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For Immediate Release: May 9, 2012 Contact: Erich Weyant (ECHDC) | eweyant@esd.ny.gov | 716.846.8258 The Future of Buffalo’s Waterfront Takes Shape ECHDC gives Explore-n-More approval to begin the planning phase for a “Children’s Experience” and endorses Benderson Development’s plans for the Donovan Building The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) announced today that it has selected Explore-n-More Children’s Museum as the operator that will move forward with initial studies for a proposed “Children’s Experience” at Canalside. The board also gave its approval to Benderson Development’s final design for the renovation of the Donovan Building. “These two projects will propel Canalside to the next stage of its development,” said Sam Hoyt, ECHDC interim chair. “This is significant progress towards our goal of transforming Buffalo’s waterfront into an attractive place to work and play throughout the year.” Located in East Aurora, NY, Explore-n-More Children’s Museum has been operating since 1994 and attracted nearly 48,000 visitors in 2011 at its current 6,500 square foot space. Attendance at Explore-n-More is spread evenly throughout the year and is divided 70/30 percent between adults and children. Seventeen percent of the attendance was from outside Erie County, demonstrating that the current facility, while small in size and in a difficult location to find, is already an attraction. School visits include classes from Pre-K through Grade 3. Explore-n-More Children’s Museum was selected to be the operator of the “Children’s Experience” at Canalside based on its vision for a children’s museum at Canalside; its ability to meet the Canalside and Museum objectives in the RFP; its history of financial operations; its growth and consistency in attendance, its board strength and diversity; its ability to meet the project schedule; and its acknowledgement that the organization could meet the financial obligations of the planning phase in a reasonable timeframe. The Explore-n-More proposal for a Children’s Museum at Canalside is adapted to the site’s history and culture, and is highly influenced by the Story of Buffalo. Most of the exhibits, including a marquee “Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal” interactive exhibit, reflect the Story of Buffalo’s many themes and elements. It is anticipated that the museum will open Memorial Day 2016. The contract amount will be a match, with ECHDC matching $1 for every $2 raised by the museum operator, and will not exceed $67,000. The funding source will be the New York Power Authority Relicensing Agreement.

“I am looking forward to our partnership with Explore-n-More,” said Maureen Hurley, chair of ECHDC Cultural Advisory Group. “ECHDC made a commitment to present the best mix of cultural offerings at Canalside, and I am confident that a “Children’s Experience” under the guidance of Explore-n-More will fulfill our mission to bring “The Story of Buffalo” to a wide audience of children and adults. I want to thank the citizen-volunteers of our Cultural Advisory Group for all of their hard work and dedication on this project.” On July 19, 2011, the Directors authorized ECHDC to enter into a development agreement with Benderson Development, LLC. to undertake an adaptive reuse of the Donovan Building for a new mixed-use development, subject to review and approval of the project design in accordance with the design guidelines adopted as part of the Canalside MGPP. Those guidelines are intended to ensure that future development contributes to a dense, urban, pedestrianscaled development pattern and architectural themes consistent with Canalside development objectives. To facilitate the process, ECHDC established a Design Review Committee (DRC), which is composed of local professionals with specific training and/or expertise in urban/architectural/landscape design, construction and development, to review and make recommendations to the Board of Directors on the design of private development proposals at Canalside with regard to their consistency with the design guidelines. The plans were also referred to the City of Buffalo Planning Board on May 8, 2011 for consideration on its consistency with the design guidelines. The Planning Board approved the plans without changes. The proposed Project will meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver qualifications for the core and shell and the applicable building codes for a Type 1B construction classification. The entire exterior skin of the building is proposed to be removed and replaced with high quality materials that are consistent with the need to achieve a LEED Silver designation for the project. In addition, the existing mechanical, electrical, fire protection and plumbing systems throughout the building will be upgraded to meet LEED Silver requirements. A number of new site features are proposed, including: the construction of a large focal point gazebo at the southwest corner of the Project site; the addition of decorative cladding on retaining walls; artistic lighting elements and a porte-cochere, which will utilize a green roof system. Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation is a subsidiary agency of Empire State Development Corporation whose 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.

