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Canal Side: Citizen Waterfront Forum Byron W. Brown Mayor

City of Buffalo Public Opinion Solicitation

Mayor Byron W. Brown issued a call to the public for ideas for the development of Canal Side on August 10, 2010, and the public came back with an overwhelming response. Solicitations for public feedback from hundreds of people were collected by e-mail, personal letters, and the City’s 311 web form and call line. As of September 9, 856 people responded with 1,757 ideas for the future of Buffalo’s waterfront. The 1,757 ideas submitted by the general public run the gamut from museums and retail stores to jetski rentals and brewpubs and water-themed attractions. The common thread across all the responses is a desire for the waterfront to become an exciting urban place, where restaurants, retail, entertainment, recreational activities, and cultural and family destinations - in short, “things to do” are embedded into an authentic, walkable district.

As expressed in the words of one local citizen, “Buffalonians love to eat, drink, and be entertained.” Solicitations for public feedback from hundreds of people were primarily collected through the City’s 311 web form (94 %) and call line (4%). In addition, ideas were gathered from personal letters (1%) and emails (1%).

Method by Which Public Feedback Was Gathered

800 600

801

400 200

37

12

06

311 Call Line

Letters to M ayor

E-M ail Link on City

0 311 Web Form

Website

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Mayor Byron W. Brown’s Citizen Waterfront Forum Presented September 13, 2010 The responses came in from Buffalo, the suburbs, and from expats across the United States and Canada. Buffalo residents, while comprising 24% of the population in the area of Erie and Niagara counties according to 2009 Census estimates, provided a robust 40% of the submissions. This shows Buffalo residents feel a strong interest in the future of Buffalo’s waterfront. At the same time, 52% of the submissions came from those living in communities in the area surrounding Buffalo (Erie and Niagara Counties), indicating that the waterfront is also a treasured attraction for residents in nearby cities, towns, and villages. 6% of communications came from outside the Erie and Niagara counties area, and many of these were from former residents of Buffalo. Among these, we received communications from faraway places like Kansas, Florida, Virginia, New York City, Denver, New Jersey, Toronto, Delaware, Washington DC, Maryland, South Carolina, Indiana, California, Michigan, Ohio, Nevada, Washington, and Pennsylvania. Only 2% of communications did not specify a place of origin.

Geographic Origin of Responses

500 400 300

442 346

200 100

55

13

Outside the Area

Location Not

00 City of Buffalo

M SA (Erie and Niagara)

Specified

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Mayor Byron W. Brown’s Citizen Waterfront Forum Presented September 13, 2010

What did the public have to say? In general, the ideas presented by the public can be grouped into four broad categories: Dining & Shopping, Entertainment/Recreation, Public Works/Infrastructure and Hospitality & Other Uses. An overwhelming 83 percent of the ideas submitted by the respondents were comprised of developing “things to do,” including dining & shopping establishments (45%) and entertainment & recreational venues (38%). In addition, the public recognized the need for investment in public improvements and infrastructure (12%) in order to develop a setting that can accommodate and attract private development. While other uses only mustered a relatively limited amount of support (5%), the need to develop hospitality venues to accommodate visitors to the waterfront was mentioned a number of times.

The ideas from the public were wide ranging, creative, and comprehensive, yet prominent themes emerge that offer direction on a course for action. Here’s a breakdown of concepts the public brings to the table for consideration. The frequency ideas were expressed and their ranking is indicated.

>> A desire for an attraction or series of attractions that captures the waterfront location was strongly expressed. Models in Cleveland, Baltimore, and Erie, PA, were frequently cited. Indoor water park - 77 Aquarium - 60 Bills stadium - 33 Amusement park - 17 Casino - 15 Cineplex/theaters - 11 Ferris wheel - 10 Convention Center - 9

IMAX - 7 Cruise ship/cruise ship port - 4 Go-cart racing - 3 Showboat - 2 Penguinarium - 1 Butterfly garden - 1 Bird aviary - 1

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Mayor Byron W. Brown’s Citizen Waterfront Forum Presented September 13, 2010

>> Civic gathering places and access to the water have widespread support. Amphitheater/bandshell - 58 Park/open space general - 48 Boardwalk/Riverwalk/trail - 21 Beach - 7

Fishing pier - 2 Hydroponics garden - 2 Community garden - 1

>> There is a strong desire for recreational, leisure, and sporting activities at the water’s edge. Ice/roller skating rink - 20 Paddle boat/canoe/kayak rental - 17 Indoor sports/recreation center - 17 Golf course/putt-putt golf - 16 Special events - 9 Gondola rides - 6 Gym/spa - 6 Batting cages - 4 Carriage rides - 4 Bicycle rental - 3

