Rebuilt Ohio Street is seen as key to transformation

The rebuilt Ohio Street, which officially opened yesterday, is expected to serve as a link between the core of downtown Buffalo and the Outer Harbor, which itself is poised to undergo a transformation.

Financed with funds from the City of Buffalo, Erie Canal Harbor DevelopmentCorp. and federal Highway Administration, the $11.4 million project has turned a 1.4 mile stretch of Ohio Street from an industrial route to a thoroughfare for pedestrians, bicyclists and non-commercial vehicles, as well.

New streetlighting, landscaping and other improvements have been added. The work is 70 percent complete and will be finished by early spring, said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.

Brown, Rep. Brian Higgins and ECHDC President Tom Dee agree that the rebuilt Ohio Street will open the door for new private-sector investment.

“I see it happening organically, just like what we saw happen in Larkinville,” Brown said.

There are already signs from Doug Swift‘s Buffalo RiverWorks project on nearby Ganson Street to Sam Savarino‘s proposed Lake Erie Freight House redevelopment.

“What we will probably see is a mixed-use variety of projects,” Brown said. “This is still a heavy industrialized area of the city. We want to see more recreational uses along Ohio Street but, at the same time, we don’t want to lose the industrial base that’s here. The way the two coexist is critically important.”

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