Construction Watch: HARBORcenter

Heavy construction
equipment has rolled onto the Webster Block in front of the First Niagara
Center, where construction crews are set to begin work on Terry Pegula’s
$175 million multipurpose facility, HARBORcenter. Fences line the
parcel while a portion of Lower Main Street has been closed off
to accommodate the massive project.

Sabres Director of Communications Mike Gilbert told WKBW: “We got all of the
approvals last week and we hit the ground running. By April you will see cranes
in the air here. I think people that don’t come down here on a regular basis,
when they do and they see it they’re going to say wow.”

 

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HARBORcenter will include
800 parking spaces topped by two enclosed hockey rinks, retail space, and
a 200-room hotel.  The ice rinks and parking ramp are both expected
to open in September 2014 with the hotel following in spring 2015. 


Harbor Center New.jpg

In addition to the
HARBORcenter, construction can be seen in several directions as crews
continue work at One Canalside, the Aud Block canals, and most recently, the
East Canal park which will also begin taking shape this month, located between One
Canalside and HARBORcenter developments. 


IMG_27990.JPG

And, just down the street, Ellicott Development Corp. has plans for another major development fronting the entrance to the Erie Basin Marina. Ellicott’s proposal for “The Carlo” took a step forward last week when the company was given designated-developer status for the City-owned land needed for the $75 million project.


The Carlo.jpg&maxW=602&maxH=602&AlignV=top&Q=jpg

Canalside and Harbor renderings finals.jpg

 

About the author  ⁄ Jackie Treehorn

106 comments
whatever
whatever

Ok, no problem, fair enough. Sometimes being rude is useful to get a message across.

But I get it. I'll try to not reply to or mention your comments.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/zERv75MazoflutwHy7lRxIy3._U
https://me.yahoo.com/a/zERv75MazoflutwHy7lRxIy3._U

It would be different if this was a main thoroughfare, but it's actually capping the end of a street... covering a pretty horrible view (my opinion). Trying to tie canalside to cobblestone (with a total of 4? social venues) is a tough road with the FNC right where it is, but there is an opportunity to actually do that- blow up the NFTA metro rail yard- or reuse the upper levels- or something with that place- it's the obvious barrier to a flow from canalside to cobblestone AND actual waterfront access. You could potentially run it practically to River Fest Park.

This would help the accidental FNC exits into 'No man's land' as well.

nyc
nyc

okay fine, that was rude but i am really tired of this.

nyc
nyc

shut up

whatever
whatever

I've no idea why you claim I'm defending any stupidity on any side. Lame.

Clearly a big stupid fail was the strategy/tactics of the opposition, as I described in previous comments. So, I suppose I could claim you're 'defending' that.

Yes, also unelected bureaucrats do stupid things. If that's a news flash, so be it. If it looks like I'm 'defending' that to point out how common it is but how it can also be possible to overcome that, well...

But here's the thing -

The nine people you guys elected to the Common Council could've held up on approving the sale until or unless the bridge was made smaller. Instead they gave unanimous approval. And that was well after the Planning Board meetings.

That zero of the nine made a public issue of the bridge size, and weren't even effectively pressured by your side to attempt making a big public issue of it, speaks volumes about stupidity elsewhere too (if indeed the bridge size is stupid).

nyc
nyc

you are not being practical. you are just defending stupidity.

whatever
whatever

nyc - I'm not missing that point, just being practical & realistic about it.

The local govt of Buffalo gets things wrong quite often.

I'm not saying Buffalo is unusual that way either, and I'm not even necessarily agreeing the HC bridge is a disaster - but for sake of discussion let's suppose it is.

What I'm saying is sometimes Buffalo's govt does reverse course based on public reaction.

For instance the Wilson Street farm. City govt / Brown admin were hell bent against allowing it - heels dug in, all that. But then after their first reaction went over so badly, they did a 180 flip flop and allowed it, eventually bragged about it.

