BUFFALO -- There wasn't an open seat at Tuesday's Buffalo Planning Board meeting held in City Hall. The Buffalo Sabres presented its plans to transform the land adjacent to the First Niagara Center into a $170-million mixed use space.
The Planning Board approved the plans and sent them to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation for their O.K.
During the meeting, Planning Board members got a look at renderings of the project including the outside lit up at night, and two N.H.L. sized rinks that can be used all year long.
"There's going to be a very large impact not only for the parking but for the half-million people that we expect to visit this facility, most won't be from this area," said Buffalo Sabres Chief Development Officer Cliff Benson.
There weren't all positive comments at the public meeting. Some opposed the project.
Daniel Sack, Vice President of the Campaign for a Greater Buffalo said, "How difficult it is to get all those cars out after a game. So now, you're going to add to the problem? You're going to double the problem. That doesn't make sense."
John McKendry, who owns a business near the First Niagara Center said, "What this whole thing does is constrict movement in the area which is already constricted and jammed."
Benson said the public has been a big part of the project and it will attract more people downtown.
"We want to make an investment. We want to make Buffalo better and we think the waterfront is the place to do it," Benson said. "I'm actually encouraged in some way by the commentary. If people weren't making remarks I'd be more concerned."
There are still several more hurdles to clear including approval from the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. and the Buffalo Common Council.
The Sabres said plans are still to break ground around March 1st. The first part of the project is expected to be open by Fall of 2014, and the entire project completed by Spring of 2015.