Plans are in the works that will change the look of Canalside. The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation has approved what it's calling the "Interpretative Structures Project."
The $12 million project includes two new buildings that will be located along the Commercial Slip. ECHDC President Tom Dee says, the Pavilion and the Union Block building both provide what the public has been calling for—permanent restrooms and enclosed space to get out of the elements.
"The other thing that's important with both of these buildings, we constantly hear back from the public, and that is to pay homage to history. So while we're down at the Commercial Slip, while we're at Canalside, there's a lot of history that can be told. We all know that, we all talk about it, and recognize that this is the western terminus of the Erie Canal," Dee said.
The Pavilion, at the corner of the Commercial Slip and the Central Wharf, is based on historic pictures, and Dee says, it could be used for concessions, seasonal markets and to give visitors a new vantage point.
"We can have events. We can have programming. Building an outdoor deck like this allows our customers to come up and see the water at an elevated view which we know is really exciting," Dee said.
Across the Commercial Slip, next to the Naval Museum, the historic looking four-story Union Block building will include an information center and an open deck.
"And we like that because a lot of places throughout the country have roof-decks that are very popular. And this roof-deck looks over the water looks over Canalside," Dee said.
Both building sites are owned by the City of Buffalo. Mayor Byron Brown, a nonvoting ECHDC board member says, discussions about leasing or transferring the parcels to the state are ongoing. But Brown says, he thinks the project will be good for Canalside.
"We want this to be a major attraction not only in Buffalo and Western New York but in the state of New York. And we want to attract people from across the nation and internationally to Canalside," Brown said.
A public hearing is set for January 4 at the Central Library downtown. If all goes according to plan, Dee says, construction could start in September and be complete by May 2019.