Bridges, a children’s museum and beer gardens are among the puzzle pieces coming together at Canalside.
Delivery of the second of three bridges that will be placed over historically aligned canals began Thursday, although the bridge arrived in seven parts at the former Memorial Auditorium site.
The Explore & More Children’s Museum, also planned for that site, took a major step forward with word that three foundations are giving $700,000 to make it a reality. A formal announcement will be made today.
Work on the Clinton’s Ditch beer garden continued, with completion expected Tuesday.
And another beer garden is now planned for a tract of land next to the East Canal and the Courtyard by Marriott, at the corner of Washington and Scott streets.
Meanwhile, the lighting of the Connecting Terminal grain elevator on the Outer Harbor facing Canalside – featuring a kaleidoscope of moving colored lights, images and patterns – is now planned for late spring next year or possibly, to maximize the effect, on July 4.
The progress at Canalside continued as families on a sunny summer day tossed Frisbees, mothers walked with strollers, children labored on crafts at picnic tables, and others relaxed on green, white and yellow Adirondack chairs, some in the shadow of the concert stage being readied for the Thursday at Canalside concert.
“This is a really great park. I love the chairs, I love everything about it. Summers in Western New York are the absolute best,” said James Foit, of the City of Tonawanda.
“I have to say, who would have thought they’d come up with such a wonderful idea?” said his sister, Barbara Messmer, who now lives in Southern California. “It is absolutely lovely.”
A large group of youngsters, wearing Amherst Youth & Recreation T-shirts, visited the ships at the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park.
The second bridge delivery this week follows the Whipple truss bridge that was installed at Lake Street less than three weeks ago. The pieces of the second bridge are expected to be fully assembled in the next several days and hoisted into place by crane to straddle the canal on Lloyd Street. The bridges are another telltale sign of the Aud site’s progress as the canals head toward a fall opening – and ice skating this winter.
The landscaping and lighting around the Clinton’s Ditch beer garden, a triangular-shaped area, is expected to be completed early next week, allowing the first fenced-in, outdoor area at Canalside where drinking is permitted. Beer will be sold at kiosks.
This beer garden may be open for only a year or two and is in response to public demand, said Tom Dee, president of Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp.
“People will love coming down here and having the opportunity to have a beer,” Dee said.
A permanent beer garden will be developed by Benderson Development Co., which earlier this year opened the former Donovan building now housing the Courtyard by Marriott and Phillips Lytle law firm. The beer garden has yet to be designed and is seen as more than a year away.
The lighting of the grain elevator is expected to become a major waterfront attraction.
“We’ll flip the switch for that in the spring, or possibly save it for July 4,” Dee said.
The children’s museum’s efforts to open in 2016 were given a big boost by $700,000 from the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, John R. Oishei Foundation and Peter C. Cornell Trust. The waterfront agency is expected to break ground next spring on the new building, and construction is expected to take about a year.
“Buffalo is the last city of its size not to have a children’s museum,” said Explore & More spokeswoman Jennifer Fee. “We’re on track and ahead of schedule on a number of things, and excited by all the community support we’re getting.”
The design calls for seven interactive play zones, including “From Farm to Fork,” a partnership with Wegmans Food Markets that will include a cooking lab; “Weather Wise,” where kids can experience climate in fun ways; and the “Rooftop Garden,” where they and their parents will be able to experiment with art and enjoy an expansive view of Canalside.