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3 proposals unveiled for Buffalo scrapyard development

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Buffalo State College
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(l to r) Renderings of plans from Colby Development, Uniland Development and McGuire Development.

Buffalo State College is looking for a developer of a city-owned impound lot on Dart Street, that ugly car junkyard next to the Scajaquada Expressway, near its end at the Niagara River. The college can't put up any cash for use of the nearly nine acres, but there are developers interested, with three of them discussing their plans on a virtual screening session Monday evening.  

Three different development groups have proposed three very different plans. Any of the three would change the alignment of the campus, moving action - whether sports facilities or innovation space for startups - toward the Grant Street side of the campus.

Architect Jonathan Morris for Colby Development said the proposed major sports facility is central to his client's plans.

"The new Sportsplex facility will house an NCAA-compliant 400-meter track and field venue with an infield large enough for collegiate soccer, lacrosse or even an indoor practice facility for Bengals football in inclement weather." said Morris. "Divider nets can partitition the field to allow for multiple simultaneous functions, grandstand seating for 2,600 spectators."

Uniland Development is proposing a plan built around an indoor athletic facility. Development Director Kellena Kane said that would open opportunities for city residents without transportation to the suburbs.

"Our proposal provides many community benefits," Kane said. "The cleanup and brownfield remediation of a site that is currently an eyesore and activation of a large parcel near an important urban anchor institution and a crucial waterway. But one of the biggest benefits of this proposal is that it can act as a catalyst for future development in the surrounding neighborhood."

McGuire Development Vice President of Development and Acquisition Eric Ekman has a different slant on the impound land, not using it much.

"To create open space in a place to support and showcase athletic activities," Ekman said. "We are not proposing a new building on this property for the following reasons. There is planning rethinking underway for Route 198. We thus feel it premature to propose new development of the Dart Street property until plans for 198 become finalized."

Instead, Ekman said McGuire wants to use some existing buildings and the college's industrial and engineering education to create an innovation center for startups to create jobs and economic development.

A competition is underway to designate a developer.

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.
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