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Last pieces of HarborCenter coming together

hc3008The last two pieces of HarborCenter – a 205 room Marriott hotel, and a retail concourse abutting Main Street which will house four shops, are set to be in place and open for business by the time Labor Day comes around.

Last month HarborCenter revealed the names of four tenants – Fowler’s Chocolates, Clayton’s Toys and Gifts, Modern Nostalgia and Red Siren, and all will be opening stores in spaces abutting Main Street and directly north of the Sabres Store inside First Niagara Center, offering the first retail synergies for Canalside since the district was envisioned over a decade ago. Work is ongoing in the spaces and the stores plan to open in July.

Originally planned with a late spring target date for opening, the Marriott HarborCenter is now slated to be ready to invite its first guests sometime around the Labor Day weekend in early September. Members of the media were invited to get a sneak peek into the facility and look at the progress of the buildout of the interior spaces.

Marriott HarborCenter guests will enter the building via a small entrance lobby at ground level, where an elevators will whisk them to a massive grand lobby on the 7th floor, dubbed the “Great Room”, offering floor to ceiling windows and sweeping views of Canalside and the Buffalo River. This area contains check in facilities, lounge areas with a two sided fireplace, and a VIP club area as well as adjacent meeting space.

With a lot of interior finishing and wiring still remaining to be done, as well as some work on the exterior facade, nonetheless fixtures, laminates and furnishings are already being set in place in some of the rooms, and make no mistake, the rooms facing the west side and the waterfront definitely have some of the nicest views, even with the Skyway in all its splendor.

Huseyin Teran, hotel general manager, indicated that there will be no over attempt to brand the hotel in Buffalo Sabres blue and gold colors, just like the HarborCenter facility itself has its own distinct colors and logos. Guests will be able to access the ramp and other parts of HarborCenter without having to go outside. A covered drop off area will be located on the Main Street side.

Almost all the NHL visiting teams currently stay at the Embassy Suites Hotel at Avant on Delaware Avenue, and it is speculated that much of that business will move over to the Marriott HarborCenter once it opens. Teran responded only by saying they are pursuing any and all business for the hotel, without specifically naming NHL clients.

Sabres operations manager Stan Makowski indicated that construction fencing and barriers which remain in place on Main Street will be coming down once the retail space opens in July. “We’d like to get them out of there tomorrow but until the remaining exterior work is completed and we can insure safety for pedestrians while having scaffolding in place, that safety zone needs to remain intact,” said Makowski. He added that sidewalks and the street will be fully repaved, just as was done on the other three sides of the structure.

The Marriott HarborCenter joins a number of prime hotel properties which have opened in downtown Buffalo in just the past year. Two more hotels – a boutique hotel in the old Curtiss building on West Huron, and a new Westin hotel in the new Delaware North headquarters on Delaware Avenue, are slated to open in the coming year.