Developers say the revitalization of Buffalo's waterfront is several steps closer to becoming reality. Construction work has begun at the old site of The Aud.
Construction crews are making way for the planned reflection pools and canalside area at the former site of the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium. They're removing beams which were supporting the old building as well as protecting the sewer system underneath.
Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation president Thomas Dee said, "These had to come out to make ready for what's going to happen on top of them which is the canal, so we're going on to existing piles, cutting them down and putting new pile caps on top of that."
Six different contractors bid Thursday for work on the next step of the project, which will include expanded waterfront access in downtown Buffalo.
Corporation Communications director Erich Weyant said, "You're going to have proof of progress and you're actually going to see construction beginning and it won't be a matter of questions or dreams. It's going to be a reality."
It's not the only big project in the area. Across the street, renovations on the Donovan Building have also begun.
"Right here at the foot of Main Street, right at Canalside on the waterfront, you're going to have two $30 million projects occurring at once so that's tremendous," said Weyant.
"It's exciting for Canalside. These are anchors and it's the tipping point as well," Dee said.
Darlene Krawczyk works downtown at the HSBC building.
"Walk by here every day, because I park behind the atrium, so it's very exciting to start seeing something happening after all the years of talk, speculation, arguments in some case. What should we do? What shouldn't we do? So yes, it's very exciting."
Developers say now that they're breaking ground, people will be able to see tangible progress quickly.
"We're actually going to have the capability to enjoy ice skating on the surface, so people will be down here at this point next year having a good time."
Developers say they'll award the bid for the project in about a month, which will bring hundreds of construction jobs into the city.