City chooses Pegula's proposal for Webster Block
A group led by Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula has been chosen to develop downtown Buffalo's Webster Block. The announcement was made by Mayor Byron Brown late Wednesday morning.
"Great things are happening in the city of Buffalo and today it is getting even better," said Mayor Brown as he started the news briefing.
The 1.7 acre Webster Block is the parcel of city-owned land that is currently a parking lot across from First Niagara Center. The city had been reviewing two proposals for the land -- one from Pegula's HARBORcenter Development LLC, the other from businessman Carl Paladino's Ellicott Development Company.
"Very soon, right in the heart of downtown Buffalo, we will have a first of its kind facility in the United States of American," said Mayor Brown.
Pegula's $123 million dollar proposal includes two ice rinks, a 200-room hotel, restaurant and retail space, and a parking ramp. Paladino's $63 million dollar plan called for a mixed use hotel/residential/retail complex.
Sabres president Ted Black said he HarborCenter plan would include two ice rinks, 60-feet above the street.
"And so Buffalo's already known as hockey heaven, we will have hockey in the heavens," said Black. "It will be the only one-of-its-kind anywhere in the NHL and perhaps all of North America."
"It will not only be Buffalo's front door, but it will be our front door," noted Black.
The Webster Block is considered a prime piece of downtown real estate due to its proximity to the developing waterfront, the city's downtown sports arenas, and the Canadian border.
In reviewing the two proposals, Mayor Brown had sought input from community and business leaders and the broader public.
WBFO & AM-970 News asked Mayor Brown how Paladino reacted to news that he lost to the Sabres plan.
"Mr. Paladino was 'very gracious and very professional'," according to the Mayor.
Brown said there was no one factor that finalized their decision, but he admits the Sabres proposal did deliver a "wow factor."
"Yes there is a wow factor here, there is no question about that," said Mayor Brown.
A March First groundbreaking is expected and the hockey rinks could be completed by September of 2014.
The $2 million land purchase needs approval by the Common Council.
Ellicott District Common Councilmember Darius Pridgen said while he could not speak for the rest of his colleagues, he expects it to be approved.
"This could be an international destination," said Pridgen. "I would be very surprised and I would wonder what the reason is for not supporting such a great proposal."