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Colored Musicians Club, Outer Harbor expansions approved

Buffalo Planning Board
A rendering of the Colored Musicians Club expansion.

Two community attractionstook major actions forward Monday, in front of Buffalo's Planning Board.

The Colored Musicians Club received a go-ahead from the Planning Board Monday, clearing the way for a $2 million expansion of the landmark entertainment space and museum.

While the club has long been a key element of the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor, it was down-at-the-heels and not handicapped accessible, but still attracted crowds for its history in music and Buffalo's Black community. Now, it will be larger, better able to serve customers and the community and even more of a presence at Broadway and Michigan.

Architect Phil Snyder said the attached addition makes it even more visible.

"This element really is intended to front Michigan Avenue and acknowledge the whole Michigan Street corridor, to really create a landmark at the corner of Broadway and Michigan for the Colored Musicians Club that will relate both to Michigan Avenue and Broadway," Snyder said.

Next door landowner Rebecca McCauley told the board she had some qualms about a wall of the Colored Musicians Club facing the site of her planned day care center.

"There are no windows at all that face our property," McCauley said. "Basically, it's just a very large brick wall, which I'm not sure that I want to agree to or not, or if anybody has thought about adding some windows in that space."

The project had been approved earlier by the city Preservation Board.

The Planning Board also recommended the Common Council approve creating another attraction on the Outer Harbor.

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation wants to turn the former Terminal B, at the southern end of the property into an outdoor events center, along with new pedestrian and bicycle paths. The project would strip the roof and metal shell to add a stage for concerts with a great view of Lake Erie.

Credit Buffalo Planning Board
A rendering of the new stage on Buffalo's Outer Harbor.

Mark Wendel, senior director of design for the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, said it's all part of improvements on the Outer Harbor.

"This is a continuation of our further renovation and restoration of the Buffalo Outer Harbor," Wendel said. "We completed a lakeside bike park back in 2019. This site is just west of it, along the Lake Erie edge. This restoration and building renovation is over about nine acres."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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