Buffalo River Development

November 20, 2013 Updated Nov 20, 2013 at 2:25 PM EDT

By James Fink, Buffalo Business First

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Buffalo River Development

November 20, 2013 Updated Nov 20, 2013 at 2:25 PM EDT

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - The first phases of a proposed Buffalo River development will be the subject of an upcoming Erie County Industrial Development Agency public hearing.

The developers of the Buffalo RiverWorks project, set for a large chunk of Kelly Island, are seeking sales tax breaks needed for the construction of a pair of hockey and curling rinks that will serve as one of the anchors for the planned $35 million project. The ECIDA has set a Nov. 26 public hearing to consider the request.

"This is something we planned for," said Doug Swift, one of the project's three partners.

The rinks, alone, carry a $5 million development price tag.

Swift hopes to have the rinks constructed in time for the annual Labatt Buffalo pond hockey tournament, set for Feb. 21.

"That's our goal," he said.

The Buffalo Planning Board began its review of the rink project on Nov. 19 and is expected to formally vote on that phase when it meets on Dec. 3. The ECIDA's directors could vote on the incentives on Dec. 16.

Plans call for one rink, primarily used for adult and amateur hockey leagues, to be 185-feet long by 85-feet wide and a second rink, 160-feet long by 85-feet wide, to be the home base for the region's first curling center. The project also includes six locker rooms and a roof but no walls around the rinks.

During the warm weather months, the rinks will be used for such sports as lacrosse and roller hockey as well as serving as a host site for concerts and special events.

The full project includes restaurants, bars, slips and the conversion of the former GLF grain mill into a 100-room hotel and home to a microbrewery.

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