Amid blustery winds as dawn broke Thursday, workers at the HarborCenter construction site in downtown Buffalo were well on their way to pouring the equivalent of 275 concrete driveways over Perry Street to connect the new building to First Niagara Center.
The pouring of more than 1,200 cubic yards of concrete for the bridge beams marks a major step in the $172.2 million hockey and entertainment project, which officials say is about one-quarter complete.
It paves the way for workers to pour the rest of the fourth and fifth floors, and then to put up the structural steel for the sixth, seventh and eighth floors. It is also a critical step toward being able to reopen Perry Street below, possibly by the summer, officials said.
“It’s a pretty large milestone,” said Ryan Poropat, lead project supervisor for M.A. Mortenson Co., the Minneapolis-based general contractor overseeing the HarborCenter project for the Buffalo Sabres and owner Terry Pegula. “What you’re seeing today is the first pour of the fourth floor.”
The Sabres are building a 20-story mixed-use facility on the former Webster Block. The project will feature two National Hockey League-size rinks and training facilities, a full-service 205-room hotel to be called the Marriott Buffalo HarborCenter and a two-story restaurant, plus street-level retail space and a five-level, 850-space parking ramp.
When completed – expected in September for the ice rinks, restaurant and retail, and May 2015 for the hotel – it will be the first three-rink complex, including the Sabres’ home ice across the street, in the NHL.
Work has been under way for months, starting with the excavation of 35,000 cubic feet of dirt, including some contaminated soil, and the driving of more than 1,000 piles into the ground to support the construction. Two giant yellow tower cranes have been in use every day. the site.
By spring, Poropat said, the structure should be up and enclosed so that crews can turn their focus to repaving the streets below, including new sidewalks and curbs.
Portions of Main, Scott, Perry and Washington streets will all be repaired, with the goal of reopening Perry by midyear. Poropat said the project is 14 days ahead of schedule.