Outer Harbor redevelopment plan takes turn, goes more green

Sep 17, 2015

Officials at the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation say the people have spoken, and it will show in an updated plan for redeveloping Buffalo's Outer Harbor.

Board members have accepted an updated 'blueprint' which breaks away from previous ideas including dense residential neighborhoods, an ampitheater and beach, and instead leaves most of it open. Under the new plan, about 80 percent of the land along the Outer Harbor now owned by the ECHDC will zoned as open greenspace, while the rest will be available to light development.

Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation chair Robert Gioia, left, looks over notes and prepares to make remarks at the start of Wednesday's board meeting. At right is ECHDC president Thomas Dee.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Why the change? Board members say it's what the people wanted, and made loud and clear in their feedback.

"People want to walk along and hike and bike, and power bike along the Outer Harbor," said ECHDC Chair Robert Gioia. "There will also be opportunities for development, whether it be residential, whether it be retail, or whether it be light industrials."

Past proposals for the Outer Harbor have included everything from housing to a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills. ECHDC board members insist this change in direction is not due to a lack of funds nor due to a lack of business interest in the Outer Harbor. They add that this approach has proven successful elsewhere along Buffalo's waterfront.

"We saw the success of the Inner Harbor with some of the lighter, quicker, cheaper strategies," said Buffalo mayor and ECHDC board member Byron Brown. "We thought that some of those strategies, in the short term, initially could be employed at the Outer Harbor as well."

You can review the updated Outer Harbor 'blueprint' by clicking on this link.