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Three development groups have put their visions of what Buffalo's outer harbor could become on paper and submitted their ideas to the owners of the 120 acres of waterfront property.

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority confirms it received three proposals for the largely undeveloped outer harbor by Friday's 5 p.m. deadline. The agency will begin a review of the documents next week, leading to selection of a development team in January, NFTA Executive Director Larry Meckler said.

Those submitting proposed master plans include:

The Opus Group, of Minneapolis, whose team includes VOA Associates of Chicago and Amherst's Uniland Development Co.;

Olympia & York of Toronto, with Jerde Partnership of Sacramento, Calif., and Ciminelli Development Co. of Amherst. Olympia & York, a last-minute addition to the team, is a global real estate firm, with a portfolio that includes commercial and residential projects;

Norstar Development of Buffalo, with Foit-Albert Associates, a Buffalo architectural firm, and Matthews Nielsen, a New York City landscape architecture group.

"Now our work begins," Meckler said. "We will be sifting through the proposals looking for how they match our goal of making it a location that brings people to the waterfront for housing, entertainment and recreation."

In addition to development plans for the property, which extends along Fuhrmann Boulevard from the Seaway Piers to the Bell Slip, the proposals also will offer financing strategies and development timetables.

Meckler said an internal review of the proposals, led by Chicago-based consultant Jon B. DeVries, a principal and national partner with URS Corp., is the first step in the selection process. The NFTA executive board, along with representatives of city and county government, and Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, will be involved in the initial review.

"The intent is to give them an initial review by the end of November, then schedule presentations by all the teams to the stakeholders and the public in December," Meckler said. "We hope to make a final selection in January."

Once a development team is chosen, a community advisory panel will be brought into the process to ensure the project's goals reflect area residents' waterfront interests.


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