Friday, March 30, 2007

Bass Pro at Canalside - is this finally the real deal?

Above are two renderings of the new Bass Pro and related development set for the central wharf next door to HSBC Arena. Check out the 19th century period architecture!

It's front page news here in Buffalo - the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation today inked a "pre development" agreement with Bass Pro to construct a 125,000 sf retail store on the waterfront next door to HSBC Arena. This will be the retail anchor for a comprehensive mixed use development which should dramatically change the look of the arena neighborhood in the coming few years.

Looking at the renderings - part of me is thrilled, and part of me is looking at this with a feeling of trepidation and dread. What will go wrong now? Supposedly all that is standing in the way is the standard environmental impact review, and once a negative declaration is issued, it is all systems go. Nonetheless, I will believe all this when I see a shovel in the ground. I've seen Buffalo's hopes and dreams dashed too many times and that is where my skepticism comes in.

And sure enough, Tim Tielman from the local preservationist crowd is already chiming in, calling the renderings "an abomination". As a reminder, this is same posse who tried to move heaven and earth to prevent Dunn Tire Park from being built in the 80s... they much would have preferred to maintain the few derelict vacant buldings and litter strewn parking lots over a beautiful baseball stadium.

Anyways, the urban planner in me is jacked up and I am just a fountain of ideas.... so rapid fire here goes:

1) The renderings show the skyway gone; $10MM is set aside for Aud demo; and the Donovan Building is now vacant and slated for demolition this year. So how about fast tracking the Skyway closure, and start bidding out asbestos and mold remediation for the Aud NOW! Demo all three structures at the same time, and have development ready sites all in place for immediate build out.

2) They are leaving the skyway piers in place, according to the drawings. So light 'em up, turn them into dramatic sculptures. Imagine laser lights and other special effects offering a symphony of light each night.

3) How about leaving the Terrace Street lobby entrance of the Aud intact. The size of the structure would be proportional to future development, and it would leave a bit of Aud history in place.

4) I would love to see a dramatic new Canalside light rail station - with weather protected access for arena patrons.

5) When can we see construction of that low rise bridge at the foot of Main Street, presumably connecting to the new Fuhrmann Blvd in the outer harbor. Get that bridge built and open and that land the other side of the Buffalo River becomes HOT PROPERTY.

Here is more from The Buffalo News. Also, Jim Fink has an update from the ECHDC meeting this morning at Buffalo Business First.

This is a circa 50s photo of the Inner Harbor, with the Skyway under construction. With today's plans being released, the new look would resemble what things were like there two generations ago


Alex said...

These pictures look great. I want to get a job at Bass Pro. Where do I apply? Do you guys have any pull to get me in?

Peter said...

whoa...Alex. I'm still skeptical as to whether this is a done deal here. I have no clue about anyone who could help(right now) about getting in there....of course it's all a ways off.

Alex said...

Thanks it looks like it will be two more years... well that might give me time to get more studies in and be able to qualify.. for now it's still my crappy minimum wage job!