Other stuff they've reversed course on - Bass Pro, One Sunset, the Jim Pitts hotel, writing alternate side parking tickets on New Year's Monday, …

'professionals' had gotten all of those wrong too.

I'm not saying always or even usually it's possible to get them to change their minds, and yeah ideally they'd get things 'correct' on their own (although not everyone agrees about what's correct)….

but practically & realistically, sometimes public opposition can have impact.

I'd think very seldom if ever will it have impact when attempted like it was this time with an unfocused last minute crazy alternative 'plan' stepping all over their own message about the bridge size.

If the city govt was incompetent in approving the bridge size aspect, so was the opposition in how it tried to reverse it.

nyc
nyc

you are missing the point.

the city is responsible to be able to look at, understand, review, and approve projects. They should get cues from public input but ultimately the city needs to understand design. There is no reason that the public should have to say a word before the city says "no revisit that idea." Cities function this way every day. It should not be up to the public to police this stuff. It's also not up to "imperfect elected leaders" but rather the project must be reviewed and evaluated by professional staff.

whatever
whatever

"activists will always come to the table with alternatives, some realistic, most not,"

Well, when they choose an approach so clearly delusional and mockable as the last-minute-rinks-on-roofs-10story-hotel alternative, they hurt their own cause.

This might rejected because it's me saying it, but....

to try changing minds of imperfect elected leaders, a more reasoned and focused approach from your side of this using mainstream media (well prior to final approval vote meeting) to show pictures of the planned bridge and arguing only how the bridge could/should be made smaller - all while clearly not attacking the main ideas of the plan which had won in the RFP - would've had a better chance of impact.

No guarantee of course, but the approach which was tried with only last minute media focus on the dopey alternative was pretty much guaranteed to not have any impact. JMHO.

Old First Ward
Old First Ward

Good urban planning not only plans for the present but also for the long term. Fast tracking a project to appease a sports team owner because you feel obligated to repay his investment in purchasing our beloved hockey team is a very wrong reason to embrace this location for this obstructionism.

So far his lapses in judgement have caused agony to this fan base and now comes a permanent stain to our landscape. I'm not questioning his heart, but I am calling out his decision making and his circle of advisers. Starting with the retention of Darcy Regier which resonates to draft picks, trades, signings, and now coaching. Firing Ruff to elevate Rolston is just stupidity, even if it is interim. Approved by Pegula. Spend millions on a country club locker room and what does it get you? A last place team with one of the highest payrolls in the league. This team is in disarray and it starts with the decision making.

Now comes this pet project-it is certainly that-which for the immediate moment thrills a select handful on this site. A consensus of positive reactions include, "I can play hockey and drink beer, this is progress, something is happening," this is all kitchen table, plastic lawn chair thinking. Some here question what views? The skyway, the shrubbery by the coast guard base. Well these things will not be here in 20 years but this erector set will. Now for the foreseeable future, it will alter the viewscapes and eliminate any tangible development that could compliment the waterfront without any drastic obstruction. Even the dated HSBC atrium is an obstacle to fantastic development possibilities in the corridor that stretches from Michigan Ave. to the waters edge. The planning possibilities were endless. Not anymore.

Where were these great urban planners and designers from UB when a symposium was needed to address this. Instead of promoting junk collections in residential homes they should have been seizing the opportunities to step up and put some PLANS out there for discussion. I give Matthew Ricchiazzi credit for thinking and creating discussion. Even if it is a radical suggestion. It engages the thought process before somebody plops a project at our feet and everyone drops to their knees in praise. This isn't a public friendly project, it is a hockey consolidation project that takes way more than it gives.

nyc
nyc

yes.. that's why i pointed out that there is no public leadership. community activists will always come to the table with alternatives, some realistic, most not, but it's ultimately its the responsibility of public leaders to insure intelligent planning and sensible design. And believe me these issues have been pointed out to the Sabres before at outreach meetings...but they could care less as there is no motivation to change the plan. it's the city's responsibility to it's citizens that the same mistakes are not being made over and over. This building is part of the heritage of urban planning in buffalo..impede, sacrafice, give-a-way the public domain for the hopes that this or that project will finally be the one that allows us to turn the corner downtown. It has yet to happen after decades...why is this different?

