Two California companies have committed to setting up operations in the RiverBend project, a 202-acre redevelopment that will transform the former Republic Steel and Donner Hanna Coke sites in South Buffalo into a green business park.
Soraa, an LED lighting manufacturer, and Silevo, a silicon solar cell and module manufacturer, have agreed to bring research and manufacturing operations to the site. The companies are investing $1.5 billion into the project and will create 850 jobs and possibly many more over time.
The companies will kick-off the Buffalo High Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub, envisioned as a main hub building with ‘wings’ located on 90-acres at RiverBend. The first phase will cover 275,000 sq.ft. and should be complete in 18 months. The remaining building wings will be marketed to other businesses worldwide.
Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement this morning at a press conference attended by several hundred people downtown. The substantial investment by the State is part of Governor Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion” transformative economic development initiative.
“Under the largest investment in our Buffalo Billion initiative, we are building a state-of-the-art campus to house high-tech and advanced manufacturing companies that will create hundreds of jobs and leverage over a billion dollars in private investment for Western New York,” Governor Cuomo said.
New York State will invest $225 million in Empire State Development capital to establish infrastructure at the site including water, sewer, utility and roads; construct 275,000 square feet of facilities for Soraa and Silevo; and purchase and own equipment. Neither company is receiving direct funding from the State’s $225 million investment. Additional facilities will be built over time to accommodate new manufacturing companies operating in the field of biotech, high tech and green energy. The facilities and equipment will be owned by the State University of New York (SUNY) Research Foundation.
“The state is investing $225 million in this project,” said Governor Cuomo. “We wanted to signal the state is taking a different approach to Buffalo. After so many years of decline, today is a different day.”
Model picture by The Buffalo News
Soraa, the world leader in the development of LED lighting technology built on pure gallium nitride substrates, will bring 375 research and development and manufacturing jobs to Buffalo. Soraa was founded in 2008 in Goleta, California. Soraa’s LED lamps have superior color rendering and beam characteristics compared to lamps using LEDs created from non-native substrates. Soraa is located in Fremont, California (located between San Jose and Oakland).
Silevo is a solar cell innovator and photovoltaic solar module manufacturer that has evolved the use of silicon for solar to offer cost-effective high performance solar modules. The company was founded in 2007 in Silicon Valley. Silevo has a manufacturing plant in China. Phase one of Silevo’s project, with a $750 million investment which will create at least 475 jobs, involves a 200 megawatt production facility sole establishing its sole North American manufacturing operations at RiverBend.
“Buffalo is finally on the move,” said Howard Zemsky, co-chair of the Western New York Economic Development Council.
The RiverBend project is a part of the South Buffalo Brownfield Opportunity Area’s plan to remediate and redevelop approximately 2,000 acres of former industrial land on the shores of Lake Erie and the Buffalo River. RiverBend is envisioned as a recreational, ecological and economic resource, opening waterfront access, improving connectivity, and reclaiming land for productive use with over three million square feet of office, industrial and residential space.
The master plan calls for a unique, integrated community with new public parks, river access, a marina, and renewable energy in the form of solar energy systems and wind turbines. A mix of uses is anticipated that would be distinct from downtown such as light industrial, logistics warehousing, distribution, incubator or scale-up manufacturing space, research & development, office, retail, and residential.
The City of Buffalo and Buffalo Urban Development Corporation’s goal for RiverBend is to have it become a model of sustainable development, to foster long term economic growth by leveraging the assets of the site and region and to continue the ongoing remediation and environmental restoration of the Buffalo River.
Planned green infrastructure includes sustainable stormwater management, as well as natural and designed systems such as ecological corridors, recreational trails and open space, wastewater treatment, renewable energy systems, and public transportation.
In addition to public open spaces— a restored river’s edge, promenade, and new parks— a green network throughout the site is created through a combination of mesic forest zone, riparian woodland, grasslands area, and sustainable stormwater treatment of the streets and parking areas.
The plan above was a framework that offered key urban design principles and described a desired arrangement of land uses and building forms.