Arcades - 3 Winter activities/festival - 3 Tours - 2 Motor sports park - 1 Boat/jet ski rental - 1 Skating canal - 1 Basketball courts - 1 Yoga studio - 1 Flowrider - 1 Driving range - 1

>> The public overwhelmingly supports the waterfront’s development as a setting for restaurants, coffee houses, and bars. Entertainment districts such as Cleveland’s East 4th Street, Pittsburgh’s Southside Works, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Denver’s LoDo were frequently cited as models. Restaurants/coffee houses general - 126 Bars/brewpubs general - 58 ESPN Zone - 17 Entertainment district general - 13 Dinosaur’s BBQ - 13 Mighty Taco - 8 House of Blues - 7 Local restaurants general - 6 Tim Horton’s - 6 Wine tasting/wine bar - 5 Comedy club - 4 Anchor Bar - 4 Ice cream shops general - 4 Beach clubs/bars - 3 Hard Rock Cafe - 3 Legal Sea Foods - 3 Nightclubs general - 2 Restaurant in converted rail car - 2 Dave & Buster’s - 2 Cheesecake Factory - 2

Hofbrauhaus - 2 Hooter’s - 2 Spot Coffee - 2 Starbucks - 2 Rainforest Cafe - 2 Joe’s Crab Shack - 2 Salsarita’s - 1 California Pizza Kitchen - 1 Beef & Barrel - 1 Popeye’s - 1 Gentleman’s club - 1 Planet Hollywood - 1 Dunkin Doughnuts - 1 McDonald’s - 1 Chipotle Grille - 1 Nascar Cafe - 1 Banquet facility general - 1 CBS Scene Restaurant - 1 Nanobrewery - 1

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Mayor Byron W. Brown’s Citizen Waterfront Forum Presented September 13, 2010

>> There is a strong desire for museum and interpretive experiences that relate strongly to Buffalo’s heritage, culture, and Great Lakes/Erie Canal location. Museums general - 74 Weather Museum - 37 Erie Canal/Great Lakes museum - 25 Hawk Creek Wildlife Center - 20 Buffalo Maritime Center - 12 Children’s museum - 9 Comedy Hall of Fame - 9 Art or cultural park - 8 Bicycle museum - 8 Manufacturing/transportation museum - 8 Niagara Aerospace Museum - 5 Pan-America Expo museum - 4 Monuments to great Buffalonians - 3 Sports museum/Fandemonium - 3 Statue honoring Buffalo Braves - 2 Architecture museum - 2 Native American heritage museum - 2 National Parks Service Visitors Center - 2 Underground railroad museum - 2 Cinema Hall of Fame - 1 BECHS extension - 1

Buffalo Zoo extension - 1 Crime and punishment museum - 1 Tim Russert museum - 1 Automobile museum - 1 Shipwreck museum - 1 Albright Knox Art Gallery extension - 1 Lacrosse Hall of Fame - 1 Huge bison statue - 1 Immigration museum - 1 Science center - 1 Glass museum - 1 Buffalo Hall of Fame - 1 Cheerio’s museum - 1 Computer museum - 1 Ship museum - 1 Pro-life arch - 1 Genealogy center - 1 World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) - 1 Large American flag - 1 Digital literacy kiosk - 1

>> The public stresses the importance of historical and cultural authenticity in the waterfront’s build-out. Heritage-based urban/street design - 15 Focus on canal history (general) - 7

Reuse of the DL&W train sheds - 7 Expand canal infrastructure - 4

>> There is a segment of the public that desires the waterfront to develop as a walkable neighborhood with a significant residential and hospitality component. Hotels - 48 Condos/apartments general - 26 Mixed-use general - 2 Neighborhood general - 2

Bed and breakfast - 1 Artist live/work spaces - 1 Affordable housing - 1 Student apartments - 1

>> There is only limited support for use of the water’s edge as an office location, indicating a widespread preference for its development as a “resort” or an “escape from the 9 to 5” destination. Office space - 3 Attract high tech businesses - 1

Medical research - 1

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Mayor Byron W. Brown’s Citizen Waterfront Forum Presented September 13, 2010

>> Despite the departure of Bass Pro as a prospective anchor tenant, there is still widespread support for big box and national chain retailers in downtown Buffalo. Big box retailers general - 35 Cabelas - 35 Trader Joe’s - 34 Ikea - 31 LL Bean - 19 Wegman’s - 17 Against large anchor tenant - 13 Whole Foods - 8 Outlet mall - 6 Costco - 6 Gander Mountain - 6 H&M - 6 Lucky Strikes Bowling - 5 Crate & Barrel - 5 Barnes & Noble - 3 Super Wal-Mart - 3 Made in America Store - 3 Wilson Farms - 3 Borders - 3 Supermarkets general - 2

