To say the future looks bright for Canalside would be an understatement.
In fact, with hundreds of events still scheduled to take place this summer, there is no question that the progress made at Canalside over the past few years will be personally viewed by thousands of people looking to unwind and have some fun in the sun in downtown Buffalo.
While much progress has been made in the past and Canalside is currently experiencing a tremendous summer season thanks to numerous free activities for the general public to enjoy, the future plans for the waterfront property located between First Niagara Center and the Naval & Military Park has Western New Yorkers fantasizing of even greater things happening downtown.
Something For Everyone
What pleases major stakeholders in the community is the wide range of activities and special events that take place at Canalside on a daily basis.
“The diversity is what excites me and motivates all of us as we continue to develop and promote and celebrate all that our waterfront has to offer,” says Tom Dee, president of Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation. “People just absolutely love coming down here and having the opportunity to interact with others and experience activities that really are designed for the whole family.”
Dee says that in addition to the many compliments he has heard about Canalside from local dignitaries, business owners and Western New York residents, he regularly receives correspondence from those who reside outside of our region but who have had the pleasure of experiencing some type of celebration, festival or concert at Canalside.
“What keeps us going is to hear great praise from national and international vendors and marketing and promotional entities who simply cannot say enough good things about the progress we have made and how promising they think the future is,” says Dee. “We love that people are appreciating what we have done and, perhaps more importantly, that they are excited about the future, because of course we are because of the vision we have for our waterfront, specifically the Canalside property.”
Canalside Is The Place To Be
With discussions of existing restaurants and other area businesses wanting to open new locations at Canalside, Dee says it is hard to ignore the public excitement about entrepreneurs kicking the tires on potentially opening Canalside locations.
“Buffalo is changing and people are recognizing that Canalside is the place to be,” says Dee. “As Buffalonians, we deserve great things. Maybe in the past it was a situation where we felt we didn’t deserve something like Canalside to happen for whatever reason, but we have gotten over that inferiority complex and now that we are changing the face of Buffalo. With all of the events going on downtown and the development happening and the progress that we are making, the interest these exiting business owners have in possible establishing a presence at Canalside shows that Buffalo’s waterfront has become an attractive place to do business.”
Top-Notch Customer Service Is Crucial
Dee acknowledges that nothing spectacular happens at Canalside if the experience is not a pleasant one. Whether it be a group of teenagers looking to enjoy a concert, an older married couple just looking to enjoy the view or a civic organization looking for a place to allow their members an opportunity to meet in a truly unique setting, the desire to provide superb customer service is consistent for anyone involved with Canalside.
“One of the biggest things we have focused on is customer service,” says Dee. Offering world-class customer service is the key. We have activated access to the waterfront, we have promoted events and we are obviously attracting people to Canalside, but if we do not give them a sense of importance and show them that we appreciate their patronage, then we have failed not only ourselves but the community as a whole. That’s why customer service remains at the forefront of whatever we do so that we are constantly striving to really wow and blow away any visitor, whether they are someone who works downtown, someone who comes in from the suburbs or a visitor from another state or even another country. We want them to enjoy themselves and leave satisfied with the thought of ‘hey, I am definitely going to come back here’ because of how they were treated.”
The Changing Face Of Buffalo
The fact that the City of Buffalo has a dedicated space with waterfront access that gives opportunities to experience arts and culture, educational events, live musical entertainment, health and fitness options and so much more is something that still boggles the mind of the most pessimistic critics of our region.
“A lot of people that I have spoken to after they visited Canalside for the very first time say ‘it doesn’t feel like Buffalo,’ which to me I personally consider that to be a negative comment,” says Dee. “It is negative because it paints our community as someplace that shouldn’t be considered a waterfront community, but the fact is we are a waterfront community and plan to enhance that mentality as we continue or progress. I have also heard people who are a bit older say ‘I never thought I’d see this in my lifetime’ and I love that they have seen it happen and that they are here to experience and enjoy it. Even if it’s just to sit down and watch a sunset, that is a win in my book because they came down here and did that.”
Desirable Destination For Years To Come
When asked what does the future hold for Canalside, Dee is not afraid to share his personal forecast for Buffalo’s waterfront region.
“It’s becoming a destination and really a place you cannot ignore,” explains Dee. “Canalside will serve as a portal to all of Western New York and will be Buffalo’s front door, meaning the place you visit when you first come to Western New York. Whether you are a first-time visitor or someone who is moving back to the area after being away for awhile or maybe you make one trip a year or every other year back to Buffalo, Canalside is going to be the place you gather and figure out what you are going to do when you are in town.”
Dee believes in a simple philosophy about human nature and how Canalside’s presence fits into that theory.
“People will go where other people are,” says Dee. “What that means is as Canalside continues to grow not only in a physical sense but also in a philosophical sense of being THE PLACE to be when you are in Buffalo, there is no question in my mind that the future here is very bright because people will have to try really hard to avoid Canalside because everyone else that they know and want to spend time with will be here waiting for them. With the Explore & More Children’s Museum and all of the progress that is bring made with the beer gardens and the bridges and the plans to connect the Outer Harbor to Canalside and improve access, I could go on and on and on… like I said, people will go where other people are. And Canalside is where the people are now and will continue to be for years and years to come.”
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