Buffalo Riverworks Clears Planning Board Hurdle

BUFFALO, NY - After going before the Buffalo Planning Board multiple times in hopes of building a local entertainment destination, a group of developers have won approval to build the project by the planning board.

A vote on the project was delayed last month for further study.

However on Tuesday, the vote was unanimous in favor of Doug Swift's vision to build a $35 million project.

Swift and other business partners want to turn crumbled concrete into the Buffalo Riverworks, which is anticipated to be an entertainment hub, with ice rinks, a restaurant-brewery and performance stage.

Riverworks is anticipated to be built right over the Michigan Avenue bridge on Ganson Street in an abandoned silo.

But, Riverworks has faced opposition from two corporations -- General Mills and Archer Daniels Midland. Both companies have cited concerns about traffic and safety issues and pedestrian and vehicular conflicts, if the project is built. Freight trucks frequently rumble around the Riverworks proposed location.

"There is an issue with public safety on both sides of the street on Michigan Avenue, it's not wide enough, right now, in the winter time with the snow, snow removal, there are no sidewalks," said Peter Wilson, CEO of Sonwil Distribution Center.

Swift argues that the area is severely underdeveloped and claims that there are 40 acres that are under-utilized.

Buffalo Common council member Chris Scanlon, who represents the district where the project's located, says that General Mills has expressed the possibility of moving out of Buffalo if concerns related to Riverworks are realized.

Construction has been underway for about a month at the project site.

Now that the planning board has approved the project, Buffalo Common Council needs to address the plan. The council's legislation committee approved the plan, which means, according to council president Rich Fontana's office, the full council will need to vote on the project next Tuesday.

The developers want to have part of the project done by April 2014 and be fully operational in one year -- creating 200 jobs.

Many council members have expressed support in Riverworks. In February, the developer says that the ice rinks should be done for the Labatt Blue Pond Hockey tournament.


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