whatever
whatever

Perhaps spilled milk now, but …

if instead of presenting that unfunded totally-different alternative plan with 10-story hotel and rinks on so many roofs, if the opposition had used actual photos of the view from Perry St and pointed out how the sky blockage (& intangibles) could be improved by making the bridge smaller with a bit less parking… and focused on that, not things like 'discourage walkablilty' or overly dramatic stuff condemning the whole project, etc.,

…. it might have had a better chance of being listened to.

Media several days before the board meeting could've published actual pictures of the view in question from Perry, and some constructive public debate might've happened instead of just the well deserved critiques of the alternative presented at the meeting.

In other words, trying a scalpel instead of a sledgehammer.

Or maybe not - there's no way to know now.

whatever
whatever

nyc - first, I didn't keep saying that you guys are saying it's about water.

I said it at first a few days ago as the initial point, then only pointed it out again yesterday replying to 300miles' mentioning (in general) of water & canals.

Otherwise I said non-water stuff (trees) visible now, plus things 300 said including concerts, ships, etc...

I tried to use 300's non-water description of what would be blocked.

Second - okay, now this time you did - first time anyone has in this thread - reply with something that the HarborCenter bridge would block from Perry but the future Canalside buildings wouldn't block - some sky.

nyc>"the concern is for buildings bulging over or onto public rights of way that block your terminal view down the street as well as the sky and create an inhospitable environment beneath…"

That looks true … maybe half or more of the part of the sky in between tree tops and Skyway would be blocked by HC bridge, but probably wouldn't be blocked by a future planned multi-story Canalside building on Main across from Perry. Most or all of the current terminal view (treetops/etc) would be blocked by future CS buildings.

Fair enough - it answers what I asked.

Although much sky above Skyway would remain visible from Perry above a HC bridge, some portion of sky now visible below the Skyway wouldn't be.

That seems the only tangible difference about blockage, except for the HC bridge blocking the above-1st-floor part of a future CS building itself.

The rest seems intangible, which isn't to say can't ever be important to anybody as I agreed when Tim said that.

An 'inhospitable environment beneath' could depend on if there during rain. Sometimes being under the bridge could be more hospitable, perhaps usually in clear weather less hospitable.

LouisTully
LouisTully

"would you be for it? "

I already answered that the last time you asked it.

I hope you don't lose sleep over this. Because there's really nothing you or your hero Donnie Esmonde can do to stop it. I'm very happy you don't like the project. Otherwise I might have to be near you.

GiveMeThe Rock
GiveMeThe Rock

First Ward: I like the project because you don't like it.

Old First Ward
Old First Ward

That is the question to you. You are thrilled about the project because it involves hockey and beer. If it was something that didn't interest you would you be for it?

Personally, I don't care about the rinks, if it is an appealing structure with a good design, fit, and symmetry along use of materials that appeal to the historic nature of the area, then I am on board. But this project is bad for this location for many reasons. Don Esmonde waited too long to cast his criticisms for his column. At least he came out and let everyone know this is a bad design and location.

Here is something else to think about. You criticize the Senecas, but how is Pegula any different than the Senecas? He has the main venue the Arena. That by itself is a monopoly. Now add the additional parking (which takes away the surface lot business), the hotel (which steals customers from the other hotels for himself) and the two rinks (which takes a lot of business from the suburban rinks especially if he books a lot of of suburban stuff down here) Maybe he will add a nice big bar and take business from Pearl St. and the Cobblestone. It is nice to have more money than your competitors, and friends in city hall.

nyc
nyc

it's not about the view to the water. there's massive confusion here..nobody is complaining about buildings built on parcels of land designated for development blocking views to the water. and don't list 10 quotes from different posts trying to prove otherwise...because i don't know what to tell ya, its just not the issue.

the concern is for buildings bulging over or onto public rights of way that block your terminal view down the street as well as the sky and create an inhospitable environment beneath creating a psychological barrier and a zone that is proven over and over in urban enviroments as a failure.