Background Children’s Experience at Canalside In 2010, Lord Cultural Resources and Ralph Applebaum Associates were hired to develop a comprehensive cultural plan based on the “Story of Buffalo” that would integrate cultural projects, as well as refine the use of public spaces and special features, into Canalside. This Master Plan, accepted by the Board in January 2012 identified short-term and long-term opportunities for cultural attractions, entertainment, waterside and special events programming which maximize use of the indoor and outdoor public spaces, increases the likelihood of commercial investment, and would attract additional visitors to Canalside. The recommendations included initiating a Request for Proposal (RFP) process to select a Museum Operator for a children’s museum/experience at Canalside. The selected operator was required to propose a facility that would be appropriate to the Aud Block building parcel and to demonstrate a relationship to the Story of Buffalo through the Museum Operator’s mission, exhibits, and/or programming. From a financial standpoint, the operator was required to be operationally sustainable, with capital and operational costs and a track record of funder support and successful capital campaigns. ECHDC received three submissions from local, not-for-profit organizations: The Buffalo Fire Historical Society, The Great Lakes Experience and Explore-n-More Children’s Museum. The submissions were reviewed by a selection committee consisting of ECHDC and ESD staff. A three-member panel of community volunteers, with experience in early childhood education and regional tourism, also provided comments on specific sections of the proposals. The selection committee (with unanimous concurrence from the community panel) short-listed two organizations for interviews: the Great Lakes Experience and Explore-n-More Children’s Museum. The next step is the completion of work that will determine the facility’s size and configuration, exhibits, capital and operational costs, and confirm Explore-n-More’s ability to fundraise the required capital. Explore-n-More will be required to complete a “Draft Museum Master Plan” by February 2013. A public involvement plan, approved by ECHDC, will be implemented by Explore-n-More as part of the Master Plan process. Additionally, Explore-n-More will be required to complete a Capital Campaign Feasibility Study in conjunction with the Draft Master Plan. The Final Museum Master Plan based on the Feasibility Study and public input will be completed by May 2013 and submitted to the boards of both Explore-n-More and ECHDC. It is expected that the ECHDC will confirm its financial commitment to the “core & shell” of this project concurrent with the approval of the Final Museum Master Plan. Once the Master Plan has received approval and ECHDC’s financial commitment is approved it is expected that Explore-n-More will complete capital fundraising within approximately 30 months of the approval date. Explore-n-More will be responsible for the selection of the design

and construction consultants for interiors, exhibits, and other ancillary items outside the “core and shell.” It is anticipated that ECHDC will design and construct the “core and shell” building through its own consultant contract for an architect, working closely with Explore-n-More. Explore-n-More will provide 80 hours of annual on-site, outdoor programming at Canalside for a minimum three-year period beginning after the museum opening. Donovan Building Project Plan After a technical review, the DRC convened on April 23, 2012 and unanimously recommended that ECHDC approve the project plans (Exhibit A). The DRC did have several recommendations concerning lighting design, landscaping materials, consistency with site materials on the Aud Block, and the various outdoor structural elements along Main Street. Staff has reviewed the comments and intends to incorporate the recommendations where appropriate. The plans were also referred to the City of Buffalo Planning Board on May 8, 2011 for consideration on its consistency with the design guidelines. The Planning Board approved the plans without changes. The former building’s primary foundations, grading and structural systems will be re-used, although most of its interior spaces, building systems and exterior cladding will be razed and replaced. A series of pedestrian-scale elements, including terraces, steps, lighting and green spaces have been added to the southern side of the project site. In addition, a planting trellis has been added to the Washington Street side of the parking garage to soften the view. Further, a drop-off area has been added to the building from Washington Street which will allow patrons of the building to be dropped–off on Washington Street and provide the opportunity for them to walk through the parking structure to gain access to the building. The Project is consistent with the goals and objectives of the MGPP because it reuses a vacant building and provides additional public space. Also, the project will meet the MGPP’s objectives for “creating tenant spaces suitable for a mix of uses, including office space, hotel space, ground level retail and community facility spaces, to ensure that Buffalo can capture its share of future economic growth and new jobs.” The Project varies slightly from how it was described in the MGPP; for example, no residential component is planned as part of the Project at this time. ###

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