Three proposed plans for Buffalo’s North Aud Block get public feedback

Local News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB-TV) –People got to look at three designs for Buffalo’s North Aud Block on Wednesday for Erie Canal Harbor Development’s (ECHDC) second public meeting on the proposed development.

The undeveloped land is about two acres at Canalside between the paddle boat pool and Lower Terrace, where the street runs under the 190.

All of the options include commercial, residential, and public space.

“As with all of Canalside, the streets, the towpaths, all of the public space will be developed around what the public can walk on,” Steven Ranalli, ECHDC’s president said. “And then certainly from there, we’d like to see private development fill in those parcels, so all of the retail, restaurants, the commercial space, the residential…we’re expecting will be private development.”

ECHDC will continue listening to public input both at in-person events and via an online survey. The agency, along with a consulting team and stakeholders, aims to choose one of the plans this fall or by the end of the year.

The first option is the least dense, with smaller buildings that don’t go above the height of the Thruway.

The second option is denser: The buildings become a little taller, meaning more residential units, more commercial space, and more parking.

The third options has the most robust development, with some buildings potentially reaching as high as 15 stories to include the largest amount of commercial square footage and residential units.

Steven Schwartz, who lives close by, prefers the first option and the least intrusion. He believes Canalside is for everyone and that it should stay that way, although he does recognize the economic benefit of some private development.

“I want to keep this pedestrian, I want to keep this useful for me and my grandchildren,” he said.

And Mary Lou Dietrich, who spends her summer days at the waterfront, is okay with the three plans because they won’t alter the rest of Canalside’s layout. She originally worried it might encroach on Canalside’s open space.

“I’m happy where it’s going to be if it has to be here, that they’re not taking away anything from what we have now,” she said.

In the past, the public has been very interested in more parking, as more people flock to Buffalo’s waterfront for an ever-growing number events that sometimes happen at the same time.

The president of ECHDC says he recognizes that need.

“I think the people that come here and want to live in a place like this are going to understand that to some degree, and there will be some nights where it’s busy down here,” Ranalli said. “But to make residential successful, there does need to be some set aside parking spaces for the residential, and I think that’s going to be a part of what we see moving forward..”

All three options include underground parking, and there’s more above-ground parking with each progressively taller plan. It’s unclear how many spaces would be set aside for residents and how many would be open to the public, but Ranalli said he could envision a parking plan in which more spots are available during the day for visitors and restricted at night for residents.

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