An $18 million expansion project at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens will begin in Fall 2020.
Officials are updating plans announced one year ago for the 40,000-square-foot expansion that includes construction of a butterfly conservatory. It is scheduled for completion in 2023.
Botanical Gardens President Dave Swarts said the attraction will remain open during construction, and that there are two reasons for that.
"One, is we need to maintain the collection that exists and number two, is we don't have the luxury of a huge endowment to close it and then keep the operation moving, so we will continue to stay open," Swarts said.
Swarts said the expansion should result in a dramatic increase in attendance at the Botanical Gardens.
"Last year, we had over 140,000, almost 142,000 visitors to the Botanical Gardens and when we look at the expansion and project down the road, we believe our attendance will grow to, conservatively, 220,000," he said.
Swarts said the expanded Gardens will have an economic impact in our community of more than $9 million a year.
One block away, Lackawanna is redeveloping its Main Street and city center where $2.5 million of New York State funding has already been allocated. Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski said the two projects combined can be "a catalyst for a cultural shift" to the south.
“Redeveloping our Main Street District is an extremely important project for the future of the City of Lackawanna," Szymanski said. "We are very excited to hear that our neighbors, the Botanical Gardens, plan to expand to meet the needs of our shared communities. These two projects will spark growth, tourism and create a greater economic impact that our neighborhoods and cities desire.”