ECHDC Board Meets and Approves Measures to Improve Buffalo’s Waterfront

Board approves contracts to TY Lin International, Queen City Bike Ferry and Dale’s Marina Service; accepts Be Our Guest and ECHDC budgets

March 11, 2019

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) Board of Directors met today and approved a slate of measures to maintain and grow services and activities along Buffalo’s Waterfront and advance development projects at Canalside. 

“ECHDC is working to carry out its mission of advancing Buffalo’s Waterfront and 2019 is looking like our most active year ever,” said ECHDC Chairman Robert Gioia.  “The actions of the board today are just the beginning as we work with Governor Cuomo to attract people to the water’s edge, while spurring additional investment in the Waterfront and the City of Buffalo.”

TY Lin International, a multi-discipline engineering firm with more than 60 years of experience in successful infrastructure development, including the design of multi-functional public landscapes and urban buildings, will design, bid and provide construction management services for the development of infrastructure on the North Aud Block.    The project aims to reintroduce elements of the historic street pattern that once traversed the Erie Canal in that location.    Currently, the contract is for project scoping, concept design and schematic design.  Once a preferred concept plan and construction budget have been accepted by the ECHDC Board, ECHDC and TY Lin will negotiate a final scope of work and fees for additional tasks, such as design development, construction documents, bidding and awarding and construction administration. TY Lin’s contract is for an amount not to exceed $595,316. In August 2018, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced $10 million in funding would be committed to support the design and construction of the site’s transformation.  See a map of property here.

The Board also approved the budget for the remaining three years of ECHDC’s five-year contract with Be Our Guest Ltd. (‘BRG’) for the management of Canalside. BRG, a subsidiary of Rich Products Corporation, will continue to be responsible for all Canalside’s operations, including programming and events, operations and maintenance, marketing and sponsorships, food and beverage, and financial management. The three-year budget, which includes BRG’s management fee and a capital purchases allowance, is for an amount not to exceed $4.5 million. As per the contract, BRG is required to share a portion of Canalside’s net operating income and revenue with ECHDC which ECHDC will then put back into the site. At the end of Year 2, it’s estimated that share will be approximately $77,400. That amount is expected to grow in future years as BRG continues to gain experience and efficiency in managing Canalside.  In addition, with Explore & More Children’s museum expected to open this Spring, ECHDC intends to amend the management agreement to add the museum to BRG’s managed premises.

The board also approved a contract extension to Queen City Bike Ferry, Inc. for operations and maintenance services related to the Queen City Bike Ferry.  The $269,450 contract extension is for 2019 through 2021.  The bike ferry has proven to be a valuable method of transportation and direct link between Canalside and Buffalo’s Outer Harbor, both significant assets to the region’s recreation and tourism industries. 

The funding source for these three contracts is the New York Power Authority.

The board also authorized ECHDC to enter into an agreement with Dale’s Marina Service, LLC for marina operations and management at the First Buffalo River Marina at 32 Fuhrman Boulevard.  The contract is through March 1, 2021 with renewable options for2022 and 2023.  In exchange for granting them the right to offer services and generate profits, ECHDC will receive a base rent and share of revenues.  Dale’s Marina Service, LLC has more than 20 years of experience in marine service management, most of which has taken place on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor, and assured ECHDC that it will continue to maintain current slip holder services, as well as enhance the organization and cleanliness of the site. 

In other board actions:

  • Steve Ranalli was appointed ECHDC President.  Ranalli, an employee of the corporation since 2008, is a professional engineer with experience in engineering, urban planning, design and economic development.  He has served as the vice president of development since August 2018 with day-to-day oversight and management of all projects and initiatives within the corporation’s 450 acres of waterfront property. 
  • Design approval was granted on the Explore & More Children’s Museum exterior signage with the exception of painted wording (e.g., “Play” and “Curiosity”).  The children’s museum will include signage in several locations to capture the movement of people through Canalside, enhance entrances to the facility and ancillary offerings (e.g., retail and restaurant) and make the building more playful and representative of a children’s museum.  A large tricycle sculpture will be located on the roof.  
  • $300,000 from the New York Power Authority Environmental Justice Fund was accepted by the ECHDC Board for energy-related infrastructure associated with the Explore & More Children’s Museum.  These funds will be distributed to the museum to be applied to its contribution toward construction of the core and shell of the museum building.  ECHDC previously approved $9 million toward costs associated with construction of the museum’s core and shell and certain site work. 
  • Approval of ECHDC’s operating and capital budgets for the fiscal year 2019-2020.  The operating budget of $1,267,688 includes all budgeted personnel and non-personnel expenses.  The corporation’s capital budget is $41,084,197.  This includes, but is not limited to, the remaining costs on the construction of Explore & More Children’s Museum; the development of the remainder of the South Aud Block; construction of the carousel project; construction of the Longshed; design of the North Aud Block; Donovan Block utilities relocation; and Canalside events, programming, site operations, maintenance and utility costs.  Additionally, ECHDC is funding various projects at the Outer Harbor.  Capital projects are individually approved by the corporation’s board of directors under separate actions. 

About Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation
The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (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 non-voting, 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.


Pamm Lent | [email protected] | 716-846-8309 | (800) 260-7313
Laura Magee | [email protected] | 716-846-8239 | (800) 260-7313