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Developer deserves credit for promising project will reflect Canalside’s heritage

And, to quote a famous former congressman, the beat goes on.

Indeed, that is part of the point of the planned 14,000-square-foot building at Canalside, according to Benderson Development, which unveiled a conceptual drawing for the structure this week.

The company shares “the common goal of maintaining the momentum of the Canal District and ensuring that the snowball rolling down the hill continues to grow,” said the company’s vice president of development and leasing, Eric Recoon.

That “snowball” is the remarkable development of Canalside over the past few years, most recently featuring an insanely popular outdoor skating rink. That opened just last week and followed by only a few weeks the debut of the (716) restaurant in HarborCenter. And before that was Shark Girl and the Benderson redo of the old Donovan state office building that produced the Courtyard Marriott and new law offices for Phillips Lytle.

You get the idea. The momentum at Canalside would be head-spinning anywhere, but is especially so in a city that for decades saw little development and virtually none around its waterfront. It is important at this point not to allow it to flag. The need is to create a critical mass of destinations in a once, but no longer, forlorn district.

Benderson’s new effort to fill that need is a rectangular building of four or five stories at the intersection of Scott and Washington streets, across from HarborCenter. Its ground floor will include a restaurant, possibly Hofbrauhaus, a small chain that usefully echoes the style of a Bavarian beer hall. Offices and residences would occupy the upper floors.

Benderson is known mainly for its suburban-style office buildings, but it says it plans a structure in keeping with the history of the area. “The mindset is to create something that is timeless and also reflective of the history and heritage of the Canal District,” Recoon said. That’s just the right approach. The Architecture Review Committee set up by the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. will evaluate the design and should make sure it complements the Canalside environment.

Preliminarily, though, the project sounds like a worthy addition to Canalside. Benderson hopes to begin work on the project in 2015. In that, it will ensure that development continues when the HarborCenter hotel project is completed, also in 2015.

And coming soon: ferry service to the Outer Harbor. Sonny Bono didn’t know the half of it.