By Jim Fink
Buffalo Business First
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Land near the Erie Basin Marina is being eyed by developer Carl Paladino as the site of a $75 million project.
The project, dubbed “The Carlo” after Paladino’s grandfather, was the centerpiece of Mayor Byron Brown’s “State of the City Address” delivered Friday afternoon. The project is to include Class A office space, a 138-room hotel, apartments, restaurants and a spa.
This marks the second year in a row that Brown has announced a major downtown economic development effort during his annual address. Ironically, the roots of the Paladino project go back to last year’s announcement that Brown was seeking private-sector development for the Webster Block.
The Webster Block, which sits in front of First Niagara Center, has been sold to an affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres, whose owner, Terry Pegula, is investing $172 million in the HarborCenter project. HarborCenter is to be anchored by a pair of hockey rinks and a 200-room full-service hotel and parking ramp.
The Sabres and Paladino both submitted development plans for the Webster Block.
“Out of the Webster Block process, we are getting two excellent projects,” Brown said.
Together, they represent $250 million in private-sector investment for properties that were generating minimal revenues and no jobs.
“I’ll take a quarter of a million dollars in private sector investment on my waterfront any day of the week,” Brown said.
Paladino said much of his Webster Block development plan has now been shifted to the Erie Basin Marina site.
“This is bigger and has more elements,” Paladino said.
At $75 million, the Carlo will be the largest development project, in terms of cost and size, within Paladino’s vast portfolio.
Plans call for Paladino’s company, Ellicott Development, to build a 14-story, 574,298-square-foot building on a series of parcels between Templeton Landing and the Erie Basin Marina. The parcels are owned by the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency. Paladino is working with the city-controlled agency on being named designated developer for the parcels. That approval could happen within the next few weeks.
Among its highlights, the Carlo will feature:
• An estimated 100,000-square-feet of Class A office space.
• A 138-room hotel. Paladino said he is negotiating with several major hotel chains.
• 32 apartments including four penthouse units.
• A 5,000-square-foot spa and fitness center.
• More than 8,600-square-feet of banquet facilities, including a “green roof” where patrons can walk outside and look out on Lake Erie and the marina.
• A pair of upscale restaurants including one that will be on a rooftop.
• A bar.
• Indoor pool.
• A 602-space parking ramp
• A parking lot with 40 spaces.
A later phase will add a series of one-story and two-story buildings designed for retail and small-scale commercial tenants.
Pending various municipal reviews, Paladino said he hopes to break ground next spring and have the Carlo open by 2015.
“But, there are a lot of plans to go through and a lot of boards to go through,” he said.
The Carlo’s genesis came from last year’s Webster Block bidding process, both Paladino and Brown confirmed. When it became apparent a citizen’s advisory panel was leaning more towards the HarborCenter project, Brown approached Paladino about constructing the building – but on a different downtown site.
“It was too good of project just to let it go,” Brown said. “All along, I thought it would be nice if we could figure out how to do both.”
Paladino said he is excited about building another waterfront project. Among his holdings is the 11-story Pasquale condominium tower in Waterfront Village.
“Doing something there and doing something like this in downtown is an absolute no-brainer,” Paladino said.