The president of Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation says visitors to Buffalo's Canalside will soon see noticeable progress in the construction of a highly-anticipated venue.
The ECHDC held a brief meeting Monday morning, during which president Thomas Dee provided a brief update on progress of two projects, the Explore & More Children's Museum and the Herschell Carousel.
Explore & More, which will eventually move from its existing space in East Aurora to Buffalo's waterfront, is expected to open its new museum in the second half of 2018. For months, the site has been fenced in and construction vehicles could be seen on the grounds. Most of the work has been on the ground or basement levels. Dee says within a week or so, the first steel will be erected as the building itself takes shape.
"Once we had a shovel in the ground, people would get excited. But you have that lull where everything is underground and people don't really get excited until they see real value," Dee said. "Steel goes up and it's going to change the perception on everything. That'll happen in the very immediate future. I can't wait."
Canalside is preparing to transition from its summer mode into its winter mode. The canals will soon be converted for their seasonal use as a skating and curling rink. Dee says during the transitional period, the construction itself might be the attraction.
In the meantime, planners have not yet finalized a site where a restored vintage Herschell Carrousel will be located. Dee explained that the ECHDC is currently working with architecture firm Hamilton Houston Lownie to develop interpretive structures to tie back into the neighborhood's history.
"As we're working with those structures, it ties into where the carousel fits," Dee said. "That's why this process is a little bit slower than it might ordinarily be. But we're working on a pavilion building and try to create and wrap history around the stuff that's down at the site."
The concert stage and its current location factor in the planning process but Dee says the intent is to eventually move that stage.