HSBC: Deal by Thursday or “We’re Out”

The summer of Inner Harbor ultimatums continues.  HSBC Bank wants the City to agree to transferring title to the Webster Block at the foot of Main Street by Thursday or the bank will pull out of downtown.  The bank, which has been studying its options for when its lease at One HSBC Center expires in 2013, is reportedly eyeing a relocation to new space at the foot of Main Street.  If rumors hold true, the bank would construct a building on a parking lot it owns behind its Atrium office building, plus take space planned in a mixed-use Webster Block development. 

The Buffalo Common Council must approve of the land transfer and has been reluctant to sign-on to a deal put together by Mayor Brown and Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation officials.  This afternoon in a special session called by the mayor, the Council voted 5-4 to table the sale of the property.  At stake is 4,000 HSBC jobs downtown. 

WIVB has the news:

According to Buffalo Common Council Majority Leader Rich Fontana, the executive vice president of HSBC North America told him Tuesday morning that if a deal is not struck by Thursday, “we’re out.”

Buffalo Niagara Partnership President and CEO Andrew Rudnick would not comment to Senior Correspondent Rich Newberg on a Thursday deadline.

He told Newberg, the transfer “needs to be done, we need to do everything we can to show any perspective investor and tenant in the canal side project that we are welcoming them, and doing everything we can to facilitate a positive decision.”

Rudnick went on to say, “Major investment opportunities in the country and our community are few and far between, given economic conditions.”

Fontana says the internal process of decision making at HSBC will happen this week.

About the author  ⁄ queenseyes

Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Catalyst behind the Pierce-Arrow Film Arts Center. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette. Themed New Years mayhem at various locations. Next up: Porchfest... Also offers package tours of the city for groups or individuals. Contact Newell Nussbaumer | Newell@BuffaloRising.com

92 comments
MrGreenJeans
MrGreenJeans

This may have been said already (as I cannot read through the 91 comments!) but: How, exactly, can an ALERT, active corporation stare at an empty lot in front of its own Emerald City for years & then SUDDENLY decide it MUST have that spot, or bust? Utter BS. HSBC, the hostile-takeover killer of Marine Midland, has a gigantic parking lot on which to expand, and has NO intention of losing its cheap labor here in Buffalo. They moved most of their jobs here for a reason: because people work for peanuts, in Buffalo.

HSBC is a foreign entity of British bastards, sucking all profits from this and every area of the USA. Screw them; they return NOTHING to us.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/0Vn9iTYLuYU9DxBJstlsSlspoh_
https://me.yahoo.com/a/0Vn9iTYLuYU9DxBJstlsSlspoh_

I don't see a problem with the ECDC having the property at all. It should have been included in their plans to start with. I don't even have a problem with the current transfer wording. If HSBC doesn't decide to do something with it by the end of the year, the transfer is nullified. (and their meeting to even consider the possibility isn't until October)

The problem I have with this is 1) the possibility of HSBC building a suburban structure in the middle of the most cohesive URBAN development the city has seen in years. There should have been stipulations that if HSBC does build there, they do so as part of a multi-use structure which includes ground-level space for retail and entertainment. So what if it's nine stories instead of seven, it would be the beginning of the Canal Harbor development.

2) What is going to happen to the tower? This economy does not favor the addition of that much new office space at the expense of vacating existing space. Who's to say that HSBC will be any happier as a tenant of the ECDC in 10 years than they are right now with the tower's current owners? Having rights to the Webster block at least gives them some leverage to pressure the tower's owners into renovating as necessary. Somebody needs to remind them that LEED certified is rarely greener than using an existing structure. If HSBC, city hall and ECDC put pressure on the tower to step up and renovate, we can avoid this mess altogether.

3) Moving to the suburbs is NOT a viable option for the future. That is exactly what put Detroit in the bind they are now in. Even newer cities like Charlotte and Atlanta are beginning to realize that suburban sprawl was a boom in the 20th century that will haunt them in the coming decades (trust me, Atlanta will be the 21st century Detroit if they continue to rely on automobiles and decentralized sprawl). No matter what you think about climate change and the foreign oil supply, the most successful developments in the past few decades have been urban, not suburban.

4) It's a mistake to think that this is just a City Hall problem or a ECDC issue. The patchwork of land involved affects HSBC as well as the Sabres, the Senecas, NFTA, even the Marina and Marine Drive. Obviously, we can't have a cluster-f#k of interested parties at the table... but a board that negotiates for (and between) the entire development and neighboring properties would get a lot further than what is happening now. If that's the ECDC, so be it, but not with their hands tied behind their back like they are now.

