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County Executive Joel A. Giambra has flexed his muscle in yet another arena, naming a prominent Amherst developer to an agency that manages and promotes the downtown core.

Paul F. Ciminelli, president of Ciminelli Development Co. Inc., has been appointed to the Buffalo Place board of directors.

He replaces Patricia Pitts, who served on the board for four years as an appointee of former County Executive Dennis Gorski. Pitts also chaired the agency's Marketing Committee and was credited for playing a pivotal role in the success of the Thursday in the Square summer concert series and other downtown events.

Ciminelli's company has long been a major player in the development of suburban office parks. But it also manages, leases and markets about one million square off downtown space, including Key Center.

"As a company, we're a significant stakeholder in the city. We hope to have even more of an impact when it comes to shaping downtown's future," Ciminelli said.

The company's influence in Buffalo has been steadily growing. Last week, city officials designated Ciminelli the exclusive developer of a major brownfields initiative that is being launched in South Buffalo. The first phase will involve construction of a multimillion-dollar business park and public marina near the Union Ship Canal off Route 5.

Bruce L. Fisher, Giambra's chief of staff, said the county executive believes Ciminelli will bring a valuable perspective to the downtown management group.

"The Ciminelli Company is an important regional player in both the city and the suburbs," said Fisher. "Paul will now have an opportunity to help chart the future of our urban core."

The appointment even won praise from a business leader who hasn't always seen eye-to-eye with Ciminelli. Carl P. Paladino, a downtown landlord who also sits on the Buffalo Place Board, said he thinks Ciminelli's involvement will be a plus.

"Joel made a great selection," said Paladino. "This will help us to focus private sector downtown leadership within Buffalo Place, where it belongs."

Ciminelli said he thinks Buffalo Place has been effective in helping to foster a "sense of vibrancy" along the Main Street Pedestrian Mall.

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