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Planning Board approves changes for Queen City Landing

Another hurdle to the construction of Queen City Landing was cleared Tuesday. The city Planning Board approved a modification to the controversial plan that will move the high-rise residential tower on Buffalo's Outer Harbor another 25 feet away from the shoreline.

"Why we are here today is to make that public space that much better," said project developer Gerry Buchheit of the decision to move the proposed 23-story tower further from water's edge.

"That was my primary reason for doing that."

The change also moves the building away from the old wooden structural pilings that were used to build the Freezer Queen plant. Modern steel pilings will now be driven down to bedrock.

Legal challenges to the plan continue to move through the court system. Opponents have raised a variety of concerns, including the threat of contaminated soil finding its way into the the Lake Erie waters.

"We, quite frankly, don't think that's really a legitimate concern, especially when it relates to anything that might be under the building," said lawyer Marc Romanowski.

"To the extent there was any contamination under the building, due to depth, it's already been in the lake. So, if it's leachable contaminants under the building, they've already been drawn back in and out of the soil because of the very high groundwater table because groundwater is in the basement."

Others believe the massive project will ostensibly restrict the public's waterfront access. Buchheit maintains any such restriction will only occur during construction.

"Yeah, we can't have people doing it while there is a building under construction, obviously, but when everything is open so will the bike path be."

The developer now pegs the final cost of the project at $85 million.


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.