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Buffalo plowing ahead with East Side development site

 

The vision of Buffalo leaders to create a shovel-ready development park in the city's East Side has taken a significant step forward.

The Buffalo Urban Development Corp. has authorized its staff to complete the acquisition of 11 parcels along Northland Avenue and Dutton Street that when put together will give the city another 30 acres of development-ready land along what is being called the Northland Avenue Belt Line Corridor. That, with an earlier deal, will give BUDC 50 acres of land along Northland Avenue.

Using funds allocated from the Buffalo Billion, $6.7 million will be invested in property acquisitions, planning and environmental reviews. BUDC officials expect to close on the respective deals in early 2015.

The project addresses several key issues for Buffalo leaders.

It refreshes the supply of development-ready land that BUDC can market and it also creates employment opportunities in the city's East Side, which is demographically one of Buffalo's poorest neighborhoods.

"I always felt it was critical for this to move forward," said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, BUDC chairman and a major advocate for the development of an East Side business park.

Brown said his office is already fielding calls from companies interested in investing on the Northland site, once the property has cleared all the necessary environmental reviews.

"This has the potential to be a substantial development opportunity in the East Side," Brown said.

The deal comes at a time when BUDC sold most of the Riverbend development site in South Buffalo to a New York state agency that will be overseeing the massive SolarCity project.

Only a few parcels remain in Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park, another BUDC development site.

"We need more land and supply, especially for large scale developments," Brown said.

In other BUDC action, the directors approved a $750,000 low-interest loan to the Kissling Interests LLC to help finance its plan to convert three upper floors in the Main Cathedral Building on Main Street into 26 market rate apartments. The space had been used for office tenants.

Funds come the Buffalo Building Reuse Project.

"This is project is precisely the type of project that I had in mind when I called for the creation of the Buffalo Building Reuse Project," Brown said.

Work on the project is expected to start in February. Tony Kissling, Kissling Interests founder, said the project will have a $8.6 million development price tag.