Brendan Keany

Are We Finally Close to Development at the North Aud Block?

"It's the push to make it a full waterfront neighborhood."

June 18, 2019 - 9:13 pm

BUFFALO (WBEN - Brendan Keany) - Ever since the Memorial Auditorium was taken down, the North Aud Block has essentially laid there as an empty pit. Last night, developers and consultants wanted to hear from the public on what should be done with the area. 

"The consultants have been working for about a month - meeting with stakeholders, key agency groups - just starting to formulate that plan of the historic streets, the parking, the development sites and weaving all that together," said Steve Ranalli, the president of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation. "We want to get public input tonight before we move any further; we want to hear from the public and get their ideas."

Ranalli says this development is really key for the waterfront, as the two acre site is the largest parcel left at Canalside.

"On the development side, we know we need some additional parking for all of Canalside and specifically this two-acre site," he said. "Most importantly, I think it's about the mixed use development - the active first floors, commercial with residential above - it's the push to make it a full waterfront neighborhood."

Listen to the full conversation with Ranalli below:

The main idea being floated around right now is the idea of an underground parking garage that could hold about 150 cars and then integrating a mixed use site on the ground floors that incorporates residential and commercial space.

Walther Kloet is the urban designer for the project, and he described what he's been hearing from preliminary public input.

"What we think is important is the connection between the downtown area and the waterfront area; that's one of the main reasons," said Kloet. "The other is to get good public space with less noise from the highways - that's very important."

Buffalo resident Simon Husted agrees with Kloet's assessment.

"I'm here because I want the North Aud Block to be the opposite of a parking lot," said Husted. "We need it lively; we need it dense, and we need it to be the connection between downtown and Canalside."

Listen to the full conversations with Kloet and Husted below:

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