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Buffalo River drawing new investment on Ohio Street

Chris Caya WBFO News

By early 2017, the City of Buffalo's rental stock will include nearly 100 apartments in two new buildings overlooking the Buffalo River.

A mini building boom is underway in the city's Old First Ward. Rep. Brian Higgins says the federal government's $72.8 million clean up of the Buffalo River set the stage for private investment.

"The attraction to the Buffalo waterfront we learned, in the aftermath of Bass Pro, was the water. It's what people desire. You see canoes and kayaks and bicyclists all along this corridor. It's creating a new vibe in Buffalo," said Higgins Monday.

On Ohio Street, the former Erie Freight House site will soon be Buffalo River Landing, a five-story mixed-use building with 78 apartments. The owner of Savarino Construction, Sam Savarino, says he has had more than 70 serious inquiries from people who want to live there.

"The river is now activated. You come down here you see things that you never thought you would see years ago, from boaters to kayakers. And the trend to the river is all going up," Savarino said.

Nearby, at 301 Ohio Street, Ellicott Development is putting up a five-story mixed-use building with 21 apartments. That project is next door to the new Lodge at Riverfest Park, which is expected to open in May.   

Buffalo-Niagara Riverkeeper Executive Director Jill Jedlicka credits Higgins for securing the money from Washington for the river's clean up. Jedlicka says community support was also key.

"This community pulled together to breathe new life into a river that was once deemed dead. Who would have thought, 10 years ago, we would be here talking about redevelopment and activation of the river? It was a vision shared by all and it took all of us to get to this point," Jedlicka said.