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HARBORcenter scores big with project approvals

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Buffalo: HARBORcenter scores big with project approvals
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The Buffalo Sabres organization scored a hat trick with its HARBORcenter project Tuesday. YNN's Kaitlyn Lionti tells us, it received three approvals in its effort to transform Buffalo's Webster Block.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A day of victories Tuesday for the Buffalo Sabres' $170 million HARBORcenter project started with a unanimous vote by the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.

Board members approved what's expected to be about $28 million in tax incentives during the course of 10 years.

"We're grateful for the excitement, we're grateful to have all these folks behind us. Without the ECIDA benefits, it would be, to say challenging financially would be an understatement," said Cliff Benson, chief development officer for the Buffalo Sabres.

Sabres officials say in that 10-year period, it's estimated HARBORcenter will generate $56 million in state and local taxes and create almost $260 million in direct revenue.

"There is no question, that this is going to be tremendously beneficial to not only Erie County but all of Western New York," said John LaFalce, chairman of the ECIDA Board of Directors.

Next, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation took it's Design Review Committee's recommendation and approved the HARBORcenter design.

President Thomas Dee says the committee went through a series of meetings with the Sabres and their architect to determine what that building would look like and make sure it fits with Canalside.

"So it's adding public input, it's adding more architectural input, and there were several different issues and several different changes and the Sabres were very, very agreeable," said Dee.

The final stop of the day was Buffalo Common Council, and with a third unanimous vote, HARBORcenter received it's third approval of the day - allowing the Sabres to purchase the Webster Block.

Benson says they're on track to break ground March 1, and since it'll be more than new ice rinks, they're working to determine who will operate other aspects of the mixed-use facility.

"A full service hotel is something that has to be run by people who know how to run those, and we hope the sports bar is going to be a real signature for down there so we're going to have the right people running that as well," said Benson.

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