Buffalo Pipe Dream: An aquarium on the Outer Harbor

My third Buffalo Pipe Dream will be about a true pie-in-the-sky idea that would probably have little to know chance of coming to fruition in this city and in this economy. After part one and two, this is going to seem a little ridiculous. However, I had brought up the idea before.

I’d like to see a state-of-the-art aquarium built within the Buffalo city limits, not an aquarium that would rival the Georgia Aquarium, but a substantial attraction to the city to boast. Ideally, the aquarium and zoo would work hand-in-hand as one super awesome entity.

Considering the space that would be required for a proper aquarium, the outer harbor would make for a wonderful home for this new piece of development. The amount of empty land would even allow for the Zoo to be built right next door, but that seems unlikely. After all, the recent capital improvements that have been made basically locks the Zoo into place indefinitely. At this point, any changes to the Zoo will require expansion into Delaware Park. There should be no hesitation to do so, either. Expanding the Zoo to help compete with others like the Cleveland would be a wise step to take.

Having the Zoo located on the Outer Harbor with this new aquarium enters my mind because it would keep things tidy. You could have both attractions right next to each other with the ability to visit both without needing to drive anywhere. Not to mention, the space on the Outer Harbor would allow for an expansive Zoo to be built. But, it’s cool if there won’t be a zoo to accompany this idea. I really like the Buffalo Zoo, so I’m cool with it not being moved.

As for an aquarium, it is high time Buffalo gets a proper one. While it isn’t a necessity, it is one of those things that are a terrific addition to any waterfront development. Not to mention that the Niagara Aquarium is a complete joke and needs to be replaced. Putting a sparkling new aquarium a hop and a skip from downtown would certainly solve that problem.

My reasoning behind picking the Outer Harbor is because there is a ton of space, there is no concrete plan for the land and there will soon (I hope) be a direct connection between the arena district and the Outer Harbor. That is, of course, if the Harbor Bridge is ever built.

The land is really the main motivation for my thought process. There will be nothing to restrict the development or the planning of this type of project out on that property. The Outer Harbor is such a hugely expansive property that there would be no restrictions as to where an aquarium would fit. Not to mention, providing a serious piece of development for this space seems to make a whole lot more sense than simply making it a park.

Don’t get me wrong, creating a massive park that could be similar to Central Park in terms of size, scope and services would be outstanding. However, to put it on this type of landmass would ultimately be an underutilization of the property. I’m certain a tremendous number of people would take advantage of a park on part of the Outer Harbor, but making nearly the entire property a big huge park seems foolish.

At some point a line needs to be drawn on the creation of green space and public access. It is absolutely necessary to provide public access to these lands and to ensure they don’t sit idle for another 25 years. However, you can’t honestly say that the best use would be to plant some new grass, pave a few bike paths and call it a day. The same thing can be accomplished on a quarter of the land and provide the same access in a terrific setting. The NFTA or ECHDC need to identify a developer who will not only provide something that is economically viable, but that keeps the property open to the public. An aquarium would do just that.

Obviously a proper aquarium would take a massive amount of capital that probably doesn’t exist in Western New York. That is a shame simply because an aquarium would be a terrific, family-centric piece of development that could provide an additional thing for families to do when visiting the area.

Even though this isn’t a very realistic project to hope for, it is exactly the type of project many have been calling for. Maybe they haven’t explicitly asked for an aquarium, but this would be a money making attraction that continues to provide public access to an area devoid of activity and development.

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