Architect of waterfront's rebirth retiring

May 16, 2018

The man who has led the redevelopment of Buffalo's waterfront is calling it a career. The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation has announced its president, Tom Dee, will retire June 29.

As a subsidiary of Empire State Development, the ECHDC is tasked with revitalizing Buffalo’s Inner and Outer Harbor areas and restoring economic growth to Western New York. The state says under Dee’s leadership, "the once-blighted rust belt waterfront was transformed into the new front door of Buffalo," garnering national and international attention.

“My time spent at ECHDC has been the most challenging and most rewarding period of my life,” said Dee. “I believe that history will judge that the transformation of Buffalo’s waterfront has exceeded all expectations and will prove to be a major turning point in our city’s rich history. I am proud to have made such a significant contribution to my hometown.”

Dee was tapped to lead the ECHDC in 2009 after 28 years at the CannonDesign architecture firm. Today, the state says an estimated 1.5 million visit Canalside and 250,000 people visit the Outer Harbor each year.

“Before Tom took on the role of president of ECHDC, the people of Buffalo could not even imagine the potential of their waterfront – but Tom did and he worked tirelessly to champion that waterfront, transforming it into a world-class tourism destination," said ECHDC Chair Robert Gioia. "On behalf of the millions of people who will continue to enjoy our waterfront, we say ‘Thank you, Tom!’"

In announcing his retirement, Dee acknowledged "there is still a lot of work to be done." No replacement has been named, but Dee said he is committed to a "full and proper transition" for his successor.