Sabres might skate in with Webster Block plan

May 16, 2012 Updated May 16, 2012 at 6:57 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First by James Fink

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May 16, 2012 Updated May 16, 2012 at 6:57 AM EDT

With 10 days to go before the first deadline in Buffalo's quest to land private-sector development for the Webster Block, Mayor Byron Brown said he remains confident the city will receive several good proposals for the key downtown parcel.

Brown, on April 2, issued an RFP to the development community - both locally and nationally - to gauge if there is interest in the nearly two-acre site located in front of First Niagara Center and the HSBC Atrium. The site is currently being used as a 300-car surface parking lot.

Potential bidders have until May 25 to notify the city if they intend to bid on the Webster Block. All bids are due by June 15.

Many speculate that the Buffalo Sabres might be one of those prospective bidders as the organization continues to determine if it will build a downtown practice rink facility near First Niagara Center.

"It is under consideration," said Cliff Benson, Buffalo Sabres' senior advisor. "It is right in front of our arena."

Brown said his office and his economic development chief, Brendan Mehaffy, have fielded a number of calls from development interests about the Webster Block.

"There has been a lot of interest," Brown said. "I am looking forward to seeing some very creative proposals."

A decade ago, the then-Adelphia Communications Corp. was eyeing the block for the site of its proposed 14-story regional office tower. The project died in early 2002 when Adelphia under went its financial implosion.

Other periodic proposals have been made for the parcel, including a hotel and a multi-level parking ramp.

Brown said he hopes to play off of the development being made inside the Canalside footprint, which includes the Webster Block.

"Our public-sector investment has planted the seeds for what is now becoming a lot of private sector investment," Brown said.

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