Council Approves Land Transfer Deal

August 6, 2010 Updated Aug 6, 2010 at 3:27 PM EDT

By John Borsa

August 6, 2010 Updated Aug 6, 2010 at 3:27 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - After a week-long battle and political posturing by the Buffalo Mayor and Common Council, the two sides came to an agreement Thursday night to transfer a portion of the waterfront property to the state run ECHDC for HSBC to consider development on.

The two-acre parcel of land known as the Webster Block is now in the hands of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation. There is no guarantee, however, that the bank will choose to develop the site. If that is the case, the land would revert back to the City of Buffalo.

Bank officials are expected to decide by the end of the year if HSBC will remain in its current downtown tower or move, either somewhere else in the city or to the suburbs.

Even after the agreement passed, both the mayor and the council continued to criticize each other and the process.

Mayor Brown criticized the members of the council for risking the City's and the bank's shared future, while members of the council accused Mayor Brown for manufacturing the crisis by saying a deal needed to be made immediately.

Bank officials hope to decide on their next location by the end of the year.

Common Council Members Francyzk, LoCurto, Haynes, Rivera and Kearns released this statement Friday regarding Thursday's agreement:

Last night the Common Council unanimously approved the transfer of City land on the downtown "Webster block" to Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation solely for the use of HSBC International Bank. The compromise developed between the Common Council and administration came directly from a resolution the Council wrote and passed on Wednesday after this majority refused to be rushed into a transfer of all City land in the Canal Side district. This compromise came about because we are committed to serving our constituents, both residential and commercial. We are proud to have held our ground, and we believe that the City and region has come away with a better deal because of it.

We worked hard to ensure that HSBC has everything it needs to keep its operations and jobs here in Buffalo while also protecting the City and her residents. Our unanimous vote last night sends a message to the bank and its executives: the City of Buffalo wants you to stay, grow, and do business with us. If HSBC does not choose to remain in Buffalo, the Webster-block land will remain under the Citys title.

Negotiations regarding the sale of additional land in the Canal Side district are not affected by last nights deal, and should continue in earnest. Outstanding issues, such as the creation of a Community Benefits Agreement and other waterfront-related concerns, can and will be addressed. We thank Mayor Brown and Brendan Mehaffy, Director of Strategic Planning, for recognizing that the sale of all parcels would not be practical until these issues are resolved.

Finally, we believe that last night's deliberations, while late and long, were necessary and an example of responsible, democratic governing. We are proud to serve the City of Buffalo, and we look forward to the continued development of our great waterfront.