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Grain elevator light show expected to boost tourism

Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation gave the go-ahead, Wednesday to fund a lighting display that it hopes will generate tourist traffic to Buffalo.

The Lighting installations will illuminate the city’s historic waterfront grain elevators, as well as the nearby Skyway and Ohio Street Bridge.

The design, lighting and engineering services will eventually cost a total of $5 million.

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation President Thomas Dee says the plan’s expected to make Buffalo’s Canalside precinct a major tourism destination in New York State.

“It brings people to Buffalo, it brings people downtown and it makes them stay here and then they’re going to see some of the other architectural treasures that we have. They will enjoy canalside, enjoy some of the great things that we have and spend the night. And that translates if we get a 100,000 people the difference between a day visitor and a night visitor is about $100 a head which is about 10 million return on investment,” said Dee.

Dee says the lights will be displayed year round and include an animated video that will be projected onto the Connecting Terminal during the summer months. The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation Chairman Robert Gioia says the light shows will not compete with any other events happening at canalside.

“There will be a certain effect that will relate to being at Canalside, but also will tie in with some of the events going on downtown,” said Gioia.

The lighting display will be comparable to the Aurora Borealis Project in Quebec City and is expected to be up and running by next fall.

Final design and construction of lighting for the Michigan Street bridge and the General Mills complex could also begin if phase 1 of the project is under budget and outside funding is secured.

During the meeting plans were also approved to bring more restaurants to Canalside. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said they could be looking at putting up some signage to direct tourists through the inner and outer harbors as-well.

Ambiances Design Productions, who are responsible for the Aurora Borealis Project in Quebec City, and Foit-Albert Associates will provide the lighting design and engineering services for the final design of phase 1 of the Grain Elevator & Bridges Illumination Project.