By James Fink, originally published in Buffalo Business First on Nov 14, 2019, 2:34pm EST Updated Nov 14, 2019, 2:41pm EST.

Queen City Landing project floats again on Buffalo waterfront

After years of delays a revised Queen City Landing development on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor is being proposed by developer Gerry Buchheit.

The cost has increased — to $100 million — while the size of the building has been reduced to 20 stories from 23 stories, anchored by 206 apartments and condominiums.

Two restaurants — one on the first floor and another on the sixth floor — are planned. The sixth-floor restaurant will also double as a banquet facility.

Other design changes remove a separate parking garage, replaced by an enclosed, 370-car ramp that will occupy floors two through five. Another 222 surface parking spaces facing Fuhrmann Boulevard are also planned.

Buchheit’s blueprint will have an 80-foot setback from the Lake Erie shoreline dedicated for green space and amenities such as a solar-powered swing set and 30 transient boat slips.

The latest version of the project will be submitted to City of Buffalo officials next month. If approved, construction of the oft-discussed project could begin by this spring.

“The design for the building has improved dramatically,” said Adam Walters, a Phillips Lytle LLP partner who will be presenting the project to the Buffalo Planning Board on Dec. 16.

Buchheit bought the property in a foreclosure auction in 2007 for $3 million. Multiple plans were released in the past decade and legal challenges were mounted by citizens opposed to it. The last legal action ended in 2018.

“While we were tied up in litigation, I decided to use that time to refine my vision,” Buchheit said. “The bottom line is I want to build something that is so cool for Buffalo.”

The new design by Toronto’s Diamond Schmitt Architects will include a bike path that circles Queen City Landing. The bike path and all of the waterfront green space will be open to the public, Buchheit said.

“I want the water side to be open to anyone,” Buchheit said.

The residential component will be a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units. Buchheit said the housing will be a mix of market-rate apartments and condos, but the breakdown has yet to be determined. The residential units will range in size from 850-square-feet to 2,134-square-feet for a three-bedroom penthouse. Rental and sales prices have not been determined.

Buchheit first proposed a project for the 20-acre site along Fuhrmann Boulevard in 2008.

In 2016, he proposed a 23-story residential tower for the site.

In the current proposal, the developer made several significant changes, including dropping plans for the parking garage, moving the building back 25 more feet from the shoreline, dropping its height by 48 feet to 240 feet and reducing its footprint by 22,000 square feet to 470,444 square feet.

Gone are plans for a rooftop pool, replaced by a community gathering spot for the building’s residential tenants.

Buchheit plans on bringing in a retailer to lease kayaks and bicycles.

Pending obtaining various Buffalo approvals, Buchheit hopes to begin Queen City Landing’s construction next spring with a target completion in 2021.