And the stupidity here is that they don't even need the parking spaces they are providing over the street - those parking spaces are getting built to help alleviate parking pressures elsewhere. How freaking stupid to sacrifice the quality of public spaces on the waterfront because the medical campus will be short of parking. AND then they wipe out any opportunity for public parking along any of the surrounding streets. you could probably add 100 parallel parking spaces ringing that building...and street parking is critical here. People have a gut negative reaction to pulling into a garage if they can find street parking.. it's convenient and the thought that they might find a space is a huge incentive to drive down with the intent to walk around or shop or what have you. It's bad planning on multiple fronts and a shame we couldn't get this right.

I do recognize that this is a huge private investment and in the long run will likely be a good thing but there is no public leadership in buffalo on these issues. NONE.

whatever
whatever

boss, thanks.

nyc - thanks too, but seems fact not opinion that the Canalside plan diagrams themselves include buildings which would block the same view from Perry St.

(maybe those buildings won't happen if Canalside doesn't draw enough private investment - but it's in the plan, the award winning one, the one Tielman & Esmonde praise, the one some people didn't like to see Cuomo taking credit for...)

The opinion part is it seems strange how the west-facing view from Perry St is suddenly a big objection about HarborCenter but hasn't been a complaint from Tielman or you guys about the Canalside plan.

Or was that same complaint made about it and I just didn't know?

If you say the same complaints have been ongoing about the Canalside plan on behalf preserving a view from Perry St, I'll take your word for it.

But is anyone really saying that?

LouisTully
LouisTully

Also, you know ED's proposal had an even BIGGER parking garage with offices above it, something so plentiful in Buffalo there are many that sit vacant creating zero tax revenue or activity.

My question: would you still be such a cry-baby if it were offices above an even larger parking garage instead of the winning proposal?

JazzFan
JazzFan

Unfortunately for basketball fans, Buffalo is not an NBA city. If it still was, my guess is that the project might have included basketball courts too. If the owner of the arena was an NBA guy and they were the number one tenant - probably moreso.

The fact is that hockey is the main function at the FNC, the Sabres are in control, Terry Pegula is paying the bulk of the costs and the theme of the new build is hockey - a sport that is embraced by a huge number of WNYorkers. Sorry for the NBA fans, or college basketball or tennis or whatever.

Not sure what else you might be implying with your comment......

LouisTully
LouisTully

You're comical. Like, you're funny. Because you have no idea what you're talking about.

To answer your question, I would still think it's a better project than ED's. Though, basketball courts don't command quite the attention or create the same draw, considering there are basketball courts all over the place... and ice time is at a premium in WNY.

And to respond to your comment I'll just say: why don't you come on out to a bar league game when it opens and see how much fun people have when they don't let their miserable attitude get in the way.

"As soon as some goof starts pounding down beers then hits the ice and starts fighting will end that forever if it even gets that far. "

Where has this happened? How come every rink, perhaps except Dann Memorial, has bar leagues if your concern is so valid? The Metro at Buff State has a rep as a scrappy league and they don't cut it there.

Old First Ward
Old First Ward

Would you be so enthusiastic about this project if the venues above the five story parking garage were basketball courts instead of hockey rinks? I highly doubt it. You and many others would have viewed it from a much different perspective.

Don't be so sure that rinks will be for "bar leagues." As soon as some goof starts pounding down beers then hits the ice and starts fighting will end that forever if it even gets that far.

The Boss
The Boss

whatever brings up a really good point...the land between Main St (under skyway west towards the boardwalk is planned to have multi-story buildings on it, that pretty much will block any views from east of Main.

