Designs Approved for Two Canalside Devlopments

Carousel construction to begin within the week

Brendan Keany
October 15, 2019 - 3:00 pm

BUFFALO (WBEN) - On Tuesday morning, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation Board of Directors approved the designs of two projects - the Buffalo Heritage Carousel and Heritage Point Complex - which will be located near Canalside.

The carousel has been in the works for a while, and it appears shovels are ready to enter the ground at some point within the next week, with the goal of a summer 2020 opening. The timeline for Heritage Point by Sinatra & Company Real Estate is about two years away from completion, but construction is expected to begin by the end of this year.

Steve Ranalli serves as president of the ECHDC, and he is eager for the carousel.

"It's just amazing with this carousel - the governor had this vision a few years ago to bring a carousel to the Buffalo Waterfront, and it took some time to work with the group, the city and all of our partners to pull it off, but it is a fantastic wooden-framed structure, it's going to be enclosed by glass, it's going to be lit up on the inside so it just glows at night," he said.

ECHDC Chairman Robert Gioia is excited about the impacts these two projects will have in advancing Buffalo's Waterfront.

"The role of government is to create a site that really encumbers and helps to really excite the area, but it really requires private development to partner with the public side," said Gioia. "Today, I think we're seeing that with both the carousel and with Heritage Point."

Heritage Point will be located here:

Heritage Point is a $30 million private development project on the South Aud Block, and it includes two mixed-use buildings. The buildings will be separated by a public walkway, and they will be comprised of residential components on top combined with commercial space on the first floor.

Gioia also explained the need for infrastructure at Canalside to make the area as attractive as possible, and he explained the goal is to make the waterfront a year-round attraction as opposed to a seasonal one.

"I think most people will tell you, if you travel around to other successful waterfront projects, whether it be Baltimore, Brooklyn, San Francisco, Seattle, wherever it may be, you really need to have some critical mass," he began. "You have to have people there; you have to have people living and walking around, and you have to have amenities that they want to eat and dine, so that there's always going to be something going on.

"I think you're seeing it with the Explore & More - the activity down there," Gioia continued. "One of our goals has always been to make a year-round attraction for the entire family, whether they be young, elderly or older, but I think it's really about a full family attraction year-round."

Listen to Gioia's full comments below:

There have been a few voices that are worried about the developments at Canalside, specifically the carousel and Explore & More, and whether these projects will do a good enough long-term job of attracting people to the waterfront. Ranalli argues that the balance of everything to do at Canalside will be key to its sustainability.

"I think that the carousel is a piece of Western New York's story - this carousel was designed and manufactured here in Tonawanda, there's a long history related to the carousel industry here, and so bringing one of those unique assets right to waterfront, I think just compliments everything that we do," said Ranalli.

Listen to Ranalli's full comments below:

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