Target - 2 Dick’s - 2 The Gap - 2 Nordstrom - 2 Urban Outfitters - 2 Pottery Barn - 1 REI Sports - 1 Nike Factory - 1 Apple Store - 1 K-Mart - 1 Disney Store - 1 Best Buy - 1 Dillard’s - 1 Christmas Tree Store - 1 Le Chateaux - 1 Fry’s Electronics - 1 NY & Co. - 1 Fisher Price Store - 1 Ten Thousand Villages Shop - 1 Harley Davidson dealership - 1

>> The public’s support for an anchor tenant is buttressed by strong support for small retailers grouped to create a pedestrian shopping experience. Small retail/boutiques general - 129 Public/farmer’s market - 54 Local retail - 16 Gift shops/souvenir stores - 4

Made in Buffalo store - 2 Art galleries - 1 Flea market - 1

>> The public strongly supports establishing more direct access to the Outer Harbor and enhanced transit and intermodal connections. Tear down Skyway - 21 Bridge to Outer Harbor - 13 Expand LRRT - 10 Free parking - 9 Rann Webber concept for skyway reuse - 7 Water taxis - 4

Hide parking - 3 Reopen lighthouse site - 3 Multimodal transportation facility - 2 Heated sidewalks - 1 Light the skyway - 1 Handicapped fishing access - 1

>> There is some expressed support for environmental stewardship and performance. Clean water/fix sewage overflow - 4

Green energy - 2

>> There is simply a desire to get things done. “Just do something.” - 3

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Mayor Byron W. Brown’s Citizen Waterfront Forum Presented September 13, 2010

Observations About the Public’s Feedback The public did not overwhelmingly express a preference exclusively for local retailers. Instead, a large proportion of the feedback expressed optimism and hope for attracting national specialty restaurants and retail chains, particularly those that are not yet located in the Buffalo area. The public expressed some concerns about environmental performance, but did not express any concern for a living wage as a prerequisite for waterfront development. The feedback from the public reinforces many of the overriding goals and objectives of the Canal Side Master Plan.

Ideas that Stand Out to the Mayor The public’s overwhelming enthusiasm for an indoor water park or water-themed family destination is worthy of consideration. This can be an attraction for families that can be enthusiastically sustained year-round, giving families a fun activity to do even in the winter months. Other year-round attractions worthy of consideration are an aquarium, an IMAX theater, and a domed amphitheater. An idea for a National Parks Service Visitors Center is worthy of exploration for the foot of Main Street, which is the location of the terminus of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. The public continues to call for a Dinosaur Barbeque in Buffalo. Bicycle, jet ski, and canoe and kayak rentals would enhance access and waterfront activity with only a little investment and a big payoff.

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Mayor Byron W. Brown’s Citizen Waterfront Forum Presented September 13, 2010

The Public Speaks - Selected Quotations “Buffalonians love to eat, drink, and be entertained.” – Joe Mattiolo, Buffalo, NY “I would like to see the Skyway lighted in a similar fashion to the Peace Bridge.” - Rosalind Brown, Niagara Falls, NY “I would love to see a mix of local and national stores.” - Terrence James, Buffalo, NY “I think you need to put in something unique and entertaining all year round. What better thing to do then build an indoor waterpark resort in downtown Buffalo?" - Ryan Willard, Lancaster, NY “I think canoe, kayak, jet ski, and snorkeling rental shops would be a great idea.” - Mark Ambellan, Buffalo, NY “The International Weather Experience Center is a necessary and vital part of the future redevelopment of Buffalo’s waterfront. Buffalo’s weather is iconic throughout the region and country.” - George Lange, Buffalo, NY “Bringing the Great Lakes Museum or a state-of-the-art aquarium would be awesome.” - David Holland, Lancaster, NY “We need to attract people to the waterfront with a combination of entertainment, history, small shops, educational venues and open space.” - Louise Sweet, Orchard Park, NY “I would like to see smaller national retail at Canal Side mixed with local retail.” - Keith Szczygiel, Buffalo, NY “As plans for the new Canal District move forward, there is renewed opportunity for a National Park Service Visitor Interpretive Center adjacent to the re-watered Erie Canal.” - Al Labruna, Buffalo, NY

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Mayor Byron W. Brown’s Citizen Waterfront Forum Presented September 13, 2010

Appendix - Breakdown of Suggestions by Use Type Overall

1,757

Dining & Shopping Entertainment/Recreation Public works/Infrastructure Hospitality & other uses

778 667 212 87

Dining & Shopping Dining/drinking National chains/big box stores Small/local shops

367 268 153

Entertainment/Recreation Museums Other Attractions Recreational Opportunities Entertainment Venues

219 176 121 151

Public Works/Infrastructure Civic Space Transportation Heritage Other

99 63 33 8

Hospitality & other uses Hospitality Residential Employment

49 33 5

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Citizens Watefront Forum