The Buffalo waterfront was once home to thriving maritime industry intermingled with bustling mixed-use development--a world-class model for the best of what waterfronts can be. In the early 20th century, Buffalo was the wealthiest city in the nation per capita; by the end of that century, it had become one of the poorest. Until recently the city’s once-great waterfront lay fallow, contaminated by industrialization and void of destinations.
PPS's involvement began with a community visioning symposium, “Imagine Buffalo’s Waterfront,” hosted by the Canalside Community Alliance and run by PPS founder Fred Kent and then board member Tony Goldman. Tony and his brother, Mark Goldman, were both involved from the start as catalysts for the project. After hearing the community’s inspirations and aspirations, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) shifted their focus from bringing in a large chain towards local ingenuity and entrepreneurship. The ECHDC hired PPS to build upon this community visioning process to activate the waterfront utilizing "Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper" (LQC) strategies to incubate uses and test the master plan before construction began.
PPS worked alongside community leaders through a committee structure to refine and translate the visioning into an implementation plan. A variety of LQC capital improvements were made to prepare the site to host over 300 events and 500,000 visitors in the summer of 2010. This first year of programming was wildly successful. The ECHDC has built on the PPS report over the past several years, continuing to implement LQC strategies while working on long-term capital improvements. They have added new programming every year and have expanded their selection of year-round programming. Also in line with PPS recommendations, they have enhanced the "Canalside" brand through a strong web presence. In the few short years since PPS started, the Buffalo waterfront has become a true community destination.