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Children’s museum for the waterfront gets approved

The Explore & More Children’s Museum was given the green light Wednesday to build a four-story stand-alone building on the South Aud block at Canalside.

The approval from Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp.’s board of directors allows the museum to move forward on building a museum with eight play zones. The space will have almost 43,000 square feet – almost 4,000 more than an earlier mixed-use building planned nearby.

Groundbreaking is expected in late 2016, with an opening in late 2018.

“It’s been a long time coming to get this museum to the waterfront, but what I’m consistently impressed with is the continued passion not only from us, but from the state,” said Matt Davison, the museum’s president. “Once this is down there it is going to be a great attraction.”

Davison said the museum’s busiest months are typically among the slowest on the waterfront, so Canalside will benefit from the families it drives.

“Our busiest times are in the winter – January, February, March – when people have cabin fever, and now those people will be on the waterfront.”

Davison said he sees the museum as a “clearinghouse” for city and suburban children to come together and learn from one another.

The state agency, which owns the land, is paying $9 million to plan and construct the building – about $1 million more than the previous building.

“ECHDC shares Explore & More Children’s optimism and enthusiasm for a children’s museum on the South Aud Block,” Chairman Robert D. Gioia said. The museum will add to our success for making Canalside a year-round attraction for all ages.”

Explore & More, which will occupy the space rent-free, has raised $7.3 million toward its $10 million goal.

email: msommer@buffnews.com

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