Construction on a hotel and ice rink complex near the inner harbor will close streets around First Niagara Center beginning Wednesday.
At 7 a.m., Perry Street between Main and Illinois streets will be closed, along with one block of Washington Street, from Perry to Scott Street.
Arena visitors are urged to use Michigan Avenue as an alternate route to approach and exit First Niagara Center, partly for parking reasons.
Motorists headed south on Washington Street approaching the arena will be directed to turn left or right onto Scott Street. There are more parking opportunities between Michigan Avenue and the arena, said Buffalo Sabres spokesman Michael Gilbert.
Scott Street will remain open for east-west travel.
HarborCenter, a $172.2 million development by the Buffalo Sabres, is under construction on a two-acre parcel north of First Niagara Center, bounded by Main, Perry, Washington and Scott streets. The complex will feature two ice rinks, an 845-space parking garage and a 200-room hotel, as well as a sports bar and restaurant, and retail space. Most of the complex is scheduled to open in September 2014, though the hotel is not expected to open until spring 2015.
When Washington Street reopens, it will be narrowed. The road is wide enough for four lanes of traffic, though it has just one lane of parking and two lanes for travel. Two lanes of traffic, one in each direction, will remain, but will be pushed to the eastern side of the roadway, as the equivalent of two lanes on the western side will be absorbed into the HarborCenter property.
During the street closures, visitors to the First Niagara Center box office and Sabres retail store will have access to free parking for two hours in the arena garage, which is accessible on Illinois Street and South Park Avenue.
Officers from the Buffalo Police Department will direct traffic at intersections during First Niagara Center events.
HarborCenter Development paid the city $2.2 million Friday for the Webster Block parcel.
As part of the agreement with the city, HarborCenter has rights to construct a third-floor bridge over Perry Street between the new development and the arena, making the entire complex the only three-rink facility in the National Hockey League.
Washington Street will be closed for an undetermined amount of time – weeks, but not months, Gilbert said.
Perry Street, the least-traveled of the four streets that bound the Webster Block, will be closed for much longer, possibly until HarborCenter opens in September 2014, to allow for construction of the bridge between the facilities.
The streets are being closed as crews relocate utility lines, which are buried. Once the utility lines are moved, construction above ground can begin, and heavy machinery should appear at the site late this month or early in April, Gilbert said.
Pedestrians will be able to approach First Niagara Center and Canalside throughout construction by using sidewalks on the eastern side of Washington Street and on the south side of Perry Street directly in front of the arena.
Main Street between Scott and Perry streets had been closed to traffic because of HarborCenter construction but will reopen before Washington Street is closed to allow traffic to move freely behind the area, via South Park Avenue, which turns into Main Street.