"City of Lights" project needs significant federal funds

Cover Image
Photo credit Artist renderings of the "New Silos" as part of the City of Lights Proposal.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - SWBR Architects successfully pitched their "City of Lights" design to a group of professionals in urban planning by touting its "world class user experience" that could start immediately and provides alternatives to driving on the Skyway. The group was the winner in the seven-month Skyway design ideas competition.

SWBR Architect's design would remove both ends of the Skyway and use the remaining portion of the road as the "Skyway Park", which would provide panoramic views for pedestrians and cyclists along a one-mile stretch of the former Skyway. It would add 12 acres for development between the Outer Harbor and Canalside.

The Canalside end of the Skyway would include a vase-shaped bridge deck that includes an art gallery, greenhouse, plus retail, restaurants, and event spaces. The opposite end would create the "new silos", a mixed-use building with an amphitheater and food bazaar on the ground floor, a cultural and technology center on the second floor, and a boutique hotel with a green roof and observation deck on top.

All told, SWBR's design is an estimated $330-$340 million project that estimates a five-phase construction that would end in 2032.

"The end result could cost as much as $600 million," Zemsky said.

Congressman Brian Higgins, who was in attendance at Tuesday's announcement, is optimistic that the funding can be secured for a massive project such as this.

"This is a major, major push forward and it's been a long time coming," Higgins said. "When you do waterfront development, I think the most important thing is to stick with it. Sometimes there's not going to be immediate gratification. Sometime it's going to take decades. I think this city is worth the investment."

Higgins said he will work with state officials and transportation officials to ensure the funding is secured.