BUFFALO (WKBW) With the opening of Cabela's on Thursday, Western New York now has it's own major brand outdoor store. One that in many ways draws parallels to another major development project that included a hunting and fishing megastore, Bass Pro. That deal fell through in 2010, so now is the region better off without it?
Most of the local political leaders that spoke to Eyewitness News say yes.
Bass Pro was scheduled to build a multi-million dollar superstore on the waterfront and create hundreds of new jobs. The company was also scheduled to get $35 million dollars in tax incentives to do so. But the deal fell through in July of 2010, something that those in local economic development say was ultimately beneficial to the area. That's because, they say the waterfront is now mixed use, open, and more historic instead of being based around a single, big box, mall-type superstore.
"Woulda coulda shoulda I'm glad it didn't. I think we're all glad in retrospect it didn't. And they found a great location out in Cheektowaga and Buffalo has a great waterfront," WNY Economic Development Council Co-chair Howard Zemsky said.
Zemsky, Mayor Byron Brown, and Senator Tim Kennedy all say the area is better off as a whole, still getting a big outdoor store in Cabela's, and having millions of dollars in other projects revitalize the waterfront.
"We have developed in a way that is more holistic. That is more collaborative. That is in partnership with the desires of the residents of this community of the city of Buffalo. I think that's more significant, more important than a silver bullet investment," Mayor Brown said.
But the site where Bass Pro was supposed to sit, the Aud Block, is still under construction. There have been several delays in constructing the historic canals, including a lawsuit with one contractor.
Local leaders say the plan is to have them open by the end of this year and have ice skating this winter.
Work on the Explore and More Children's Museum is expected to be completed by 2016.