Buffalo’s Outer Harbor is an emerging public landscape of nature preserves, industrial relics, and outdoor recreation set between Lake Erie and the Buffalo River. Building on a successful transformation of Buffalo’s Canalside district, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC)—a subsidiary of New York State’s economic development agency—seeks to activate the Outer Harbor through capital improvements and creative programming. ECHDC retained OLIN and a multi-disciplinary consultant team to develop a capital plan for the First Buffalo River Marina, a 15-acre site that will serve as a new gateway to the Outer Harbor.
Named for its prominent address on Buffalo’s industrial riverfront, the First Buffalo River site was a key location for grain storage and transfer between Great Lakes freighters and eastern railroads during the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, the site still features one of Buffalo’s iconic and historically significant concrete grain elevators, the Connecting Terminal and Annex. After the Connecting Terminal ceased operations, the site became a popular sailboat marina benefiting from deep, protected water with easy access to the lake.
The goal of the capital plan is to enhance and upgrade the marina while opening the landscape to public access and enjoyment. As a visually prominent icon of the Outer Harbor and the landing point for a seasonal ferry, the site is a natural gateway. It will also become an Outer Harbor destination offering a unique blend of water-based recreation, ecological restoration, and industrial heritage. The OLIN team presented three conceptual options for the site at a public open house in November 2018 and anticipates completion of the capital plan for a preferred alternative in April 2019.
Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation