Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Canal Side Project

The Project:

According to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC), the Canal Side project will likely cost $315 million in public and private investments- more than $155 million in subsidies for this massive development will be provided through public sources. ECHDC plans to use nearly 20 acres of our waterfront to facilitate the development of over 1 million square feet for mixed-use retail, hospitality, commercial, cultural, and residential space in downtown Buffalo.

The project plan includes Bass Pro as the anchor tenant, a major-destination retailer, and sets aside 35 million in taxpayer dollars to directly subsidize the construction of the Bass Pro Outdoor World. The public has already provided millions in subsidies to Bass Pro, footing the nearly $10 million dollar cost associated with the demolition of the Aud. Further public contributions include $4 million+ in subsidies to Benderson Development, as well as funding parking structures and DOT signs for Bass Pro.

CEJ understands the necessity of developing Buffalo's waterfront, but despite our public support, ECHDC is unwilling to require anything in return from Bass Pro or Benderson Development, the project's Master Developer. It is up to us, WNY's taxpayers, to see to it that this project works for us!

Making Canal Side Work for Workers:

WNY's taxpayers must see a return on the nearly $160 Million dollar investment we have made in Buffalo's future. The best way to ensure that Canal Side provides tangible benefits for the community is through a Community Benefits Agreement(CBA). A CBA is a legally enforceable contract between a community group and a developer that guarantees various standards that the developer agrees to provide in exchange for support for the project from the community.

For the Canal Side Project, CEJ would like to see a CBA that;
  • Includes a green building and green infrastructure requirement so that all buildings meet the equivalent of LEED-Silver and include effective storm water management and water conservation plans;
  • Accommodates and nurtures small and local businesses, as opposed to big box retailers, so that more money re-circulates in our immediate community by setting aside appropriately sized commercial spaces for local, independent businesses;
  • Ensures the creation of quality permanent jobs that pay a Living Wage;
  • Prioritizes and sets legally binding goals for local and minority hiring;
  • Requires prevailing rate be paid on all construction jobs, with minority, local hiring, and apprenticeship goals;
  • Focuses on mixed use development; and
  • Maintains existing moderate income housing while making new residential units affordable and available to low and moderate income residents.

Community organizations throughout the city have endorsed CEJ’s call for a CBA, including the Buffalo Urban League, PUSH-Buffalo, Citizen Action of WNY, and Sustainable Earth Solutions.

CEJ will continue to meet with ECHDC to ensure a Community Benefits Agreement protects our investment in Buffalo's greatest natural resource, our Waterfront.

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