We really need to wait and see what the HSBC London meeting decides before we know for sure what will happen. But in the meantime, City Hall and the ECDC need to demonstrate that they are not only able to give in to whatever HSBC wants... they need to be more active in exploring and offering solutions BEFORE they come to a head like this. Now is not the time for them to hang their heads and say they don't know what to do because Bass Pro pulled the plug. They've had more than ten years to come up with contingency plans and alternative options for this whole thing. We can't afford to shoot our silver bullet into the basket with all our eggs again.

5to81ALLDAY
5to81ALLDAY

i seriously don't get why there is so much arguing on here. How does everyone not know what is going on with HSBC by now?!?!

HSBC is NOT leaving Buffalo and NOT going to the suburbs either.

their only option is their current tower, building next to the atrium, or the Webster block.

HSBC want larger floor plates to reduce such things as multiple mailmen and wasting time in a elavator. They also want to promote that they are a Green company which is why they are seeking a new build that would be LEED certified and improve their image.

MARK MY WORDS.... HSBC builds a LEED certified "campus like" building rougly 7-10 stories tall which will have their desired larger plates and give them a better Green image. The current HSBC tower is too outdated and wastes way too much energy.

END OF STORY - Case closed!!! no more need for debate

whatever
whatever

Paul, I might have used too broad a brush about all museums (implying none have spinoff), and I won't argue against the non-economic value of the canal/transportation museum you suggest. Not everything in life is about money.

However, I question how likely it would have real economic spinoff more than costs for it. For how many out-of-town visitors would it be a main reason for traveling here? Very few. Isn't that the only way it could have real economic spinoff? If a local person eats at a restaurant next to a museum or at a restaurant not near one, there's no difference.

Isn't Syracuse said to have a pretty good Erie Canal museum? I wonder if it's caused more real spinoff there than its costs.

My comment's context was replying to brownteeth's criticism of Bini Park for not creating jobs or generate revenue. I pointed out most of the non-park ideas (except HSBC so far) on a net basis won't create real jobs or generate revenue either. It was a comparative defense of the park more than an attack on museums, retail, etc.

LouisTully
LouisTully

Tough read. She uses so many one sentence paragraphs that have multiple thoughts going on, and separates them with so many commas and hyphens that you have to go back to the beginning of the paragraph/ sentence to even remember what she is talking about. Nevertheless, interesting. I recall the part of the four squares in Philly. If I'm not mistaken, they are all much better areas now than they were.

brian.collesano
brian.collesano

Pathetic.

The situation, the post, the comments.

Am I taking crazy pills?? People are discussing museums and parks and WASHED UP FISHING STORES???

Shame.

Shame on BRO for taking such an incredibly LIMP position on a critical issues like the fate of thousands of downtown jobs, corporate blackmail, insider backroom dealing -- and several million dollars worth of PUBLIC canalside property. I guess it was tough to flesh out this story between your in-depth reports on horse carriages in Delaware Park and Rom-Coms playing at UB...

To whom are you now beholden? What does your unprecedented (in WNY) alt-media access cost? Your integrity? Is it worth the supine position you've taken in deference to Mayor Brown and Larry Quinn? Suddenly BRO is just a passive conduit for local news? Spare me. If that's what I was looking for I'd be reading one of Berkshire Hathaway's rags.

You are our last hope (no offense to increasingly-off-the-deep-end Artvoice). I (we, I hope) expect you to be the independent, corporately un-affiliated voice speaking up -- and facilitating other voices speaking up -- against what passes for the media in Western New York.

News Flash: When you're facing a listicle like this:

- Statler mothballed

- Bills polling at the bottom of NFL -- again

- Bass Pro telling our community to "get bent"

- HSBC blackmailing our representatives to hand over public property

- Carl - I'm so angry about all the money I've accepted from the state of New York while raking in millions - Paladino making a legit run at the GOP nod for GOV

- The Peace Bridge -- well -- the Peace Bridge

- Route 5 back on a community-killing berm

- The Casino skeleton rusting

- Tonawanda Coke indicted

Your goal of highlighting the "positive and interesting people and places that make our city unique" seems like a diversion. A diversion from the UGLY truth.

The truth is, this city's leadership is rotting from the core (think maggots and hollow eye sockets). It's contagious. And we're all suffering because of it.

It's time to step up.

If Bryan "I went to college but not really" Davis can get elected to the city council why not run Newell "I love Buffalo so much I can't even see it falling apart at the seams" Nussbaumer (number TWO in a google search!!!)??? If he's not up to it, some else. Anyone! 95% of the BRO commenters are more qualified than our current city council! I'd throw some cash at that candidacy.

All this idle chatter means NOTHING so long as the A$$hats at city hall continue the charade.

Confession: I'm leaving. I grew up here. I left here. I came back here so full of hope and anticipation. And now I'm getting out of dodge again -- and maybe for good.

"Buffalo ain't Detroit" -- yet.

