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ECHDC Board Approves Outer Harbor Projects Moving Forward

Proximity of planned amenities on the Outer Harbor and prior investments makes for logical next step for Buffalo waterfront activation; Projects are part of Governor Cuomo’s vision for a dramatic transformation of Buffalo’s Outer Harbor

Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) today announced plans to move forward on four projects on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor.  The Outer Harbor, via these projects, will see significant investment, starting this May, and going forward for the next few years.  The board awarded a construction contract for a Buffalo Billion project that includes an urban bike park, events lawn, multi-use trails and habitat enhancements at the southern end of the Outer Harbor and voted to move into the capital planning phase for a Buffalo Billion Phase 2 project that includes planning the use of more than 140 acres of land that remains largely vacant and underutilized.  The board also approved contracts for capital planning at the First Buffalo River Marina and at Terminal B.  The projects are part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s vision for a dramatic transformation of the City of Buffalo’s Outer Harbor.  Click here for a map of areas that will see improvements.

“These projects, spearheaded by Governor Cuomo when he announced the Outer Harbor land transfer in 2013, represent a transformative change for the Outer Harbor, making it more accessible and active—a logical next step for investment following our previous projects at Canalside and on the river,” said ECHDC Chairman Robert Gioia.  “The intent of these efforts is to expand the amount and types of activities and experiences available to Outer Harbor visitors.  Our Governor asked ECHDC to deliver a waterfront the people of Western New York can be proud of – today that vision is moving forward.”

The board approved a nearly $4 million construction contract to Pinto Construction Services for the “Buffalo Outer Harbor Access & Activation Civic Improvements Project, Phase 1B,” which consists of several improvements that will enhance access and facilitate greater public use/enjoyment of 20-acres at the southern end of the Outer Harbor.  The project includes a completed multi-use Greenbelt Trail, including pedestrian and bicycle amenities; two overlook locations; an urban bike park with skills features and off-road trails; an events lawn for passive and active recreational purposes; and three habitat restoration areas.  The property being used by the public will also include environmental mitigation features mainly consisting of a soil cap and/or fencing.  The project is slated to begin in May 2018 and be completed by May 2019.  See site plan here and renderings here.

Building upon the first round of Buffalo Billion improvements at the southern end of the Outer Harbor, as well as improvements being evaluated for the First Buffalo River Marina at the northern end, Buffalo Billion Phase 2 improvements will further fill in existing access gaps, expand public usage of this great resource and provide for additional amenities and activities that will open public awareness.  The ECHDC Board approved a total contract amount not to exceed $2.11 million to Trowbridge Wolf Michaels Landscape Architects LLP, a New York State-certified Women Owned Business (WBE), for architectural and engineering design services for “Buffalo Outer Harbor Access & Activation Civic Improvements Project, Phase 2.”  While the improvements will be determined with stakeholder and agency involvement, they will likely include environmental remediation, active and passive open space, habitat restoration, a restored and accessible Michigan Pier, food and beverage opportunities, signage and wayfinding, and coordination with long-term, in-water improvements by the USACOE/NYSDEC.  These improvements will occur over 140 acres of land that remains largely vacant and underutilized on the Outer Harbor. 

The board approved a consultant agreement to Olin Partnership, Ltd dba OLIN, a full-service New York State-certified Women Owned Business (WBE)firm with more than 40 years of experience in successful placemaking, for architectural and engineering services at the First Buffalo River Marina.  The $550,000 contract will pay for planning of the approximately 15 acres of fenced land at the northern end of the Outer Harbor, which includes a 115-slip boat marina with a Marina Office Building and Marina Maintenance Building, several boat launch locations, outdoor storage for approximately 300 boats, and approximately 150 spaces for trailer parking and/or public patrons.  While not in use by the marina, the site also contains the Connecting Terminal Grain Elevator.  The site is immediately adjacent to the Queen City Bike Ferry.  ECHDC is considering the following preliminary water-dependent programmatic elements to be incorporated in the marina plans:

  • Overall entrance, marina circulation and parking for vehicles based on type of general public/marina user
  • Relocated boat launch and related circulation
  • Relocated Queen City Bike Ferry landing and related circulation
  • Site access and control for various types of users
  • Pedestrian and bicycle circulation
  • Landscape and public site amenity plan
  • Public space programming, including concessions and rental opportunities.


Lastly, the ECHDC Board awarded a contract to Bergmann Associates, Architects, Engineers, Landscape Architects & Surveyors, DPC LLP for architectural and design services at Terminal B.  The $375,000 contact will provide concepts for various options, ranging from demolition to reuse.

About Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation 

The ECHDC is governed by a nine-member board consisting of seven voting directors and two non-voting, ex-officio directors. The seven voting directors are recommended by the New York State Governor and are appointed by the New York State Urban Development Corporation d/b/a Empire State Development as sole shareholder of ECHDC. The two nonvoting, ex-officio director positions are held by the Erie County Executive and the City of Buffalo Mayor.

As a subsidiary of Empire State Development, the state’s chief economic development agency, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation supports and promotes the creation of infrastructure and public activities at Canalside, the Ohio Street corridor and the Outer Harbor that is attracting critical mass, private investment and enhance the enjoyment of the waterfront for residents and tourists in Western New York. Its 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. For more information on ECHDC, visit www.eriecanalharbor.com.




Pamm Lent (Governor’s Office) | [email protected] | (716) 846-8309

Laura Magee (ECHDC) | [email protected] | (716) 846-8239