paddlers, recreational watercraft, local anglers, tourists, and other waterfront activities.
Along with constructing new access points and enhancing existing sites, the project will add wayfinding and public art installations to guide and attract visitors. The Blueway will be promoted through a coordinated marketing program, a Blueway Trail guide, interactive map, and other digital applications.
The following projects have been proposed as part of the Buffalo Blueway:
• RiverWorks – An existing site where enhancements are partially completed. A new, universally accessible floating dock has been installed. Additional enhancements also planned include a Blueway marker, informational signage, possible paddle craft storage, or other amenities to be installed in Fall 2018 or Spring 2019.
• NYSDEC Ohio Street Boat Launch and Buffalo Scholastic Rowing Association – These two adjacent sites will be redesigned to create a newly improved and enhanced access point to the water. Scale and scope to be determined in 2019 with landowner and community input. Design expected to commence in 2018 with targeted construction in 2019.
• Union Ship Canal – An existing site proposed to benefit from site enhancements including, but not limited to, a Blueway marker, informational signage, possible paddle craft storage, or other amenities to be installed in Fall 2018 or Spring 2019. This site may also include parking lot and transportation infrastructure improvements during the 2019 construction season.
• Red Jacket Park – Potential new water access site, scale and scope to be determined by Erie County in 2019 with community input. Coordinating efforts with Erie County as part of comprehensive park improvements. Design targeted for mid-2019, construction targeted for 2020.
• Buffalo Color – Potential new water access site. Large-scale project will commence design in 2018 with targeted construction in 2019.
• Mungovan Park – Potential new water access site, scale and scope to be determined by the City of Buffalo and surrounding community. Design targeted to commence in 2019, construction targeted for 2020.
• Seneca Bluffs – Potential new water access site, scale and scope to be determined by Erie County in 2019 with community input. Coordinating efforts with Erie County as part of comprehensive park improvements. Design targeted to commence in 2019, construction targeted for 2020.
• LaSalle Park – Potential new water access site, scale and scope to be determined in 2019 with community input. Coordinating efforts with City of Buffalo and dependent upon comprehensive park rehabilitation. Planning begins Fall 2018, design targeted for 2019, construction currently targeted for 2020-2021.
• Erie Basin Marina, Canalside, Wilkenson Point, Mutual Riverfront Park and Harlem Road Boat Launch – Existing sites proposed to benefit from enhancements including, but not limited to, a Blueway marker, informational signage, possible paddle craft storage, or other amenities to be installed in Fall 2018 or Spring 2019.
Congressman Brian Higgins said, “Working with Governor Cuomo, in 2013 we were able to create Buffalo Harbor State Park, transforming long-neglected, authority-controlled, waterfront property on the Outer Harbor into the first New York State Park in the City of Buffalo thanks to a $15 million State commitment. This new $24 million investment by the State is truly an incredible step forward in building tangible progress at interconnected points along our waterfront and maintaining the momentum that is breathing new life into our City.”