Queen City Landing court ruling under review by opponents

The two groups that have challenged Buffalo’s approval for the Queen City Landing project on the city’s waterfront said they are reviewing their legal options, including an appeal after a State Supreme Court ruling on Sept. 14 allowed the development to move ahead.

State Supreme Court Justice Donna Siwek’s decision in favor of the City of Buffalo and Queen City Landing developer Gerry Buchheit denied claims from opponents of the project that would dramatically change the landscape along the Outer Harbor. In the meantime work continues on the Fuhrmann Boulevard project that will see Buchheit develop a 23-story, residential-anchored building.

At issue was the possible impact the building may have on the environment, including fish and bird wildlife. Siwek, in her lengthy ruling, said various Buffalo agencies and departments gave Queen City Landing a thorough and extensive review and the city was in its right to approve the project.

Arthur Giacalone, attorney for city residents Margaret Wooster, Jay Burney, James Carr and Lynda Stephens, said he is discussing the group's two legal options: one is to file within a minimum of 30 days a “motion to re-argue” before Siwek in an effort to get the justice to reverse her decision; and the other is to file motions in the state’s Fourth Department Appellate Court in Rochester.

Giacalone declined further comment Thursday morning.

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeepers, which joined ranks with Giacalone’s clients, in the legal motion said it is also reviewing its options.

“We respect the opinion of the court on the issues, and are currently reviewing the ruling and considering an appeal,” Riverkeepers said in a prepared statement. “We believe this decision sets a poor precedent for all future development decisions on our waterfront. It is not our intention to block all development of this site, but rather to ensure that environmental laws are meaningfully followed and applied as New York State intended, in order to provide maximum protections for our lakefront, our water resources and our community.”

Sources said chances are strong that one, or both parties, may appeal Siwek's ruling.

Buchheit said he was “elated” with Siwek’s decision, which came after both sides presented lengthy arguments in a series of hearings held in State Supreme Court.

“We’re focused on continuing our work and on moving forward,” Buchheit said.

Asbestos removal and other remediation work on the Queen City Landing project began in July, shortly after Buchheit received final approval from the Buffalo Common Council and Buffalo Planning Board. That work is due to be completed in the next few weeks with demolition to follow later this fall.

In its 23 stories, Queen City Landing — set for the long vacant, former Freezer Queen warehouse just south of the Safe Water Marina and the nearly 400-acre Outer Harbor property — will be anchored by 200 market-rate apartments, two restaurants, a fitness center and attached parking garage.

Originally pegged at $60 million, Buchheit said the final development cost may approach $85 million.

Besides developing Queen City Landing, the project will provide public bike and walking paths heading towards Lake Erie and effectively opening up 20 acres of prime waterfront land that had been closed off for one century.

With its hefty development price tag, Queen City Landing is the largest privately-funded and backed development on Buffalo’s waterfront.

The project is on pace to be completed by late 2017 or early 2018.

Photo Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/news/2016/09/15/queen-city-landing-court-ruling-under-review-by.html#i1
Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/news/2016/09/15/queen-city-landing-court-ruling-under-review-by.html

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