School of Architecture and Planning

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The Idea of Heritage Development

Executive summary

Buffalo's Opportunity

The Economics of Heritage Development

Urban Design and Heritage Development

Exhibit of Historic Views

Heritage Development
- a Case Study

Group Discussion Sessions

A Summary of the Conversation

Content Analysis
(coming soon)


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The Fireboat "Edward M. Cotter" - Empire State Development Corporation

Founder and Chairman, A Canal Conversation

John (Gurtler), thanks very much. Good morning one and all and on behalf of John and every other wonderful volunteer and colleague and individual and community group that collaborated to make this magnificent event possible, a warm welcome on a typically soft and bright Buffalo morning.

As we tried to say last night, I think it was John Adams who said, “We cannot guarantee success, but we can deserve it.” And I think, principally we deserve success for ourselves and our region and our magnificent city when we participate in inclusive and collaborative discussions such as this. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have played a small part in crafting this wonderful gathering.

As John said, we began last night with a magnificent tour — actually yesterday afternoon. Our almost dozen speakers and experts from around the nation, these wonderfully eloquent and compelling Americans from whom we are about to hear today, had a terrific time touring our Inner Harbor on the Edward Cotter and thinking about this very site-specific challenge with which we’re presented here.

When this first occurred to me, this idea of A Canal Conversation, I turned to several greater minds than mine in an effort to think through, and as a logistical matter figure out, how we might be able to attract the type of experts and experience and knowledge that we’re going to hear from today. An old college professor of mine, Senator Moynihan, recommended heavily that I perhaps think of partnering with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, America’s most prestigious preservation group and one that, of course, has enormous obligations and tests to discharge throughout the country beyond certainly our humble region.

And, everyone with whom I spoke said: there’s one woman who you have to have involved. Her name came up over and over again and her admirers are legion throughout the country. And, think about it, what a noble and enormous contribution you make to this nation to devote your life to sustaining and overseeing and ensuring the continuation of the American story and heritage that’s reflected in our architectural and historic treasures.

So, I got hold of Wendy Nicholas who is here with us today and I said, “Wendy, I have this small idea. I thought maybe, perhaps, in an effort to advance this public policy challenge with which we’re faced here in Buffalo, that we could have this conference and have this discussion.”

She said, “Kev, that’s a great idea. It’s really wonderful. Good luck.”

I said, “No, no, Wendy. We need your participation.”

And again, I can’t tell you how much it means to me and indeed to this effort, that Wendy was kind enough, after a little bit of encouragement, to contribute not only the imprimatur and prestige of the National Trust, but her own time and energy and knowledge. Without it, we wouldn’t have been able to attract the magnificent minds that we have here this morning.

By the way, I’m just going to interrupt for one moment. We have some very distinguished guests here this morning: a number of students from the Buffalo School District. Would you guys stand up and take a bow. (applause). In many ways, we are doing this for you: those of you who are going to be responsible for and indeed crafting Buffalo’s future story, so, thanks for being here.

Wendy’s roots, by the way, in connection with Western New York, did not begin with this conference. Her father was a long-time colleague of the magnificent Barber Conable, a representative from this region in the United States Congress, and I was pleased to hear that when we first met. So, without further ado, I would like to introduce the woman who really was quite responsible for assisting and collaborating so that we could all be here this morning, the Director of the Northeast Regional Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Wendy Nicholas. Wendy.

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Wendy Nicholas

Director, National Trust for Historic Preservation

I’m going to have to throw out what I was going to say. Kevin tells an accurate story and I have to say that I haven’t had so much fun in a long time since getting recruited to help with this Canal Conversation. Listening to Kevin this morning, I’m reminded all over again why, as a high school student, I started down the path in historic preservation and have been working in this field ever since. One of the things that I love about historic preservation and working with communities is the opportunity to work with so many people who really care about the place that they live and they want to make it better. (applause).

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