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Obstacles cleared for Benderson's Canalside development

A stalled three- to four-story building planned near Canalside can now move forward with a planned restaurant on the ground floor with residences and office space above.

A state waterfront agency voted Monday to pay National Grid $1.8 million and Verizon nearly $322,000 to move underground utilities that posed an obstacle to the planned project by Benderson Development. The money will come from previously budgeted funds set aside in 2005 for the removal of asbestos and demolition of the state Donovan Building, redeveloped as One Canalside in 2014.

"We are not appropriating new money for this job," said Sam Hoyt, an Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. board member. "This is money that had been budgeted previously, which is good news."

As part of the agreement, Mayor Byron W. Brown's administration will relocate water and sewer from the half-acre parcel of land at the corner of Washington and Scott streets. The city owns about one-third of the property. The city is expected to transfer the property, allowing the project to go forward. The land will be appraised, acquired by Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., and then conveyed to Benderson. That's in accordance with an earlier agreement that called for the property to be development-ready.

Benderson announced its plans in 2014. It redeveloped the eight-story One Canalside building now shared by Courtyard Marriott, Phillips Lytle and Pizza Plant.

The East Canal fountain and public space would be between the two buildings.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, an ex-officio board member, asked the waterfront agency to report back on whether there could be any other unused funds available.

Hoyt said it's hoped construction can be timed to coincide with the return of cars to lower Main Street in the coming months.

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