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Genesee Street downtown to be spruced up

Business First

A trio of companies that have either developed or, are in the process of developing buildings along a key downtown Buffalo road have agreed to team up and underwrite a design for a well-traveled stretch of Genesee Street.

The companies, CityView Development, Iskalo Development and M&T Bank, want to finance the streetscape design efforts of Genesee Street between Oak and Washington Streets. The preliminary costs? Approximately $13,085.

The design work is being done with the blessing of the Buffalo Urban Development Corp. and Mayor Byron Brown, with the Amherst firm of Wendel Duchscherer doing the study.

"This is a case of trying leverage off of private-sector investments," said David Stebbins, Buffalo Urban Development Corp. vice president.

Preliminary plans show a series of trees and other vegetation planted along the three-block stretch along with wider, more pedestrian-friendly sidewalks installed.

CityView is in the process of taking a series of century-old buildings between Oak and Ellicott Streets and renovating them into the Genesee Gateway project, anchored by Class A office space and restaurants. The first phase of the work could be completed later this year.

Iskalo has renovated the equally historic Electric Tower building, bringing new life to the structure that dominates the Buffalo skyline.

M&T Bank has several buildings in that same stretch, including the M&T Center.

"It is a highly visible series of properties," Brown said.

In addition, that stretch of Genesee Street is one of the major entry ways into downtown Buffalo with vehicles exiting off of the Kensington Expressway.

"Gateway areas are so important to the image of the city," Brown said. "This is a huge boost. The new streetscape will put downtown Buffalo in a different light and will send out the right message."

Besides the gateway project, the BUDC directors, during their meeting Tuesday afternoon, agreed:

  • To drop the designated developer status that was granted to Savarino Cos. four years ago for a six-acre parcel in Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park. Savarino had considered building offices totalling 45,000-square-feet on the land, but the deals never materialized.

The decision to drop the designated developer status was jointly agreed by both Savarino Cos. and the BUDC board.

  • At the same time, re-affirmed designated developer status to Krog Corp. for a 9.6-acre parcel in Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park. Krog is negotiating with several prospective tenants for the property.

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