After a long battle to see which business proposal would be awarded the long-dormant Webster Block, Mayor Byron Brown announced today that the bid would go to the Buffalo Sabres and owner Terry Pegula.
Pegula's plan would further develop the waterfront area that he previously re-sodded earlier this summer. The plan calls for what is currently a parking lot outside the First Niagara Center to be turned into a multi-use complex featuring two year-round ice rinks, a 200-room hotel, a shopping center, a 965-spot parking structure, and - to quote the Buffalo News - "a destination Tim Horton's."
The $123 million building will be called HARBORcenter, and will be connected to the FNC through an elevated walkway. As currently proposed, it will be entirely funded by the team and Pegula through a payment-in-leiu-of-taxes program; the city will also receive $2 million for the land itself. Construction is expected to begin on March 1, with the rink and parking ramps scheduled for completion by September 2014.
For Buffalonians, this announcement should come as fantastic news. The Sabres are turning a not-very-useful parking lot into a multi-use complex - the only one of its kind in the NHL - that will draw citizens and visitors alike to the downtown area all year long. When you combine this new project with the recent revitalization of the harbor (see: Liberty Hound, Thursday At The Harbor, the new Helium comedy club, and the aforementioned new sod, among others) it makes for a very exciting set of developments for a once-awful section of the city of Buffalo, and another step on the long road to recovery.
Check out the announcement video, courtesy of Sabres.com, after the break.