Steps have been taken by the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation to help speed development of the Webster Block and improve access to the Outer Harbor.
The Sabres organization has started preliminary work on a $123 million twin-ice rink and hotel complex on the Webster Block. To speed construction, the Harbor Corporation modified its Canalside plan to include the city-owned parcel.
Harbor Corporation President Thomas Dee says the step eliminates the need for another environmental study and will help maintain the Canalside theme.
"We just don't want stuff that just gets plopped in there that has a suburban look to it," Dee said.
Also at Wednesday's meeting, the Harbor Corporation Board approved a contract for transforming Ohio Street into a parkway from Michigan Avenue to Furhmann Boulevard. Dee says the project will make the link to the Outer Harbor more appealing by enhancing the neighborhood and the riverfront.
"Coming from the southtowns or trying to get to the southtowns, this will be an alternative route that people will want to use because it'll be more friendly and more inviting. And then it's going to invite pedestrian and bike traffic and just create another path to the Outer Harbor and enhance the beauty of that neighborhood," said Dee.
Funding for the $11 million reconstruction of Ohio Street is already in place. Dee says construction should begin next September and be complete in late 2014.