Work is expected to begin next week on the $5 million East Canal park project stretching between Washington and Main streets that is one of the latest components of the Canalside development.
The East Canal project is envisioned as an outdoor public space that will feature fountains, seating and a tree grove just south of the former Donovan State Office Building, which now is being renovated into office and hotel space.
Those two projects, combined with the HarborCenter office, hotel and ice rink development from Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula, are key parts of a spurt of development activity along the waterfront that has brought more than $200 million in private investment and $50 million in public funding to the two-block area, said Robert Gioia, the chairman of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp.
“There is an amazing amount of work and an amazing amount of activity,” said Thomas P. Dee, the development corporation’s president. “It’s just a boom down there in terms of construction activity,” with work also beginning on the HarborCenter project.
In all, a total of 725 events are expected to be held along the 21-block waterfront area this year, up markedly from around 100 just a few years ago, said Sam Hoyt, the regional president for Empire State Development.
Even more important, he said, the waterfront is slowly being transformed from a summertime destination to a year-round magnet for activity.
“We’re recognizing that this is not a June, July and August destination,” he said Wednesday during the development corporation’s monthly meeting.
“There’s something to do every day now at Canalside, and now part of that will be construction watching,” Dee said.