Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation Projects

For a history of the Buffalo waterfront and timeline of projects, visit buffalowaterfront.com/history

Canalside
Millions of dollars in both public and private investment have transformed Buffalo’s Inner Harbor into what is now known as Canalside- a mixed-use urban entertainment destination. Open to the public since May 2008, Canalside features several fully restored facets of the original Erie Canal Harbor, including the Commercial Slip, Boardwalk, and the Historic Replica Canals. A year round attraction that hosts nearly 1.5 million visitors annually, Canalside boasts thousands of events, concerts, festivals, family activities, attractions, historical & cultural programming, art, food, and tours that capitalize on and showcase the diverse resources of the Western New York region. In addition, the Historic Replica Canals are frozen in the winter months to become New York State’s largest outdoor ice skating rink!

2013 Canalside Modified General Project Plan and Related Documents

Outer Harbor

Since September 2013, when Governor Andrew Cuomo presented his vision for a dramatic transformation of the City’s largely vacant Outer Harbor properties, the ECHDC and NYS Parks have each advanced a series of studies and construction projects that have begun to transform an additional 429 acres of the Buffalo Waterfront.

Approximately 182 acres of this Outer Harbor property, including the former Small Boat Harbor and Gallagher Beach, is now operated by the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation as Buffalo Harbor State Park.

The remaining approximately 247 acres of land north of Buffalo Harbor State Park is now operated by the ECHDC, which completed several capital improvements to increase public access to and use of this property, as well as conducted several community-driven planning studies that have informed the current and future disposition of the site.  The ECHDC, with support from Governor Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion program opened the Lakeside Complex in 2019, with additional multi-use trails, open spaces and areas of regenerative landscaping.  Prior to this, ECHDC opened Wilkeson Pointe and the Queen City Bike Ferry.

In addition to these capital improvements, the ECHDC with Empire State Development led its first community-driven planning process to determine the future land uses for the 247 acres of ECHDC’s Outer Harbor property – known as the Buffalo Outer Harbor “Blueprint”.  The Blueprint was accepted by the ECHDC Board of Directors in 2015 and in 2016, its findings were incorporated into the City’s Unified Development Ordinance - Chapter 496 of Buffalo’s City Code, commonly known as the “Green Code”, and the Buffalo Outer Harbor Brownfield Opportunity Assessment.  In 2018, the City incorporated the Blueprint into its Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan.

In June 2019, the ECHDC’s second community-driven planning process to develop a long-term capital plan for the 208 acres of ECHDC’s Outer Harbor property (i.e., not including the former Port Terminal A and it’s 39 acres of adjacent land) was completed.  This Buffalo Outer Harbor Preferred Plan included sitewide elements, features and amenities deemed important by the public and that were underdeveloped in the earlier Blueprint.

In 2019, the ECHDC also established a volunteer, advisory panel of local citizens to study options and make non-binding recommendations to ECDCH concerning the future of the former Port Terminal A and its surrounding property.  The advisory panel is reviewing local market studies and best practices for similar facilities around the country, evaluating redevelopment scenarios, cost estimates, and schedules in order to assess a range of potential outcomes from demolition to full restoration.  Recommendations from the advisory panel are expected in 2021.

2020 Buffalo Outer Harbor Civic and Land Use Improvement Project

Queen City Bike Ferry & Landing
The Queen City Bike Ferry connects pedestrians and bicyclists from Canalside to the Outer Harbor and back daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day for $1 per person each way. In 2015, its first year of operation, the Ferry exceeded expectations as it welcomed over 50,000 riders. During the offseason, ECHDC invested $825,000 into a revamped Ferry landing at the Outer Harbor which was designed to improve the pedestrian-bicycle trail system along the waterfront, providing a direct link to the water’s edge, rest area for riders and enhanced experience. The new landing replaced a group of existing boat docks and installed amenities to permit the expanded Queen City Bike Ferry service. Also, a paved pedestrian pathway was created, which extends from the water’s edge through a landscaped waiting area, and terminates at Fuhrmann Boulevard. Additional site amenities and aesthetic features include signage, benches, planters, & accessory structures. The Bike Ferry is operated privately, however ECHDC pays all operations costs while putting all revenue back into the operation.