Sabres will present plan to city planning board
By JAMES FINK
[email protected] | 716-541-1611
In one of the last steps before construction can begin, representatives of the Buffalo Sabres will present plans for the proposed $123 million HarborCenter project to the Buffalo Planning Board during its Feb. 12 meeting.
The board's approval is among the final municipal approvals needed before groundbreaking on the Webster Block project can commence. Also needed is final approval from Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. because the two-acre parcel is within the 20-acre Canalside footprint controlled by the agency. The ECHDC board is expected to review and sign off on the development later this month.
"We have all of these parallel roads we are going on," said Michael Gilbert, Buffalo Sabres vice president. "So far, everything has been moving along quite well."
The planning board had an informal review of the project in late November. The Feb. 12 hearing is designed as a follow-up to that meeting and as a formal vote on the project.
A site review committee put together by Mayor Byron Brown last summer designated the Sabres as preferred developer for the Webster Block site. The Sabres' bid was among three proposals submitted for review.
The plan is championed by team owner Terry Pegula and his wife, Kim. It calls for HarborCenter to be anchored by twin hockey rinks and a hotel that could have as many as 200 rooms. The complex will peak at 12 stories and include nearly 1,000 parking spaces,
Other aspects of the project include retail and at least one restaurant, as well as a Tim Hortons Cafe & Coffee shop.
With construction expected to start in March, the first phase of the project - the rinks - should be ready by September 2014, with the hotel pegged to open by spring 2015. The rinks are designed for youth, amateur and collegiate hockey and figure skating games and tournaments. The Sabres will only use the facility when the ice at First Niagara Center is covered and is being used for such events as indoor lacrosse games or concerts. Sabres officials estimate they may use one of the two rinks "10 or 15 days" per season.
"We're doing this to help change the city," said Cliff Benson, Sabres chief development officer.
The Webster Block, currently used as a 300-car surface parking lot, sits between First Niagara Center, HSBC Atrium and the One Canalside Building that's also under development and due to open later this year.