BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Add Bass Pro to the growing list of the "big ones" that gotaway! After years of planning and posturing, the outdoor retailerhas dropped plans for a mega store on Buffalo's waterfront.
Canal side is now without an anchor tenant. Bass Pro said itcould not meet a Tuesday deadline to make a final decision. It'sbeen nine years now, and Buffalo had lost patience with the giantretailer.
A 130,000 square foot Bass Pro mega store was to be the anchorthat would draw millions to canal side, but even after sinking amillion dollars into plans, Bass Pro pulled up anchor and pulledout of the project.
Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation Chairman Jordan Levysaid, "I'm thoroughly disappointed in the outcome. I didn't hopethis would ever happen. A lot of us have worked hard to have adifferent outcome, and frankly, it's a failing."
In a letter to Congressman Brian Higgins, Bass Pro said, "Thereare numerous critical reasons, including the fact that severalmajor issues...remain unresolved." Public opinion was alsobeginning to change.
Eric Recoon of Benderson Development said, "Bass Pro is aprivate company. They're frankly not accustomed to all thisnegativity. The negativity here became very toxic."
Back In 2004, the mood was upbeat when Bass Pro unveiled plansto remodel the Aud into one of its stores. The company's founderJohnny Morris said Buffalo offered something unique.
"Have chance right out the back door, ya know, customers to tryboats, to actually go fish. Have guide service right from thestore," said Morris.
The Aud came down to accommodate final plans, but a lawsuit overpublic funds used to lure Bass Pro here, and a lack of action fromBuffalo lawmakers to transfer land for the canal side project, mayhave contributed to the outdoor store cutting bait.
Levy said, "Certain small pockets of people once again decidedit wasn't something they wanted, so they sort of helped drive themout."
But waterfront planners say the canal side project will moveforward and that ten major retailers have been identified aspotential anchor tenants.
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