BUFFALO, NY ( WKBW ) Now that a Bass Pro store is out of the running for Buffalo's waterfront, Swedish furniture retailer IKEA is said to be on the Canal Side planners short list of potential anchor tenants they'd like to try to lure. IKEA sells assemble-it-yourself home furnishings and the closest location to Western New York isn't even in the United States. It's in Burlington, Ontario.
"We still strongly believe that an anchor tenant is important to the success of Canal Side," says Jordan Levy, Chairman of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation. The goal of the ECHDC is to find a tenant that doesn't already exist in Western New York that will draw more people to the waterfront, but after Bass Pro backed out as the anchor recently after several years of negotiations, Canal Side planners aren't so willing to reveal who they're talking with now.
"It's been reported that there are some names (of potential anchor tenants). Rather than discuss names it is our objective to go out and hopefully find an appropriate anchor tenant that will be an iconic member of the community," said Levy on Tuesday.
Eyewitness News contacted an IKEA spokesman about the company's possible interest in Buffalo and the spokesman, Joseph Roth, said, "We are flattered and humbled by all the attention we have received, but are not planning on building a store in the Buffalo area at this time."
Buffalo Mayor Bryon Brown is encouraging the public to submit their waterfront ideas by going to a web page the City has set up: http://www.city-buffalo.com/applications/eriecanalproj/default.aspx. Ideas can also be phoned in to the 3-1-1 line. Mayor Brown says he will present the ideas to Canal Side planners.
"This is a process that will give the average person the ability to speak out on waterfront development," says Brown.
The art and cultural aspects of Canal Side are also moving forward. The ECHDC has now hired a Toronto-based consulting firm to help tell "The Story of Buffalo" and coordinate the cultural elements. "It's important that we go through an appropriate process both publicly and professionally to be sure we have the right culturals, the right mix, the sustainability is important. This is not a wealthy community," says Levy.