Mayor pleased with Webster development bids

June 21, 2012 Updated Jun 21, 2012 at 6:24 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First by James Fink

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June 21, 2012 Updated Jun 21, 2012 at 6:24 AM EDT

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said he finds the dual Webster Block bids, one each from the Buffalo Sabres and developer Carl Paladino, "very strong."

The Sabres and Paladino were among the three entities that responded by the June 15 deadline with development proposals for the nearly two-acre Webster Block property that across the street from First Niagara Center and HSBC Atrium. Currently a 300-car surface parking lot, the property sits just south of the Buffalo News building and the under-renovation, $30 million One Canalside Building.

"Each was well-presented," Brown said. "I am very pleased by what I saw. They were high-quality proposals."

Brown said the city is reviewing the bids and will award the development rights for the key downtown Buffalo parcel by Aug. 15. The mayor wants construction on the block to begin by next summer.

Sources said the Sabres are proposing to construct a pair of hockey rinks, one with seating for a couple hundred of spectators and the other with perhaps as much seating for 1,500 people. The rinks would be used by local groups, hockey organization and skating groups. The NHL team may occasionally use one of the rinks if First Niagara Center is booked with a concert, lacrosse game or other special event.

The project would also include a full-service, nationally-branded hotel, a 1,000 car parking facility and some streetscape retail along Main and Perry streets.

Paladino has offered to construct a 700,000-square-foot, 12-story mixed use project that would house a 140-room brand name hotel, 42 upscale, market-rate apartments and 110,000-square-feet of Class A office space.

First floor retail and restaurants are proposed along Main, Scott and Perry streets.

"It is clear to me that the Webster Block project will be a significant benefit to not only the people of Buffalo, but all of Western New York," Brown said.

The estimated costs of each proposal are undetermined at this time.

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