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A Letter From Thomas Dee

A Letter From Thomas Dee

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Published by Addy P Esdny

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Published by: Addy P Esdny on Jan 14, 2012
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01/14/2012

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January 13, 2012Dear Friend,I want to share some news with you about the exciting changes that are taking place on Buffalos waterfront.Thanks to the momentum that we achieved this summer, with more than 300 events and 400,000 visitors, wehave reached a tipping point that will result in unprecedented improvements to our regions greatest naturalresource.Earlier this week, our board approved a $23 million contract for the construction of a system of historically alignedpublic canals on the site of the former Memorial Auditorium. Just across Main Street, Benderson Developmenthas begun its $30 million rehab of the former Donovan Office Building. In addition, ECHDC will begin work on fiveadditional construction projects on the waterfront in 2012, including a permanent extension of the Central Wharf,more docks, our first efforts on the Outer Harbor, and the Liberty Hound - the new bistro at the Naval andServicemans Museum.Culture continues to be a vital component of the Canalside project. ECHDC Board member Maureen Hurleyspearheaded the creation of the Canalside Cultural Steering Group in 2007, drawing together leaders fromWestern New Yorks major cultural institutions, including Donna Fernandes of the Buffalo Zoo and Melissa Brownfrom the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, our major foundations, such as Catherine Schweitzer from theBaird Foundation and noted educator Peter Dow. The group focused on ways to tell The Story of Buffalothroughout the site. Internationally recognized consultants were hired to review local conditions, conductinterviews with nearly 130 community members during a visioning workshop, and to solicit and review proposalsfor long-term projects.The group worked for a year and a half, issuing their final report, locatedhere, in November 2011. The report,which will form the basis for integrating cultural experiences into Canalside, found that in addition to the siteprogramming that is currently offered, the most sustainable initial project for cultural investment would be achildrens experience given that it will fill a gap in the family attractions available in Western New York and willprovide mass market appeal on a year-round basis. A recent review of the top ten most popular links on thewebsite for the Convention and Visitors Bureau reveals Explore-N-More at number seven and the CentralWharf at number eight. The report also found that a childrens experience has reasonable capital costs and a highlikelihood for sustainability. A childrens experience that integrates our rich history has the potential to become aregional attraction, and places an emphasis on the future, as well as our past.Based on these findings, ECHDC has issued aRequest for Proposalsfor the operator of a childrens experience.Proposals are due on March 8, 2012 and we expect to announce a selection by this summer. As a part of theprocess, ECHDC will perform due diligence on the selected operators ability to complete the childrensexperience by requiring both a Museum Master Plan that is specific to Canalside, as well as a Capital CampaignFeasibility Study. A public Participation Plan is also a requirement of this phase.In addition to the childrens experience, the Cultural Master Plan considers the possible development of a Storyof Buffalo Center, which would provide a place to tell Buffalos unique story and detail the role that our city
 