The Boss
The Boss

More discussion is also why it took us 50 years to get canalside

LouisTully
LouisTully

I'm sorry. But just like telling preservationists it's time to reload and reengage the next project, it is time to focus on the next task at hand. There are small battles to be won, sure. But, all-in-all, this project is full steam ahead. I'll be playing some bar league here in 2 years and having a dozen Blues after and toasting to my mates that this fantastic project was completed.

nyc
nyc

it's true that historically there have been blocks cut up and streets removed - back in the day. Its a trademark of the era of urban renewal and the mega block. As designed that project would never get built now.

saltecks
saltecks

Not always true. The Javits Center is built across 4 or 5 city blocks and cuts the views to the water.

nyc
nyc

man you do your research. but the real point is, beyond this "you can or can not see the water" business is that building over a street is always bad practice especially when the section over the street is low and predominately parking. It impacts the public street in a negative way and is characteristic of the city's attitude towards its streets and public spaces. If they removed the parking portion over the street and just left the high, rink portion, i'd be fine with it. But including the parking makes the overhang low and uninviting and severs the two sides of the waterfront - canalside from the cobblestone district. It's bad news and not debatable. Feel free to have your opinion though.

whatever
whatever

300 - ok but for viewing from Perry St, doesn't the Canalside plan itself violate the following you wrote?

"Every view towards canalside and the waterfront should be open to allow potential views of the water and canals, the people, the concerts, tall ships, sunsets, etc… "

Water & canals aren't visible from Perry anyway regardless of bridge or no bridge, but I'll leave that in because it's the same point either way.

Aren't buildings planned (at least hoped for?) in that portion of Canalside which would block the view from Perry of "the water and canals, the people, the concerts, tall ships, sunsets, etc"?

Those on page 4 in here, to left of Webster Block

http://www.eriecanalharbor.com/pdf/MuseumOperatorRFP.pdf

Won't those 2 unspecified buildings (hoped for commercial development?) - the brown shapes, a 4-sided one on Prime St and a 5-sided one on Main, be at least 2 or 3 stories tall?

If even those buildings in the award-winning Tielman-approved Canalside plan itself would also block the same west-looking view (of Outer Harbor tree tops, or a tall ship passing by, sunsets, concerts, etc) from people on Perry St anyway...

then how important can that view be?

Why would an awesome plan intend to eventually block it?

How can you guys say it's fine if or when those future hypothetical buildings would block a view from Perry St of trees, concerts, sunsets - but it's unacceptable if the HarborCenter's bridge proactively blocks the same view?

300miles
300miles

It's more than just what specifically is on the other side (which is canalside in this case), it's also the visual cue that the street or the district ends there. Decking over the street gives the feeling of boxing-in the area. It's not as bad as an actual wall, but it still is a way of separating two areas.

It's probably more important in areas with outside visitors and tourists because they don't necessarily know what's on the other side.

Every view towards canalside and the waterfront should be open to allow potential views of the water and canals, the people, the concerts, tall ships, sunsets, etc... anything and everything that could draw people to what is supposed to be our tourist destination. Cutting off any view or boxing in cobblestone with airbridges just goes towards defeating that potential.

PaulBuffalo
PaulBuffalo

Don't forget the NYC community groups that can comment, too.

rb09
rb09

Some discussion is good.

Too much discussion and analysis is crippling...

Buffalo seems to cripple itself by not getting past discussion and analysis.

Now, lets get these projects completed and move on to the next ones !

nyc
nyc

Hello..in reference to New York City, you could NEVER build harbor center as proposed. View corridors are defined along all public right-a-ways leading to the water. You can not build anything that infringes upon that view corridor...you can't even plant trees within 15' of the centerline of it. You definitely could not put a massive parking garage over the street.

nyc
nyc

street parking provides accessibility, the perception of accessibility, the protection of pedestrians against moving traffic, the provision of loading zones for adjacent businesses...a street has many functions. And this isn't a huge grip of mine, just consistent with the careless approach the city takes with these projects and it gives away public assets.

biniszkiewicz
biniszkiewicz

I'm one of your few up-votes. This project's speed does make it look a bit like: Ready! Shoot! Aim!

brownteeth
brownteeth

You're really grasping at straws here my friend. Seriously? blocking the sunset? I must have forgot about all those tourists that set up lawn chairs on the sidewalk in front of HSBC atrium every night to watch the sunset. I also forgot people don't actually hang out one block west on the boardwalk that has both direct views of the water and sunset. This silly notion of having buildings in our downtown core is so passe'.

whatever
whatever

hamp>"closing off a street"

But for HarborCenter, isn't it true that no streets are being closed off?

whatever
whatever

You're welcome, no prob.

