Sabres' HARBORcenter Plan Given Green Light

February 19, 2013 Updated Feb 19, 2013 at 7:54 PM EDT

By Kyla Igoe

February 19, 2013 Updated Feb 19, 2013 at 7:54 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW)- It's full steam ahead for development on on a prime piece of Buffalo real estate.

The Buffalo Sabres were given the approval by several agencies Tuesday to move forward with its plans for HARBORcenter. The $170 million project calls for a 650,000 square foot facility featuring 2 ice rinks, a 200 room hotel, restaurant, sports bar and other retail shops. Sabres officials say their focus is to create a regional tourism destination for amateur hockey.

The Erie County Industrial Development Agency approved a measure Tuesday morning to allow mortgage and sales tax incentives for the project, totaling close to $37 million.

"This project as we've said many times, is very challenging financially," said Sabres Chief Development Officer Cliff Benson. "It's very expensive. Without the ECIDA benefits, challenging would be an extreme understatement."

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation approved the design plan for the Webster Block and the Buffalo Common Council voted in favor of selling the prime downtown parcel to the Sabres.

"We're grateful for the excitement and to have all these people behind us" added Benson.

Construction is expected to begin in March and will take 18 months to complete.