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Grain/Concrete Silos Could Become New Waterfront Attraction | News

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Grain/Concrete Silos Could Become New Waterfront Attraction
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BUFFALO, NY - The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) hopes it has hit upon a unique way to use some landmark structures along the Buffalo River as a tourist attraction, without spending millions of dollars to improve or renovate them.

"We've been talking about the grain elevators for years, and we really haven't had a good comprehensive idea of what we wanted to do," said Thomas P. Dee, President of the agency spearheading the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars to create a downtown showplace called Canalside, in announcing the authorization of
a contract worth up to $300,000 to light the structures and use them as part of a multi-media presentation aimed at attracting visitors to Buffalo's waterfront."

It looks like something like this, that's already done in Quebec City," Dees said, while holding up a glossy photo of something called the Aurora Borealis, which involves the lighting of several similar structures in that Canadian city, and which has become a nightly attraction there.

ECHDC aims to see if the hulking concrete structures in Buffalo can be similarly lighted, and become a canvas to portray the history of the city in particular, through a multi media production staged on the sides of the silos.

"This is exactly what we're trying to do through the whole Canalside theme," noted Dees. "It could involve anything... it could be the formation of the Great lakes, or how the Erie Canal was built...there are so many things that happened in Buffalo in this (waterfront) proximity. So we take that story to the grain elevators (and portray on them) stories that they can tell as a movie, as an image, or as a picture."

For close to two decades the City of Rochester utilized a wall of the Genesee River gorge to attract visitors to its downtown area, portraying the region's history through a laser light show. The attraction was discontinued a few years ago, however, due to waning interest and rising costs.

Pending approval of the owners of the structures in Buffalo, Dee says the hope is to have a pilot demonstration up and running this summer.

"We don't own any of them (the grain silos), so we have to do the study, and we have to go to the owners and say, 'here's what we'd like to do, here's our master plan'."

Generations have seen Niagara Falls in lights on a nightly basis, and in more recent years, the Peace Bridge has become somewhat of a night time attraction through custom lighting as well.

Now the ECHDC hopes the silos in Buffalo can become the next "big thing".

"It'll be another attraction that people can come downtown to see, while recreating these great massive structures and show them in their infinite beauty," Dee said.

In other developments at Canalside, ECHDC approved a measure to double the number of seasonal dock spaces along the Buffalo River, and named Sam Hoyt as interim Chairman of the Board while a successor is sought for Jordan Levy, who recently stepped down from that post.

Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Dooley O'Rourke.

Click here to read Dave McKinley's blogs.

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