The massive HarborCenter project taking shape in downtown Buffalo is one-fourth of the way toward its completion a year from now, as dozens of workers swarming the site have already put in nearly 60,000 man-hours of work, and officials prepare to pour the concrete beams that will link to the First Niagara Center.
John R. Koelmel, HarborCenter president, and Cliff Benson, chief development officer for the Buffalo Sabres and owner Terry Pegula, said the $172.2 million project is on schedule for the opening next September of two full-size ice rinks, a two-story restaurant, two or three retailers and a five-level parking ramp with 850 spaces.
The 200-room full-service Marriott hotel on the upper floors will open in May 2015 but should at least be framed by this time next year, officials said.
HarborCenter has not announced any details about the high-end sports bar, which will be located at street level of the building at the corner of Washington and Scott streets, but expects to do so in the coming weeks, Koelmel and Benson said. However, both said it will be run by HarborCenter, not a national chain. “We’ll own and operate the restaurant,” Koelmel said. “This isn’t going to be a franchise. This’ll be under the Pegula umbrella.”
Similarly, officials expect to announce the retail tenant for the space at Main and Scott streets shortly, but have only “just started the process” for selecting tenants for one or two retail spaces at the Main and Perry corner of the building, Koelmel said. He said they’ve had “numerous inquiries as to who wants to partner with us.”
When completed, the 20-story entertainment, hotel and retail facility, coupled with the First Niagara Center itself, will represent the first three-rink operation in the National Hockey League.
A pedestrian bridge will link the third floor of HarborCenter to the second floor of First Niagara Center, where the upper-level store is now.
More than 120 construction workers – mostly local – are on the site six days a week. They’ve worked 58,000 hours in all, the equivalent of about 30 years.
“This is a team that’s unbelievably proud of what they’re doing and the difference they’re making,” Koelmel said.
Crews have placed 5,672 cubic yards of concrete, installed 1.48 million pounds of rebar and 89,818 feet of post-tensioned cable for the concrete decks, and installed three-fourths of a mile of underground plumbing and 1.7 miles of conduit.
In the coming weeks, workers will pour 1,100 cubic yards of concrete in a single day to form the grid pattern of eight-foot transfer beams that will stretch across Perry Street between HarborCenter and the First Niagara Center. By comparison, one official said, a typical driveway takes just six cubic yards.
That will link the buildings and provide the base to support the fourth, fifth and sixth floors of HarborCenter, including the pedestrian bridge, two floors of parking and the NHL-quality ice rink. Cars will drive on Perry Street underneath.