Forget the Memorial Auditorium Site — Let’s Bungee Jump from a Grain Mill
If you had the chance to go down to the waterfront in the last couple of years, they've done a nice job of redeveloping green spaces and opening things up for more events. Already canal side gets about half-million visitors. But what about the Memorial Auditorium site? That area has been vacant for several years now. Help is on the way with needed funding but is it enough to reinvigorate the waterfront and bring in tourists?
The Canalside project has been approved for buku-bucks in the area of $23 million. Yea, it's not quite Mega Millions money, but that's almost the same amount they had to do the Brian Higgins/Byron Brown redevelopment project that was completed a few years ago. Some of the dough comes from the Bass Pro money, but local leaders wised up, finally telling Bass Pro to jump in our Great Lake. Construction begins this summer on a bunch of smaller projects.
It's a start to getting things going on the waterfront, but I can't say I totally agree with the plan. The preservationists keep living in the past and want to restore every canal, grain mill and Olmstead this or that, and if you don't incorporate the Canal they raise holy hell. (Note to preservationists: Nobody is coming to Buffalo to see our grain mills. Keep one and get rid of the rest. It's not Disney World).
News flash-we need to think bigger if we want to bring in tourists!
While the city of Baltimore is a dump, they did a really nice job of making the waterfront thrive with loads of restaurants and businesses moving in. Cleveland is developing small little shopping centers with smaller anchor stores. The Buffalo waterfront plan does call for an ice rink, but that's a far cry from the sports multi-plex that leaders once talked about for the site. C'mon guys....Think BIG!!!
Here's my plan for waterfront redevelopment. Build a Walden Galleria type movieplex and restaurant area. Let them have it rent free for 10 years. Park a new Bills stadium there, build a 5000 seat outdoor ampitheater and if you MUST keep a grain mill, convert it into a nasty night club and casino where the unthinkable happens (What happens in the grain mill stays in the grain mill). Want a tourist attraction? Let people bungee jump down the middle of the silo.
And all those empty factories with blown out windows that make our city look like the dystopian future of the hunger games...blow them up too. Move in the University of Buffalo and let's build a golf course along the Lake (heck, make it mini-golf course, we already have windmills).
It's time to stop wondering what would have been if they hadn't built the skyway, or if the stadium was downtown. Let's do it! It would do a lot more than walking along the historic lines of an empty Erie Canal. Sure it would take billions, but it would actually work.