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Developers Present Vision for New Outer Harbor, Push for More Infrastructure Funding

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – The shovel is poised and ready to start digging a new future for Buffalo's outer harbor. But a $10 million funding gap could dry up the entire project.

WBFO's Joyce Kryszak went along Wednesday as the Buffalo Lakefront Group gave a tour of the waterfront they envision. The tour bus rolled out of the inner harbor, winding illogically under highways, over the Skyway and around to the one-way Fuhrman Boulevard, finally reaching the outer harbor. The convoluted excursion perfectly illustrated the need for access roads to the proposed development site. But the road project is $10 million short. Carl Montante, Jr. from Uniland Development says they're optimistic.

"We look forward to continuing to work with the public sector to get the kinds of roadway improvements we need to make this a viable development," Montante said. "As soon as those commitments come through, we plan on breaking ground at the same time the roadway improvements start."

$22 million dollars of federal funding has already been secured. And Montante says they're hopeful the state DOT will also come through. But, if not, he says the project could be dead in the water.

The group, led by Uniland, recently signed an agreement with the NFTA to develop 120 acres on the outer harbor for public and private use. The grand plan calls for a mix of residential and commercial, parks and trails, retail and recreation. Montante says that mix is essential.

"You don't see cities around the country turning 60 acres of prime waterfront land into a giant park," Montante said. "You see it being utilized to help the region, creating revenue and access."

That's why he says the water's edge, and then some, will be reserved for the public. Montante says the first phase of the project -- a 360-slip marina -- could be built even if funding for the roads falls through.

"It could be a stand alone project," Montante said. "It could be very successful even without the rest of the development here."

The entire outer harbor project is pegged at roughly $750 million, between the private and public sector. Montante says investors are lined up, waiting for the go-ahead.