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Fountains, seating, trees planned for Canal site parcel

An outdoor public space that will feature fountains, seating and a tree grove just south of the former Donovan State Office Building is headed for construction this spring.

Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. representatives will appear before the Planning Board today to present plans for the $5 million East Canal park project at 125 Main St., part of the Canalside development that is transforming the waterfront.

Update: Project wins approval from Planning Board

The parcel, which will stretch between Washington and Main streets, will be filled “with fun things to do,” Thomas P. Dee, corporation president, told The Buffalo News in October.

“I think it will be a cool, hip place where you will want to get your coffee and read the paper,” Dee said.

Bids will be awarded in early March, and construction is expected to begin in April. The space will open with the Donovan Building early next year, according to the development corporation.

A water feature on the parcel will be made to look as if it is an extension of the canal to the west, on the former Aud block property, and will include a “canal pool” and “arched fountains.”

Visitors will be allowed to dip their feet into the water, though that won’t be encouraged, said Laura Magee, spokeswoman for the corporation.

The project serves as an ending of sorts for the entire Canalside development. The trees – which will meet the pool at the block’s approximate mid-point and stretch east to Washington Street – provide a natural end to the canals and will offer shade, which has been a request of the public. Running through the trees will be narrow streams, which will flow into the canal pool.

The parcel will be a connector for the replica canals that are being built where the Aud once stood, to the west, and will be immediately accessible to hotel guests staying in the former Donovan Building.

The development also will include pedestrian walkways, steps, retaining walls, lighting and granite seating, according to the corporation.

There will be walkways with metal grating over the canal, to allow pedestrians to see the water below.

Plans call for winter activities on the Main Street side of the site,. These would be passive activities, such as ice sculptures, not skating, Magee said.

The small strip of park, about a third of an acre, will sit south of the former Donovan Building between Main, Scott and Washington streets.

If a building is built just north of Scott Street – a mixed-use development is planned in the next few years – the East Canal development would be between that building and the former Donovan Building.

On the block south of Scott Street, the Webster Block, the Buffalo Sabres plan a mixed-use, hockey-themed development.

The former Donovan Building is being transformed by Benderson Development Co. into the home of the Phillips Lytle law firm and a Courtyard by Marriott hotel.

The Planning Board could vote today on the East Canal park project.