The Buffalo Sabres have proposed building two indoor ice rinks, a hotel and other amenities as part of a plan to develop a prime piece of real estate just steps from Canalside.
The bid, submitted by Sabres owner Terry Pegula and his wife, Kim, is one of three the city received for redevelopment of a 1.7-acre city-owned parking lot on the Webster Block, which sits east of Main Street and just north of the Sabres' home base at First Niagara Center.
The rinks would be open for general skating and use by area hockey clubs and teams, and would not be a practice facility for the Sabres, said Michael Gilbert, the team's vice president of public and community relations.
The development would include retail space and a sports bar on the ground level, a 900-space parking garage, two rinks above the garage and a full-service hotel with approximately 200 rooms.
"It would work well with the Cobblestone District," Gilbert said.
The development is expected to bring 500,000 people to the area annually, in addition to the roughly 1 million visitors drawn to the First Niagara Center every year, Gilbert said.
Ellicott Development and TRBrowning Architecture also submitted bids.
Mayor Byron W. Brown's administration is looking for a project for the Webster Block that will play off the nearby activity at the First Niagara Center, Metro Rail and the Canalside development to the west, but the administration left many elements of the redevelopment up to the imagination of the bidders.
"While we didn't dictate a use and a design and things of that nature, there are a lot of things the respondents had to take into account as part of the process," said Brendan R. Mehaffy, executive director of the city's Office of Strategic Planning.
The city hopes to select a developer by Aug. 15 and would like construction to begin next spring.
The city will not release details of the proposals, though the winning bidder will have to go through a public approval process, Mehaffy said.
The chosen plan will be vetted by the Common Council, which will need to approve the land sale. The Planning Board will also have to approve the proposal.
The city would have liked to have received more proposals, but it has some quality bids to choose from, Mehaffy said. "I think we're satisfied with the responses we received," he said.
Todd R. Browning, of TRBrowning Architecture, submitted a hockey-themed proposal, with pedestrians able to see the skating on two indoor rinks, though he said Wednesday he does not have the funding to bring it to fruition. "It's food for thought, more or less," he said.
Ellicott Development representatives declined to discuss their plan but said details would be released later in the week.
The parcel is appraised at just under $2 million, Mehaffy said. The winning bidder would purchase the land and make a compelling case for why its proposal is best for the site.
The city has offered to fund a parking facility as part of the redeveloped property.
A team of city commissioners are reviewing the bids to see if they are workable.
Bidders were also asked to conform to design guidelines set up for the area by the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., a state agency. The agency's development area includes the Webster Block, though the agency will not be involved in selecting the winning bid.
"We hope to be helpful where we can be helpful and welcome the opportunity to work with the city if they would like our assistance," said Sam Hoyt, the agency's interim chairman.