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Aud rubbernecking just got a lot easier Camera lets public watch razing on Net

A live, bird's-eye view of the demolition of Buffalo's Memorial Auditorium is now just a mouse click away.

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. has launched "Harbor Cam," a video camera mounted on the top floor of the HSBC Center that looks down on the Aud and the Buffalo waterfront.

"It's a really cool way to let people see what's going on down there," said Jordan A. Levy, chairman of the harbor development agency. "Seeing is believing, and we're making progress."

Images from the camera can be viewed, starting today, at www.eriecanalharbor.com.

The camera, located outside Levy's office window on the 38th floor of Buffalo's tallest building, can be zoomed in on the Aud or refocused to take in the entire Erie Canal Harbor neighborhood. Users will be able to pan across the waterfront area from the Cobblestone District to the east over to the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park to the west.

That viewable swath of the downtown waterfront includes the 20-acre site that will be redeveloped as the $325 million Canal Side project. Demolition of the Aud is the first critical step in that effort, clearing the way for construction of a Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World store, Great Lakes Museum and public green.

"This camera will let the entire community witness what's going on at Canal Side. They'll be able to follow the project all the way through from demolition through construction," Levy said.

While today marks the first day of live Harbor Cam viewing, the camera has been in place and capturing Aud demolition action since late January. The harbor agency's Web site includes a feature that allows visitors to watch time-lapse shots chronicling the arena's exterior demolition.

The views are compiled in five-minute intervals and can be printed from the site. The time-stamped shots are accompanied by weather data.

As of Thursday, crews from West Seneca-based DEMCO Inc. had opened up a section of the north wall and roof where the main entrance lobby once stood. The selective razing is aimed at creating enough room to drive cranes, bulldozers and other heavy equipment inside the building.

The machinery will then be positioned on the basement level of the arena, with crane booms lifted up to begin removing the Aud's entire roof.

"They'll be taking down 21 trusses and pulling the whole roof down. That's going to be fun to watch," Levy said.

Once the roof is gone, DEMCO will drop the outside walls. In the next 90 days, the 69-year-old landmark will vanish.

Construction of the Bass Pro store and other developments on the Aud block are to start before year's end, pending the outcome of an environmental impact and design review.

Conversion of the adjacent Donovan State Office Building to a mixed-use complex with a totally new exterior is on a similar timetable.

e-mail: slinstedt@buffnews.com

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