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Webster Block RFP to be Released Tomorrow

A request for proposals for the “Webster Block” at the foot of Main Street will be available tomorrow.  This 1.7 acre site, located directly across from First Niagara Center, is considered a prized downtown parcel due to its location and size.
“This is an exciting time for Downtown Buffalo and its waterfront. For the first time, city residents and visitors have a vibrant and lively waterfront destination that keeps them coming back,” said Mayor Brown.  “We’ve made great progress in a remarkably short period of time along Buffalo’s waterfront, and now we’re ready for private development to build on the momentum by re-inventing this prime piece of city-owned land.”
The RFP is seeking a qualified developer or development team with the ability, creativity and vision for the development of the property in accordance with the overall plan for the area.  The City will accept any and all proposals for uses and activities at the property, and will consider being a partner in the development as the owner and the funder of an integrated parking structure.
The “Webster Block” is primed for development, uniquely situated on Buffalo’s Inner Harbor, with the First Niagara Center directly south, the HSBC Atrium and its 1,800 employees directly to the east, the $30 million mixed use redevelopment of the Donovan site to the North, and the $250 million Canalside Project to the west.  Last year, over 400,000 people visited Buffalo’s waterfront to enjoy the recently completed improvements in Buffalo’s Inner Harbor.  
Three proposals have been floated for the site over the last twenty three years.  In 1989, Marine Midland Center owner (now One HSBC Center) S. Jon Kreedman proposed an 11-story, 207,000 sq.ft. office building and parking ramp for the property (below, left).  Kreedman’s tower was full and he wanted new office space to meet the needs of his expanding tenants at the time.  
websterproposals.png
A decade later, Adelphia Communications sought to build a headquarters building on the site, bringing 1,000 new jobs downtown.  The project would have included a hotel and hockey practice facility plus office and retail space (above, right).  Adelphia collapsed in 2002 amid financial woes and fraud by owners Timothy and John Rigas.

In 2010, Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation agreed to acquire the block if and when HSBC Bank chose to relocate its nearly 4,000 employees to the site.  The bank, whose lease for 650,000 sq.ft. of space in HSBC Center expires next year, was looking at its space options while also negotiating with current landlord Seneca One Realty LLC on a lease renewal.  The bank has since decided to consolidate its employees into the Atrium building and may vacant some or all of its leased space in HSBC Center.
Current Sabres owner Terry Pegula is interested in the Webster site for a mixed-use project.  Also said to be interested is Ellicott Development Group.  
The RFP can be found on the City of Buffalo’s website, http://www.ci.buffalo.ny.us/, and advertised in local and national publications, including the Buffalo News, Buffalo Business First, Wall Street Journal, and Urban Land Institute Bank.
The RFP Registration deadline is Friday, May 25, 2012, 4:00 P.M.  Proposal Submissions are due no later than Friday, June 15, 2012 at 4:00 P.M.

Written by RaChaCha

RaChaCha

RaChaCha is a Garbage Plate™ kid making his way in a Chicken Wing world. Since 2008, he's put over a hundred articles on here, and he asked us to be sure to thank you for reading. So, thank you for reading. You may also have seen his freelance byline in Artvoice, where he writes under the name his daddy gave him [Ed: Send me a check, and I might reveal what that is]. When he's not writing, RaChaCha is an urban planner, a rehabber of houses, and a community builder. He co-founded the Buffalo Mass Mob, and would love to see you at the next one. He represents Buffalo Young Preservationists on the Trico roundtable. If you try to demolish a historic building, he might have something to say about that. He is a proud AmeriCorps alum.

Things you may not know about RaChaCha (unless you read this before): "Ra Cha Cha" is a nickname of his hometown. (Didn't you know that? Do you live under a rock?) He's a political junkie (he once worked for the president of the Monroe County Legislature), but we don't really let him write about politics on here. He helped create a major greenway in the Genesee Valley, and worked on early planning for the Canalway Trail. He hopes you enjoy biking and hiking on those because that's what he put in all that work for. He was a ringleader of the legendary "Chill the Fill" campaign to save Rochester's old downtown subway tunnel. In fact, he comes from a long line of troublemakers. An ancestor fought at Bunker Hill, and a relative led the Bear Flag Revolt in California. We advise you to remember this before messing with him in the comments. He worked on planning the Rochester ARTWalk, and thinks Buffalo should have one of those, too (write your congressman).

You can also find RaChaCha (all too often, we frequently nag him) on the Twitters at @HeyRaChaCha. Which is what some people here yell when they see him on the street. You know who you are.

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