BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The Buffalo Planning Board has formally accepted the proposed $123 million HarborCenter. This was one of the final steps needed for the current site of the Webster Block, which sits in front of the First Niagara Center.
Cliff Benson, Sabres Chief Development Officer, said "We want to make an investment. We want to make Buffalo better, we think the waterfront is the place to do it."
The project includes a 200-room hotel, approximately 850 parking spaces, retail shopping, a themed restaurant and two hockey rinks.
One of the rinks will have seating for 1,800 people, the other for 150. The HarborCenter will be home to the Junior Sabres. The NHL caliber ice will also have availability for local hockey organizations, a handful of Sabres practices and an allotted time for community and public use. The group also hopes to be the future home of a local Division 1 college team.
But the project also has its detractors. Some argued the site is doing too much in a limited amount of space.
Local Business Owner John McKendry said, "What this whole thing does is constrict movement in the area."
Other concerns brought up dealt with traffic, including reducing the size of Washington and Perry Streets.
Buffalo Resident Daniel Sacks said, "This is an area where the blocks are very large, the streets are very few, and your further trying to concentrate parking."
Benson said, "I understand people are going to have different views about this and we want to be as sensitive as we can, and still move forward with what we think is a great investment in Buffalo."
The process isn't finished yet. A public hearing on the land sale is scheduled for the Buffalo Common Council on February 19th. The HarborCenter also needs approval from the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, which is expected later this month.
If the next two hearings go as planned, the ground is expected to be broken at the Webster block March 1.
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