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New waterfront attractions expected in 2019 include trail, museum, bike park

New offerings planned for Buffalo's Canalside and Outer Harbor in 2019 include a multi-use trail, children's museum and bike park.

Meanwhile, other projects planned in the coming years, both public and privately funded, will move forward with an eye toward opening in the next couple of years.

Here's what's expected in 2019:

Outer Harbor: Getting away without leaving the city 

A bike park, event lawn and multi-use trail are expected to open by Memorial Day.

  • The bike park will offer opportunities for different skill levels and types of riding, including off-road trails for mountain bikes.
  • The 4-acre event lawn, located at the southern end near Terminal B, will provide passive and active recreation. A nearby area will offer space for food trucks, public seating, a kiosk and viewing overlooks.
  • The multi-use trail will add three-quarters of a mile of paved paths to the existing nature trail. The path will run just north of the Terminal A and B buildings, and include bike racks, benches, Adirondack chairs and other amenities.
  • Restoration efforts at three habitat areas, where invasive species will be removed, will also be completed.

"We have a blend of habitat restoration, and passive and active recreation spaces that will enhance the Outer Harbor," said Steven Ranalli, vice president of development for Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp.

"It is becoming a great open space that will be a nice complement to what is going on at Canalside," he said. "You can get away from the city, and still be in the city limits."

The projects are funded by the state's Buffalo Billion economic program.

Outer Harbor proposals: From promenades to playgrounds, 'we have an option for you'

The waterfront agency is also busy coming up with what it sees as a comprehensive and coordinated approach for approximately 150 acres between Wilkeson Pointe and the Bell Slip, the 16-acre First Buffalo Marina, including the Connecting Terminal grain elevator and the Terminal B building.

An announcement will come by May, Ranalli said.

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp.'s board of directors will then vote to move into the design phase, with the projects likely to be phased in over a number of years, he said.

At Buffalo Harbor State Park, Charlie's Boat Yard restaurant will get an upgrade before opening for the 2019 boating season.

Canalside: Telling Buffalo's story

While the Outer Harbor is seen as a place for passive and active recreation, that's not the case for Canalside.

The future of the site is dense development that offers a mix of residences, office space, retail, and food and beverage establishments.

Recent developments have begun to put that vision into motion.

Heritage Point, which will front Marine Drive and be built at the eastern edge of the canal, is expected to break ground in the spring. Two buildings will offer commercial space on the ground floor and office and residential space above.

An undeveloped area once inhabited by Memorial Auditorium won't see any obvious changes in 2019. But a consultation team will begin in mid-February to plan and ultimately design the area for future development.

That will involve reintroducing the Canal District's historic street pattern, as well as adding lighting, sidewalks and other infrastructure to the 2-acre site.

Public outreach on plans for the site is also on the docket for 2019.

"What's occurring there will help us start to shape the neighborhood at Canalside," Ranalli said.

Details of a planned Benderson Development project, at Scott and Washington streets,  are also expected to be announced in the spring.

April should bring the opening of Explore and More – Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Children's Museum. The waterfront agency expects 250,000 people to visit the new brick building annually.

The history of the site as the western terminus of the Erie Canal will also be elevated in importance by the waterfront agency.

"We want to tell the story of Buffalo as we gear up to 2025 and the bicentennial celebration of the Erie Canal," Ranalli said.

A building that will house the building of an 1825 packet boat – like the one that led the flotilla from Buffalo to New York City for the opening of the Erie Canal – is expected to break ground in the spring.

The boat project by Buffalo Maritime Center, which will involve the public, is expected to begin in 2020 and take three years.

After the packet boat is completed, it will make visits along the Erie Canal and be moored at Canalside as a tourist attraction.

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