Canalside potential grows with Marriott annoucement

With the news that a Courtyard by Marriott will occupy the balance of the Donovan Building, development at Canalside appears to finally be ramping up.

According to the Business First report, the Marriott will fill the balance of the remodeled Donovan Building once it is completed late in 2013. The Marriott is expected to occupy the second, third and fourth floors with Phillips Lytle covering the upper four. The first floor has space to house retail or restaurant space.

This is a major step forward in the development of Buffalo’s waterfront district. Event when plans for the Donovan Building were unveiled, there wasn’t a commercial tenant like this to anchor the second half of the building’s space. With a national hotel chain placing 96 rooms and the potential of 192 beds a few feet from Canalside and a stone’s throw from First Niagara Center, the Canalside development now has a true cornerstone.

When Phillps Lytle announced they would be moving into a re-skinned Donovan Building last year, it was a huge step forward. With a national tenant signed on and the potential for two restaurants to anchor the ground floor, this is now a building that will attract some staying power to the Canalside district.

Perhaps the most important development with this announcement is the fact that a national chain has identified Canalside as an attractive destination for business development. With Marriott in their back pocket, Benderson can truly begin luring big names to build or occupy the Canalside development.

One chain I’ve been praying for is Dinosaur BBQ. There are reports that the restaurant has been looking at locations in Buffalo to occupy. I don’t see why a new build at Canalside wouldn’t be the best step for them to take.

Picture this: Dinosaur BBQ building a new location in Canalside with canal-era architecture. Combine that with Liberty Hound (in the Naval Museum), the new restaurant(s) expected to occupy the Donovan and the quartet of eateries along Mississippi Street in the Cobblestone District. That is without even considering the proposed public market that could incorporate a food court atmosphere with numerous restaurants from around WNY as the main attraction.

The ability to secure major chains for Canalside is pivotal for effective development. You don’t necessarily need to turn Walden Galleria inside out and place it along the water. However, if the goal is to create a true destination; Canalside will need to be more than just lawn chairs and homemade t-shirt shops.

Having Marriott settle on this location is the first step of many to turning Canalside into the gem that everyone hopes it will be. Doing the legwork to secure more businesses – both retail and food service – will be the next major step.

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