Tonawanda News

Columns

March 19, 2014

DUVALL: Four years later, WNY a different place

Tonawanda News — A random assortment of thoughts tumbling out of my scrambled brain:

It’s been four years since First Niagara Center played host to the NCAA basketball tournament. Stop for a moment to consider how different visitors coming back will find our waterfront in just that short time.

The parking lot in front of the arena? There’s a hotel and hockey complex under construction.

A block past that? The old boarded-up office building is now a sleek, modern office tower.

Next door to the arena? That was barren wasteland. Now it’s a lovely park with a boardwalk overlooking the inner harbor.

On the other side? It used to be one bar in the Cobblestone District. Now there are several quality restaurants and a comedy club.

And that’s just a few blocks. The medical campus, the revival of the Hotel Lafayette and the Statler. And that’s only the top-level projects. There are scores of old buildings that have been or are being repurposed as high-end condos and innovative open-plan office space.

The same can be said for North Tonawanda on Webster Street with the Riviera expansion, rejuvenation of an entertainment district, the Remington Lofts and Gateway Harbor Park.

This isn’t your father’s Western New York and it’s incredibly exciting to be living in a place that finally, after generations of decline, feels like it’s on the rebound.

Imagine what it’ll look like around here in another four years.

•••

Still haven’t found that plane, huh? How is that possible? I saw “Gravity” — there are about a million satellites in space. Can’t we point them at the ocean and see what’s floating around?

•••

There are likely to be some loud cheers at the FN Center this weekend when Syracuse plays what will effectively be two home tournament games.

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Columns
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