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Planning Board OKs Buffalo RiverWorks project

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Despite opposition from some industries along Ganson Street and Michigan Avenue, the city's Planning Board has approved the proposed Buffalo RiverWorks project.The privately-funded project includes renovating some of the vacant GLF grain elevator and construction of a mixed-use facility with outdoor hockey rinks, bars, restaurants and a 5,000-seat concert venue.

The first phase of the project is expected to cost $15 million. 

Buffalo RiverWorks President Doug Swift says he and his partner Earl Ketry are "wildly enthusiastic" about the property's potential.

"We are thrilled that the Buffalo Planning Board saw that, as well. We're excited about being able to demonstrate how we can co-exist with our industrial neighbors who have shown some concerns that we respect and understand. But we feel we've got good ways to minimize whatever impact we might have," Swift told WBFO News.

Some of the companies that have expressed concerns over traffic and congestion because of the project include General Mills, St. Mary's Cement and Archer Daniels Midland. Swift says RiverWorks will not be disruptive to those businesses.

"The trains and the noise and the smell of Cheerios is part of what makes that area cool and part of what people want to experience. We'll be able to provide a place for people to come and be close to that, but not in those areas. There will be segregation from any areas where security is an issue," Swift says.

Swift says RiverWorks will host its first event, the Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament, in February. Construction of the facility is expected to start in the summer.

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