Erie Harbor Canalside Infrastructure
A mixed-use real estate development project that will revitalize the historic Buffalo inner harbor area with year round dining, shopping, and recreational activities has reached a major milestone with the December 2014 opening of the Ice at Canalside. LiRo is providing construction management and environmental services for infrastructure components in a 5-acre parcel, which will form the basis for future development.
The Erie Canal Harbor was originally built in 1825 as the western terminus of the Erie Canal. For much of the 19th Century, the ensuing canal and rail traffic transporting goods through Buffalo from the Atlantic seaboard across the Great Lakes transformed the city into the largest inland port in the nation. With the arrival of automobiles in the early 20th Century, canal traffic decreased, leading to the demise of the Harbor as a major hub. The canals were eventually covered over with stone and dirt to make way for streets and other development, including construction of the Memorial Auditorium, which stood on the site from 1940 until its recent demolition.
The project has restored several streets and canals which had been covered over decades ago. The restored canals are now filled with water and fountains in the warmer months, and a complex refrigeration system in a mechanical room below the canals permits a wintertime transformation to an appealing skating rink. Standing at the exact spot where center ice was once located in the old Memorial Auditorium, it is the largest outdoor rink in the state. Three streets – Lloyd, Commercial, and Lake Streets – have been restored in their original locations, and new historically accurate bridges span over the canals to connect them. Installation of extensive custom fabricated granite canal walls and site retaining walls were essential to recreate the canals. The project was funded by New York State, New York Power Authority, and National Grid. Development of the site will continue with the construction of a children's museum, hotels, restaurants, retail, and residential space.
Preparing the ice on the recently restored canals.