Buffalo River Landing has $18 million reasons to be successful

From Buffalo Business First, published March 8, 2016
by James Fink, Business First Reporter

Work has just started on the $18 million Buffalo River Landing project and already a buzz is growing about the Ohio Street development.

Developer Sam Savarino, who is building the four-story, 80,000-square-foot residential-based project with the Frontier Group of Cos. and attorney Craig Slater, said he has already received more than 70 inquiries — some dating back 18 months — about leasing one of Buffalo River Landing’s 78 apartments.

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“Interest is literally across the board,” Savarino said. “It is empty nesters. It is people from the suburbs who want to move back to Buffalo. It is millennials.”

Many years in the planning, Buffalo River Landing is another example of how private sector interests are gravitating towards the Buffalo River. Further up Ohio Street, Ellicott Development is building a mixed-use project that will include apartments and restaurants. Along Ganson Street, Buffalo RiverWorks continues to grow and evolve. And a new banquet facility is near completion at Peg’s Park, next door to the Ellicott project.

“There is quite a renaissance emerging along the Buffalo River,” said Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo.

In all, more than $82 million in private sector-fueled projects are either underway or planned along the Ohio Street or Buffalo River spine.

The river, in the 1970s was declared ecologically dead by federal officials but thanks to more than $100 million in federal funding and allocations made through Washington’s relicensing settlement with the New York Power Authority — shepherded by Higgins, the land is now prime Buffalo real estate.

“The public-sector investments laid the ground work,” Higgins said. “This is a different river than it once was. Much different.”

Savarino said his project, with its brown corten panels and glass exterior, pays homage to Buffalo’s industrial past including the many grain mills that neighbor the development. Buffalo River Landing was designed by CJS Architects of Buffalo.

“We hope this project serves as an example of what can happen here along Ohio Street and the Buffalo River,” Savarino said.