Brown: Webster Block Decision Close

August 27, 2012 Updated Aug 27, 2012 at 7:10 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First by James Fink

August 27, 2012 Updated Aug 27, 2012 at 7:10 AM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said a final decision about which developer may obtain rights to the coveted Webster Block - a key development parcel in downtown Buffalo - is "just days away."

The nearly two-acre parcel, located along Washington Street and neighboring the First Niagara Center, HSBC Atrium and the One Canalside Building, is being eyed by Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula and developer Carl Paladino. Both responded to an RFP the city issued earlier this year.

The development of the Webster Block is one of the key issues in downtown Buffalo. The outcome is expected to have a strong, positive ripple effect on the central business district and the neighboring Canalside area as well as the rest of Buffalo and region.

Pegula wants to invest $123 million to construct a multi-use complex anchored by a pair of hockey rinks and a 200-room, full service hotel along with some retail and restaurant components and underground parking for nearly 1,000 vehicles. The complex would be connected to First Niagara Center via an elevated walkway. The rinks are designed to house youth, amateur and adult recreational leagues and tournaments.

Paladino is proposing an 11-story, mixed-use project with a 140-room hotel, 42 market-rate apartments, 110,000-square-feet of office space, a series of restaurants and retail operations and underground parking for more than 1,000 vehicles. Paladino's project carries a $64 million development price tag.

"My feeling is that a decision is fairly imminent," Brown said. "We are extremely close."

Brown wants to file the necessary paperwork with the Buffalo Common Council to begin the process of selling the Webster Block to either Paladino or Pegula. The mayor hopes to have the issue on the Council's Sept. 4 meeting agenda, which means in order for the paperwork to be filed with the council, a designated developer must be named by either Aug. 29 or Aug. 30.

Brown wants the project under construction by next spring and tenant-ready by 2014.

Both bids have been in Brown's hands since the June 15 RFP deadline. The proposals have been vetted by Brown, his economic development staff and a committee comprised of key community civic and business leaders.

Paladino and Pegula's both met with Brown and his advisory committee on Aug. 20 to answer a series of lingering and follow-up questions.

Brown said he was satisfied with the outcome.

"The majority of the questions we had were answered," he said.

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