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Buffalo Common Council approves 23-story apartment tower for waterfront

Buffalo lawmakers gave the green light Tuesday to Queen City Landing, setting the stage for the 23-story signature apartment tower to be constructed on prime waterfront land.

In a 6-3 vote, the Common Council endorsed the glass and metal tower complex that developer Gerald A. Buchheit said will be completed by the end of 2017. He predicted that the $60 million project will spur additional development on the Outer Harbor.

“I am thrilled,” Buchheit said after the Council vote. “We are going to be pioneers on the Buffalo waterfront.”

The project will include:

• 197 one- and two-bedroom apartments in the tower complex facing Lake Erie.

• Two restaurants.

• A fitness and wellness facility.

• A three-story parking ramp.

• Recreational features including tennis courts, walking paths and docks.

The new complex will replace the six-story Freezer Queen cold-storage building, which has sat vacant for years and will now be demolished.

Support on the Council was led by Christopher P. Scanlon, whose South District includes the tract of land Buchheit is developing.

Scanlon told his colleagues that his decision to support the project was not easy.

“I’m not here to be a cheerleader for the project,” Scanlon said. “For weeks, I’ve deliberated, asked questions and, most importantly, I’ve listened.”

Storm water runoff, migratory bird patterns, environmental impact and procedure were questions raised and addressed, Scanlon said.

“It seems to me we’ve satisfied all the questions,” Scanlon said.

Also voting for the project were Council President Darius G. Pridgen of the Ellicott District and Council Members Joel P. Feroleto of Delaware, Richard A. Fontana of Lovejoy, Ulysees O. Wingo Sr. of Masten and Rasheed N.C. Wyatt of University.

Wingo said his support reflected the confidence he has in the time and effort that Scanlon put into his decision.

Fontana said his support is an endorsement of the project and what he believes the tower can do for the Outer Harbor. He said he’s happy that the former Freezer Queen building will be demolished, and believes that the scale and height of the Queen City Landing tower seem appropriate for its location.

“I think the tower might be a statement for the waterfront,” Fontana said. “I think it could work well.”

Council Members David A. Franczyk of Fillmore, Joseph Golombek Jr. of North and David A. Rivera of Niagara voted against the proposal, contending that the 23-story building is too large for its location.

Golombek, furthermore, questioned whether the tower will succeed in attracting additional development to the area.

Franczyk called the building design “uninspiring.” He also said he would prefer to see the vacant One Seneca Tower downtown redeveloped before this tower is built.

Rivera said the 23-story building belongs downtown, not on the waterfront. “I think it’s the wrong kind of development,” he said of Queen City Landing.

Just as the Council several years ago rightfully opposed big-box development at Canalside, lawmakers should oppose this tower, Rivera said.

The new tower, at 328 feet, would be the sixth-tallest building in the city, behind One Seneca Tower, City Hall, the Rand Building, Main Place Tower and the Liberty Building. The new HarborCenter, with its Marriott hotel on top, is 20 stories and 240 feet high.

email: sschulman@buffnews.com and jepstein@buffnews.com