BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - Sources tell Eyewitness News that Bass Pro is pulling out of plans to build a store in Downtown Buffalo.
A spokesperson for Rep. Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo) said the office received a letter just after 2 p.m. Friday from the Springfield, Missouri-based retailer stating their intentions not to come to Buffalo.
"We are withdrawing from further consideration of this development," said Higgins' spokesperson Theresa Kennedy, reading from the letter.
The store was to be built on the site of the old Memorial Auditorium, which was demolished last year.
Grant Loomis, Director of Communication for Erie County Executive Chris Collins released the following statement:
"The County Executive is disappointed Bass Pro has decided not to be a part of the Canal Side project, but he is very confident the leadership of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation will be successful in attracting another noteworthy anchor tenant. The County Executive believes Canal Side will be a transformational project for Buffalo and all of Erie County."
Less than two weeks ago, Rep. Brian Higgins informed Bass Pro officials they had 14 days to sign a lease and commit to the Canal Side project.
Today, the following letter was sent to Higgins from Bass Pro:
July 29, 2010 VIA FEDERAL EXPRESS
Honorable Brian Higgins
27th District, New York
Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
431 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
RE: Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World® Store
Buffalo, New York
Dear Congressman Higgins:
This is a response to your letter of July 19, 2010, regarding the proposed Buffalo, New York, Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World® Store. We appreciate your interest and support for the Canal Side project in general, and our proposed store in particular.
Unfortunately, we cannot respond favorably to the lease draft forwarded to us by the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation within the fourteen day time period you requested in your letter. There are numerous critical reasons for our position, including the fact that several major issues fundamental to the successful completion of the project remain unresolved.
We have in good faith expended significant time and invested well over one million dollars in working with ECHDC and many other supporters on due diligence and design, first with the Aud, and then with the current Canal Side master plan. We hope our efforts and suggestions prove to be beneficial to the project over the long term.
Congressman, we agree with you that this process has taken far too long as we have also tried to remain patient and positive toward the project as significant issues were identified that have caused repeated delays. You stated in your letter that the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation could proceed successfully with the Canal Side project without our involvement. We believe this approach would be in the best interests of all parties, and earlier today informed the ECHDC that we are withdrawing from further consideration of this development.
During our many visits to Buffalo we have come to appreciate the beauty and history of the Buffalo waterfront. We wish you and the ECHDC every success with the Canal Side project.
Bass Pro, Inc.
Higgins released the following statement in response to the Bass Pro decision:
"Western New Yorkers have waited fifty years for waterfront development to happen and we aren't waiting anymore. After nearly a decade of talk there comes a point when this community should expect our business partners to either sign on the dotted line or we as a community must again stand up for ourselves and demand we move forward.
“I will be asking Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation to develop a revised plan with emphasis on public infrastructure that will help us to reach our full waterfront potential. Thanks to our hard work over the last several years we have over $100 million in NYPA funding immediately available to implement that plan.
“The potential for a great Buffalo waterfront is emerging; we know it and we see it with the increased crowds at the Inner and Outer Harbor today. The last nine years of limbo is unreasonable and unfortunate but today, with nothing holding us back, we continue the momentum we already see along the water’s edge.”
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