By Janet Schultz
NY Hockey OnLine Magazine
The media had a unique experience this past week, touring HarborCenter. We talked up several flights of stairs to what will be the parking ramp. Covered in plywood and tubing, the workers are readying it over many, many yards of concrete.
Walking to the edge of the ramp we looked over what will be retail shops, a restaurant and the hotel.
The view of the city in the distance, the Skyway traveling just to the West and above and the reflection the crane in the building to the East was breathtaking.
We could feel the excitement as John Koelmel, HarborCenter president and Cliff Benson, chief of development officer for the Buffalo Sabres talked about the project.
“We are on time,” said Koelmel. “Next October we will be ready to go with the rink, restaurant, retail and ramps.
“Mortenson Construction is doing a great job of keeping us on track.”
“There is passion in this workforce,” said Benson. “This team is proud of what they are doing and what they are bringing to life.”
“This is moving as fast as any construction project anywhere in the country,” said Benson. “Seventy-five percent of the workforce comes from within a 100 mile radius.”
More than 120 construction workers are on site six days a week totaling more than 58,000 hours of work thus far.
While fans may find some inconvenience traveling to Sabre games this season, the “WOW” factor will take over when they see updated renderings of the buildings on display in the First Niagara Center and as they walk past the construction of this $172.2 million project.
Come October 2014 fans will park in the parking ramp and utilize a pedestrian bridge that will link the third floor of HarborCenter to the second floor of the First Niagara Center.
The first floor will contact retail shops that are still in the negotiation stage as to who the tenants will be.
“We have had numerous inquiries from groups that want to partner with us,” said Koelmel.
We stood in the “kitchen” of the sports-themed restaurant that will be run by the HarborCenter and not a franchise restaurant.
“This will be under the Pegula umbrella,” said Koelmel.
“We have been working with Erie County Harbor Development and other constituencies around here because we want this to be as user friendly as possible,” said Benson.
They are looking at traffic flow and how to move people in and out of the area easily and safely.
In Fall of 2014 both harbor projects will be complete, the Casino has come on board and there are new restaurants in the Cobblestone District and the NFTA renovated their station.
All of this will make Downtown Buffalo and the Harbor Front the place to be for years to come.
A few facts:
•There is a special elevator just for the Zamboni.
•5,672 cubic yards of concrete have been placed, a standard driveway uses six cubic yards.
•89,818 feet of post-tensioned cables have been installed (the green tubing in the photos)
•Three-quarters of a mile of underground plumbing and 1.7 miles of underground conduit have been installed.
•Shoring towers to support the pedestrian walkway over Perry Street are up to 32’ 4 1/2” at the tallest points.
•This will be the first three-rink facility in the NHL.