95 Perry Street, Suite 500Buffalo, NY 14203-3030P: (716) 846-8200F: (716) 846-8260www.eriecanalharbor.com 
 
played in the development of the United States. At this point, this is a concept in the early stages of development,and will require more research and review before we consider moving forward with it.I have attached some recent articles from the
Buffalo News
,
Buffalo Rising
and
Buffalo Business First 
that provideadditional information on the strides that we are taking to make our waterfront the true destination that weknow it can be. Please feel free to share this letter and these articles with your friends and family, and if youwould like to keep up to date on the latest news on Canalside, I encourage you to become a fan of ECHDC onFacebook, and to follow us onTwitter. 2012 is going to be a great year for Western New York. Respectfully,Thomas P. DeePresident, Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation
The Buffalo News
Exciting times on the waterfrontAfter years of nothing but talk, progress being made at CanalsideNews Editorial BoardJanuary 11, 2012http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial-page/buffalo-news-editorials/article704933.ece Full steam ahead: That appears to be the operating philosophy of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. as itlets contracts and otherwise moves briskly forward on sweeping plans for Buffalos long-neglected waterfront.This is an exciting time in Buffalo for a number of reasons developments at the Buffalo Niagara MedicalCampus, the arrival of Say Yes to Education, revival of the downtown housing marketbut none is longer soughtor more critical to Buffalos prospects than turning the citys waterfront into a destination for residents andvisitors alike.Buffalos lakefront has been a squandered resource for decades. Its an obvious location for recreation, housingand retail business, yet it has lain dormant, unused for lack of plans, lack of funds and lack of will. That changedwhen Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, wrestled $100 million from the New York State Power Authority during its2007 relicensing.Although the city spent years fruitlessly pursuing Bass Pro Shops as a waterfront anchor, the union was neverconsummated. Higgins finally pulled the plug by issuing Bass Pro an ultimatum and, with that, the company wasgiven the exit it seemed to crave.Under the circumstances, it was the best thing that could have happened. Once the decks were clear of thesporting goods super store, planning turned to a lighter, quicker, cheaper philosophy. It was like lighting a fuse.Enough work was completed by last year that the free Thursday at the Square concert series was moved to thewaterfront. Dozens of brightly colored Adirondack chairs dubbed Buffalo sunset chairswere stationed at theCentral Wharf. Clintons Dish, a small eatery, opened at Canalside. The area became a magnet for people.
 
Now, waterfront officials have approved a contract to build historically aligned canals on the site of the oldMemo-rial Auditorium. The project is to be complete this year, by which time another contract should have beenbid to extend those canals to Washington Street.Further down the road, plans are being laid for a childrens experience museum with a solar-powered carousel,a Buffalo Fed America theme for a public market and a Buffalo Story Center,a visitor centerpiece at Canalside.Also: the permanent extension of the Central Wharf, establishment of the Liberty Hound restaurant inside thenaval museum, development of a parcel on the outer harbor and the return of cars to lower Main Street.With other nearby construction, said Thomas P. Dee, the waterfront agencys president, the waterfront hasreached the tipping pointthe accumulation of events that will change the region for good and stands a goodchance of altering Buffalos own view of itself.It has been a sudden whirlwind of productivity after years of nothing. We have today what we didnt have beforeplans, money and will. In the end, success will depend on the ability to draw private investment, but this makesfor an exciting time on the waterfrontand with more excitement to come. The Harbor Development Corp.deserves Buffalos thanks.
Buffalo Rising
Canal Contract Let and Cultural Attractions Picked for CanalsideJanuary 9, 2011http://www.buffalorising.com/2012/01/canal-contract-let-and-cultural-attractions-picked-for-canalside.html 
 
The Board of Directors of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) today voted to enter into acontract with DiPizio Construction Company, Inc., for the construction of historically aligned public canals atCanalside. The board also took action based on the findings of the Canalside Cultural Master Plan, issuing aRequest for Proposals (RFP) for the selection of a museum operator for a children's museum experience atCanalside."This is a historic day for Western New York," said ECHDC Chair Jordan Levy. "We are done with talking andplanning and we are moving forward with construction and development, which will generate jobs and taxrevenue for our region. I have a simple message for our community: This is real, the work begins now, and by thistime next year, we will have radically improved the waterfront, transforming it into a destination that honors ourpast, while laying the groundwork for our place in the 21st Century."The public canals will be installed on the Aud Block and will interpret the alignment of the Erie Canal andCommercial Slip, which once crossed the site. The canals are designed to evoke the character and vibrancy of thehistoric Canal District, and to emphasize downtown Buffalo's connection to the waterfront. Hundreds of jobs willbe generated by the construction of the canals, with permanent positions evolving once the work is completed.A total of six submissions were received on December 22, 2011 for the construction of the canals. DiPizioConstruction Company, Inc., of Cheektowaga was found to be the lowest responsible bidder. The contract amountwill not exceed $19,784,000 plus a 20 percent construction contingency for a total contract amount of 

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