Former State Senator Al Coppola is working with a team of preservationists, activists, and community leaders to redevelop the long defunct lighthouse that sits at the southern entrance of Buffalo’s outer harbor.
The lighthouse was once used to assist industrial ships who accessed the southern end of Buffalo harbor during the city’s industrial heyday.
The structure has fallen into an unusable condition. Supporters say that a restored lighthouse could be the type of catalytic investment property than generates new activity on the city’s waterfront.
A lack of road access to the structure makes redevelopment challenging — but supporters can imagine a unique reuse opportunity that embraces that challenge. They can imagine a seasonal restaurant and bar that you can only access by boat.
The panoramic waterfront views are striking.
The site is located just north of the old Bethlehem Steel site, where new wind turbines soar over the massive industrial site’s overgrowth, which has become an expansive de facto bird sanctuary. Organizers of the project see the unique location — situated at the crux of one of the largest North American migratory bird corridors — as being a key feature of the redevelopment.
“During the summer months, these fields are covered with birds so densely, from afar it looks like snow,” explains Senator Coppola, who supports designating the site as a natural regeneration area and bird refuge.
Coppola sees potential in building up a recreational tourism industry around the historic site.
Advocates for the site suggest that it could be developed in a way that is inclusive of boaters, bird watchers, and restaurant goers.