This morning, we received an email from a reader who wanted to point out “A Sister City’s template that Buffalo should emulate.” The crux of the email was to show Pittsburgh’s new plans for its old arena plot, and the unveiling of a bold new vision for that same site, which has been published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“Pittsburgh just announced their grand plans for the old site of their hockey arena, ‘The Igloo’, which was demolished in August 2011 (after last Penguins game in 2010). 1,420 units of housing, 810,000 square feet of office space, 190,000 square feet of retail, 50,000 square feet of entertainment, and a 220-room hotel. Looks pretty awesome if you flip through the slide show – the first image does not do it justice. The project is moving forward despite a few hiccups along the way. In Buffalo, there seem to be more hiccups than progress.”
The reader points to Buffalo’s former Memorial Auditorium (The Aud), which was demolished in 2009, upwards of a decade ago. Thirteen years before that, the Sabres’ new home opened (in 1996) as Crossroads Arena (the last Sabres game was played at The Aud that same year). That means that The Aud was vacated 23 years ago, giving local leaders plenty of time to figure out a plan to either retrofit The Aud (which never happened), or figure out a new plan for the site (which still has not happened), not to mention that it took so long for the Request for Proposal to be issued for the neighboring DL&W Terminal. While developers have made some strides with the building of HarborCenter at Canalside thanks to the Pegulas, and a couple of other ancillary developments, along with a new Children’s Museum on the way, planning has been excruciatingly slow, notes the reader and nearly everyone else in WNY, especially when you take a look at what other cities have done, and are doing.
Last August, Sinatra & Company Real Estate was awarded preferred developer status for two small parcels of the South Aud Block (parcels A2.2 and A2.3). In December 2018, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) released a North Block infrastructure RFP, but that is only for work to prepare the area for future development. Slow ‘progress’ indeed.