I like parking lanes in general, but wouldn't think removal of any equates to lessening of access when a street is otherwise left as is...

especially if it's true that there will be end up being somewhat of a surplus of parking around there anyway.

nyc
nyc

right "parking lanes eliminated"

thank you for pointing that out.

nyc
nyc

yeah it is a bit dramatic but i think i am just tired of seeing this happen over and over again. Overall this is a good project but i just do not understand why nobody in the city has the balls to stand up and say "no you can't do that". The city bends over every which way for this stuff..like:

1. giving fulton street to the senecas because they threatened they'd be forced to build an "urban casino" if not..

2. giving paladino mohawk place for private parking eliminating potential public street parking that would support small businesses on the 500 block

3. letting benderson put a hotel drop off and turn around on the east canal.. a several million dollar public investment that is intended to have retail and restuarant frontage...not its just a super fancy drop off.

4. letting the sabres build a mammoth parking garage that hangs over perry street and infringing on washington by 18'.

5. and now the carlo...it sits on the alignment for bridge access to the outer harbor.. is the city intending to kill that option or do they know what they are doing?

6. Nevermind the countless public space give-a-ways in the past..They Hyatt, Main Place Mall, convention center.. I just do not think any of these has been beneficial to downtown. Making streets and circulation less hospitable in the name of development is one way the city gnaws at itself in its hunger for development...the results are never good.

Shoey
Shoey

You're right, I had completely overlooked that the tower wasn't always occupied by HSBC. This completely invalidates all of my previous arguments.

Jay D
Jay D

Youre so right. I can hear the tourists now...."Hey, lets go hang out on Perry Street and watch the sunset!!! Wait, what the hell? Why is this awesome building in the way? How dumb! Never coming back to Buffalo again!!!"

Jay D
Jay D

Seriously tho, what "views" are you talking about??? You wont be able to see the Skyway from Perry Street?

Travelrrr
Travelrrr

This is a total embarrassment.

Up and coming
Up and coming

And in other news HAMP, you could always just walk to Main St side of this building and keep you precious view. PS if people in NYC cared as much as you do about waterfront view from every part of the city I bet it would still be filled with Dutch farms.

whatever
whatever

ofw, temporary closures for construction aside, didn't you write something inaccurate to say this?

OFW>"But he may be referring to the permanent closure of Scott St. west of Washington St. starting at the Buffalo News."

http://www.buffalonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130205/CITYANDREGION/130209533&template=printart

"The larger footprint the Sabres are acquiring will expand slightly into Scott Street but won't affect the actual street or right of way there, said Corporation Counsel Timothy A. Ball. "

Who has their facts wrong - you or the reporter Ms. Terreri?

Just asking.

Old First Ward
Old First Ward

Take a look at the second picture just under the thread title at the top. The one with the fence across Main St. with barricades that says "Road Closed"

But he may be referring to the permanent closure of Scott St. west of Washington St. starting at the Buffalo News.

whatever
whatever

nyc - I'm just curious what public rights-of-way are you implying would be given up for this?

No streets are being closed off for HarborCenter.

http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/news/2013/02/12/sabres-say-harborcenter-cost-rises-to.html?page=all

'… The planning board, among its actions, approved a land disposition agreement that will allow for slivers of Washington, Main and Perry streets to be “abandoned” for a portion of the project. All three streets will remain open to traffic, with only parking lanes abandoned. …'

LouisTully
LouisTully

@Old First Ward  Hey.  There's adult leagues.  Several of them.  Just letting you know.

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