Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation Issues RFP for North Aud Block Redevelopment at Canalside

Professional Design Consultant Services Needed for Public Infrastructure Project and to Reconstruct Elements of Historic Street Pattern

December 10, 2018

Board also Designates NYS Parks Western Director Mark Mistretta to its Canalside Design Review Committee

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) Board of Directors met today and gave an update on plans for the redevelopment of the North Aud Block, a two-acre parcel at Canalside.  A Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued recently seeking design, bid and construction administrative services related to the development of infrastructure facilities on the northern portion of the former Memorial Auditorium Block, also known as the North Aud Block.  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.  The project aims to reintroduce elements of the historic street pattern that once traversed the block and the Erie Canal. Proposals are due to ECHDC by 3 p.m. on January 17, 2018.

“The North Aud Block transformation supports ongoing efforts to evoke the site’s Erie Canal history and re-establish the area as a downtown neighborhood,” said ECHDC Chairman Robert Gioia. “The intent of this RFP is to complete the historic street grid and set the site for future development of the North Aud Block.”

See a map of property here.

The Aud Block was originally acquired by ECHDC from the City of Buffalo in 2008.  Since then, ECHDC has invested public funds remediating hazardous waste, lead- and asbestos-containing materials, completing demolition of the Memorial Auditorium, relocating utilities and preparing the site for future development.  ECHDC completed construction of a series of historically-aligned water features on the site in 2014 which now host ice skating and other ice-related activities in the winter and water-based recreation in the summer.  Since 2014, ECHDC has been focusing its efforts on the redevelopment of the southern portion of the site, including Explore & More Children’s Museum, to be opened in spring 2019, and Heritage Point, a Sinatra & Company Real Estate mixed-use project which will break ground in 2019. 

The North Aud Block redevelopment will include the following inter-related programmatic elements:

  • Former Street Rights-of-Way.  The primarily organizing component that will shape this design effort—and future development of the North Aud Block—will be the design for reconstruction of former street right-of-way segments that once crossed the block, including Lloyd Street, Commercial Street and a small segment of Pearl Street.  Access on these roads will primarily be intended for pedestrian traffic and will be used for programming, outdoor seating and special events.
  • Platform Structures/Subsurface Parking.  Considering the variations in surface elevations on the site and that most of the site is already excavated, the reintroduction of their historic street pattern would require the establishment of some type of platform structures on the blocks formed by these streets.  ECHDC envisions this platform created by a surface parking garage. 
  • Measures/Systems to Support Future Development.  There is a goal to achieve a densely developed, mixed-use, very walkable setting to begin to move Canalside from seasonal event space to a more permanent downtown neighborhood.  ECHDC will need to identify as part of the street and parking structure design, future structural and logistical requirements to facilitate future development, as well as utility services, to be installed later as part of future development.
  • Other elements include a commitment to the Canalside Design Standards and Public/Stakeholder Involvement.

These publicly-funded improvements are intended to help facilitate a series of future development parcels that will later be the subject of a period of planning, public review, and final engineering, followed by construction.

The full RFP is available here (Note: a free account is required on the NYS Contract Reporter website to download the RFP).  A non-mandatory, pre-submittal conference will be held at 2 p.m. on December 18, 2018 at the ECHDC offices at 95 Perry Street, Buffalo.

In other news, the ECHDC Board of Directors voted to designate New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Director of the Western District Mark Mistretta as a member of ECHDC’s Canalside Design Committee.  The committee reviews and makes recommendations to the ECHDC Board of Directors on the design of private development proposals at Canalside regarding their consistency with the Canalside Design Guidelines.

“I am pleased to be serving in this capacity as we all work together to further develop our waterfront and our city,” said Mistretta.  “Canalside is at the epicenter of downtown development and it is certainly an exciting time to be involved.”

Mistretta graduated from Rutgers University, State University of New Jersey, with a B.S. in Landscape Architecture and is a registered Landscape Architect in New York State.  He was the initial Project Landscape Architect working for Wendel, a multi-disciplined and well-known landscape architect firm, for 27 years.  Mistretta has been involved in a variety of projects, including waterfront/shoreline restorations, sustainable landscapes, and master planning and phase improvements for large parks and recreational facilities.

Mistretta joins architects Rishawn Sonubi, the City of Buffalo Deputy Commissioner of Buildings, and Audrey Ross Sanders, owner of Audrey Ross Sanders Architect, on the design review committee. 

ECHDC also said a public information meeting with Buffalo Maritime Center regarding the construction of the “Longshed” and replica 1825 Packet Boat at Canalside will take place on Tuesday, December 18 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Buffalo History Museum.  The Governor announced in August 2018 a $4 million investment that will allow for construction of the Longshed, a 4,000-square-foot, year-round facility that the replica vessel will be built in.

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



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