For Immediate Release:
Buffalo Outer Harbor’s Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper Projects
The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) Board of Directors met today and approved a $1.56 million contract with Trowbridge Wolf Michaels Landscape Architects LLP (TWLA) for architectural and engineer services on the Outer Harbor that will enhance access and facilitate greater public use and enjoyment of Buffalo’s waterfront. TWLA, a New York State certified women-owned business enterprise (WBE), will complete detailed environmental studies, structural and building surveys and architectural and engineering design services in order to prepare a construction bid package that is expected in 2017.
“The improvements that TWLA will be planning build on prior incremental improvements at the Outer Harbor using the Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper approach,” said ECHDC President Robert Gioia. “The project will fill in existing access gaps, expand public usage of our waterfront and provide additional activities that will increase visitation to the Outer Harbor.”
In November 2015, the ECHDC Board approved the Buffalo Outer Harbor Access & Activation Civic Project and today’s approval marks the first steps toward making this project a reality. The project is funded with $5 million from the Buffalo Billion initiative. It will consist of several capital improvements and investments which will allow for increased public access and activation of the Outer Harbor:
TWLA’s team also includes Ravi Engineering and Land Surveying (Minority Business Enterprise), WSP/Parsons Brinkerhoff, the LiRo Group, Biohabitats, Touloukian&Touloukian, and RJR Engineering (Service Disabled Veteran Owned and Small Business). TWLA is well suited for this project, having completed the “nodal improvements” along Fuhrmann Boulevard and the recent improvements at Buffalo Harbor State Park. In addition to TWLA’s experience, nearly all sub-consultants on the team have worked on projects for ECHDC and/or the New York Power Authority (NYPA) along Buffalo’s waterfront.
The goals/objectives of the project are directly connected with ECHDC’s guiding principles, including improving seasonal, recreational and tourist access, use and enjoyment of the Outer Harbor; enhancing pedestrian and bicycle access along the Outer Harbor, as well as connecting segments of the existing regional trails network along the Lake Erie waterfront; and minimize adverse impacts on communities and the environment by avoiding an inequitable distribution of impacts and maintaining neighborhood and community cohesion.
The ECHDC Board also authorized the acquisition of 14.2 acres of land on the Outer Harbor owned by the New York Power Authority (NYPA). The property includes the Connecting Terminal grain elevator that is lighted by ECHDC as an attraction, the Queen City Bike Ferry landing and a recreation marina that is operated by a private entity, Brand–On First Buffalo Marina, Inc. under contract with NYPA. As NYPA no longer has use for the property, the transfer will place ownership of the property in control of the agency responsible for waterfront development and will further bolster ECHDC’s efforts to revitalize the Inner and Outer Harbors. Also, as ECHDC already has a presence on the property via permits with NYPA, namely to operate the bike ferry stop and illumination of the Connecting Terminal grain elevator, ownership of the site will make it easier for ECHDC to operate and maintain its current facilities. ECHDC will acquire the property from NYPA for $1. Also as part of the transaction, ECHDC will accept assignment of the Brand-On agreement and will also acquire the equipment owned by NYPA for $1 that is used by Brand-On for operation of the site. Currently, the Brand-On agreement expires in February 2017. It is expected that ECHDC will issue a request for proposals seeking an operator to continue the operations and maintenance of the property in accordance with NYPA’s past practices.
“NYPA has played an integral role in the transformation of the Outer Harbor and today’s vote affirms our commitment to ensure it becomes one of the jewels of the Queen City,” said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. “We also expect that this land transfer will allow for the uninterrupted operation of the First Buffalo Marina, at a time when more recreational boats are coming downtown.”
Since ECHDC took possession of 340 acres on the Outer Harbor from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) in May 2014, there has been a dramatic transformation of the parcel. The improvements include:
In two short years since taking possession of the Outer Harbor, ECHDC has made dramatic improvements, creating a destination that more than 250,000 people enjoyed this summer.
About Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation
As a subsidiary of Empire State Development, the state’s chief economic development agency, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation supports and promotes the creation of infrastructure and public activities at Canalside, the Ohio Street corridor and the Outer Harbor that is attracting critical mass, private investment and enhance the enjoyment of the waterfront for residents and tourists in Western New York. Its vision is to revitalize Western New York’s waterfront and restore economic growth to Buffalo based on the region’s legacy of pride, urban significance and natural beauty. For more information on ECHDC, visit www.eriecanalharbor.com.