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Plans for Republic Steel Site Aired

by dhall
Thu, Mar 10th 2011 01:00 pm
The Buffalo News  [ View Original Article ]

Buffalo Urban Development Corp. officials Wednesday shared plans to transform the 300-acre Republic Steel site into a new community along the banks of the Buffalo River.

The once-contaminated and currently barren site someday would be renamed RiverBend Commerce Park.

The informational meeting, which was held in the Emerald Ballroom of the Buffalo Irish Center on Abbott Road, attracted about 25 residents, most of them from South Buffalo neighborhoods that abut the massive parcel.

Buffalo Urban Development Corp., a small nonprofit development corporation, was tapped to be the city’s brown-field redevelopment agent for the former Republic Steel/Donner Hanna Coke site. Its vice president, David Stebbins, said the agency’s goal is to attempt to return the site to productive use.

“Our mission is to try to bring private investment and jobs to . . . Buffalo. To do that, we’re not building the buildings. What we’re doing is preparing the land for . . . private investors to come in and be able to build the type of buildings that are being suggested by these drawings here,” said Stebbins, referring to site-development renderings that were shared with the residents.

Those plans were prepared by the agency’s seven-member consultant team of architects, economic advisers and environmental specialists, based on recommendations that residents shared with them at a Feb. 2 hearing.

The site is fairly isolated. It is bounded by a rail line at its western edge. A berm runs along the east border of the parcel, and it is bounded to the south by Tifft Street. South Park cuts through the north side of the parcel, and at the far west edge of the parcel is the Buffalo River.

Site development plans show the parcel being divided into five distinct neighborhoods: Republic Park, South Park Village, RiverBend Promenade, RiverBend Commerce Park North and RiverBend Commerce Park South. They would feature mixed commercial, retail and residential uses. None of the buildings would exceed two stories in height, said Willa Kuh, an architect with Sasaki Associates of Boston, Mass.

Once a final site planned is approved, Stebbins said, the agency would mostly be responsible for building the public infrastructure in the site.

“Where we’ll start with is the green infrastructure, the buffers, the parklands, the shoreline improvements, the trail system, as well as some of the road systems there, and then create development parcels for others to come in and do that,” Stebbins said.

A third meeting with residents is planned for April and may include a tour of the site.

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