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Friday, April 21, 2017

Higgins, Ryan call on Harbor Development Corporation to push forward with public market

All WNY News     Friday, April 21, 2017    

STAFF REPORTS
news@allwnynews.com



BUFFALO -- Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) and New York State Assemblymember Sean Ryan want Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) to expedite construction of a Public Market, expanding the food options and enhancing the visitor experience at Canalside.

"We have waterfront planning documents from 1998, 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2013 that end up on a shelf collecting dust," said Congressman Higgins. "For eight years now a large hole in the ground sits where much of the old Memorial Auditorium once stood.  The most recent Canalside master plan, like its predecessors, calls for the creation of a public market destination.  This is the right kind of development for Canalside, creating a destination that would feature Buffalo's homegrown food offerings, bringing people together and building on the experiences available to downtown and Canalside visitors.  We are calling on the corporation tasked with development to proceed swiftly with construction of the Canalside Hall Market."   

Assemblyman Sean Ryan said "We have already spent a significant amount of time and money planning for the future of North Aud Block site. It's time to put that planning into action and create a public marketplace for Canalside. The marketplace would complement what already exists, and would be a catalyst for future development and the establishment of a walkable Canalside neighborhood. We have the funding in place, and the plans are ready to go. The public marketplace will be a significant step forward for the New Buffalo, and ensure continued momentum for Buffalo's waterfront."

The 2013 Modified General Project Plan (MGPP) includes a "Public Market," also suggested in previous waterfront master plans as "Canalside Hall."  According to the plan: "The market is designed to embrace Buffalo's rich "old" and "new" food culture.  Local, regional foods, both prepared and raw, will be showcased at the market. It will also be designed to accommodate large events and private parties. Preliminary studies have been completed on the merchant mix and operations of the market. A draft merchant list includes a casual cafĂ©, deli, wine bar, chocolate store, bakery, sausage and hot dog counter, diner, cookware store, brew pub, and ice cream shop."  (p. 11) 

On March 28, 2017 Assemblyman Ryan sent a letter to Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation asking the Chairman to abandon support for a new train station at Canalside and proceed with construction of the public marketplace recommended in the Canalside Project Plan.  ECHDC later agreed to abandon a train station location at the North Aud Block.

In recent weeks, Congressman Higgins has also been in communication with owners and management of several iconic Western New York restaurant brands who have expressed great interest in an opportunity to locate at Canalside, with some communicating that interest in writing.
Higgins and Ryan are now calling on Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation to embrace this opportunity to feature Western New York-centric food options at Canalside, follow through on the 2013 Project Plan and work swiftly to commit funding toward the construction of the envisioned Public Market.

The Memorial Auditorium was vacated by 1996 and demolished in 2009.   The Project Plan calls for construction of the Public Market on a section of the Aud block designated as "A1."

The cost of constructing the Public Market is estimated at $8 million. Funding is available through the New York Power Authority federal relicensing settlement secured in 2006.

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