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BUFFALO-As part of Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s regional economic development plan for the Buffalo/Niagara Falls region, the state’s chief executive reports millions of dollars in state funding commitments are earmarked for four major projects here. In announcing state funding for the Buffalo waterfront district, Spitzer says that Bass Pro Shops has agreed to be an anchor tenant occupying approximately 100,000 sf of space at the Canal Side project by the city’s Inner Harbor.

The plan calls for a Great Lakes Museum, a marketplace, public plaza, hotel and a 500,000-sf, $275-million mixed-use development. The plan, state officials say, calls for the demolition of the Aud sports arena and the old Donovan State Office building. Bass Pro Shops will be housed at the site of the Aud.

The entire Inner Harbor development project is expected to run approximately $300 million. The full amount of state grants for the venture has yet to be determined, however to date the state has already committed $28 million for the Canal Side project and $22 million for other inner harbor improvements from Empire State Development Corp.

Gov. Spitzer also announced $7 million in state funding for the Delaware 200 project, which involves the redevelopment of the more than 400,000-sf Thaddeus J. Dulski Federal Office Building in Downtown Buffalo. The $63.6-million project is being undertaken by a joint venture of Uniland Development Co. of Amherst, NY and Buffalo-based Acquest Development. The project will include 37 condominium units, a 150-room luxury hotel and more than 128,000 sf of class A office space. The JV is also eligible for up to $14.6 million in loans from Empire State Development’s Job Development Authority and its Economic Development Fund.

Jeff Hayes, project manager for Uniland Development, says interior demolition work has begun on the property. The Uniland-Acquest JV closed on the property this past spring. The General Services Administration sold the 15-story building last year to the JV in an on-line auction.

Gov. Spitzer also says that the state will invest nearly $8 million in upgrades to the Old Falls Street district in Downtown Niagara Falls and pledges that the long sought after expansion of the Peace Bridge will begin by November 2009. That project, which will include expanded traffic capacity at the span that links Buffalo and Fort Erie, Canada, is expected to cost $400 million to complete. No firm state funding estimates for that venture were released.

In discussing his plan for the region and his “City by City” approach to his Upstate Agenda released earlier this year, Gov. Spitzer says, “We often talk about the Upstate economy as if Upstate was some monolithic region, but quite the opposite is true. A ‘one size fits all’ approach hasn’t worked. Our approach recognizes the distinctive qualities of each of our Upstate cities, and develops a regional approach that targets projects for investment that can act as catalysts for growth.”

The funding for the projects in the Buffalo/Niagara region is the first of a promised series of regional economic development plans for the struggling Upstate economy to be released by the governor.

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