The Kettle
The Kettle

I had the same book in mind when all this park talk started. In one of the chapters she looks at four parks in Philly and shows that the only healthy one is surrounded by diverse uses to keep people in and out of the park throughout the day and week. The others are in areas that are too office or residential intensive and as a result are underused and, at best, havens for the homeless, and at worst, breeding grounds for crime.

It would be nice if the ECH planners or city planners in general would read up on some JJ.

buffaluv
buffaluv

What are the current plans for the Donovan building now?

Why not give that to HSBC either as is for refurb or without building for new build?

The Kettle
The Kettle

I agree with Brownteeth, Bini, your small scale retail idea sounded much better than making the Aud site one huge park. Like retail and other land uses, parks are not automatically success when you plop them down anywhere. They need lots of nearby residents, shops, offices etc to feed the park with regular users. That is why Delaware Park works and places like Riverside, MLK, Front are underused. There is plenty of greenspace along the warf and the waters edge. Now the task should be to fill the remaining space with offices, residences and shops to feed the existing parkland users throughout the day.

Bini>"Pocket parks are busy downtown (Lafayette, Cathedral, marina). Evidently people who enjoy the urban core also enjoy those postage stamp parks."

These places are busy during lunchtime on weekdays and have other users during special events but are desolate at other times of the day/week. That has gotten a little better since more people started moving downtown but the parks are still disproportionately at short periods of time on weekdays.

Some of the neighborhood parks have the opposite problem. Baseball games and walkers in the evening but nothing during lunch or the early hours. Delaware is probably the healthiest park in town because it is surrounded by land uses that keep people in the area throughout the entire day.

bobarrel
bobarrel

Folks, this is not rocket science. Both Toronto and Chicago have several public beaches which are accessible from the downtown area. Check out this description from a Toronto website:

"Toronto’s many beaches are home to a number of activities. From sunbathing to beach volleyball, the city’s sandy shores cater to all ages. With several sites across the city, Toronto's beaches are all easily accessible via public transit from the downtown core, from the East, or West ends of the city."

http://ontario-travel.suite101.com/article.cfm/a_guide_to_torontos_best

_beaches

It is also true for Chicago as this wikipedia entry (with a great shot of the beach and the high rises) indicates:

"The beaches in Chicago are an extensive network of waterfront recreational areas operated by the Chicago Park District."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_beaches

Do those beaches sound like something you might want to check out if you were in the area ???

Now Buffalo has a truly great lake but with NO BEACHES accessible from downtown. Do you think that such beaches might make a difference ??? Do you think that a lot of people including tourists visiting Niagara Falls might be drawn to an interactive water front in nearby Buffalo ???

Is it difficult to build a beach ??? I know the Federal

Government spends tens if not hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars every year to refurbish the beaches of the outer banks in the Carolinas. They take sand from the ocean bed and dump it where the land meets the water. Lake Erie also has plenty of sand available and it would be a lot easier and cheaper to put in some beaches than to lure a BassPro downtown.

Urban Cowboy
Urban Cowboy

If the CBA is signed by the ECHDC at any point it will mean the end of the canalside project. No businesses in Buffalo currently could support a 20% increase in running cost, let alone a new business with high overhead. It is a dumb idea, created by dumb people.

Why doesn't the common council put the same agreement on their district and see how long it takes to turn into the East Side. Elmwood and Chip would fold in a year.

Hopefully at some point before this project is dead, the common council and people of buffalo realize that having a unique canal side to enjoy, along with a million dollars to help the local districts is better then having NOTHING,ZILCH,ZERO,GOOSE EGG.

It really is that simple....CBA= nothing but a few high priced spot coffees and mighty tacos.

There is no arguement...name me one business that has gone anywhere knowingly accepting 20% hit to profits, especially in this economy.

CBA is a great idea and looks amazing on paper, but simply from a business standpoint, it looks like opening up shop in another city.

bobarrel
bobarrel

"Before you were clouding the issue by implying the decision had to affect waterfront access which the Webster block really doesn't." Whatever, it does if money for Canalside ends up subsidizing some HSBC project. With record profits this year, HSBC does not need taxpayer money, especially money earmarked for a public project. The trouble is that we don't know all the details of this transaction and we should. I like most others are suspicious of the take-it-or-leave-it nature of the deal and HSBC's threat of pulling out. Usually when someone tries to force their will in such a way and with such an immediate deadline it is to hide something sweet for them.

whatever
whatever

Bob, that ducks the question. I asked if you're agruing against making the Webster block land available to HSBC, and instead of yes or no you replied something about not wanting money given to HSBC.

Before you were clouding the issue by implying the decision had to affect waterfront access which the Webster block really doesn't.

If you're against making the Webster block available to HSBC, why not just say so along with the reasoning? There's no need for everyone to agree about it.

Urban Cowboy
Urban Cowboy

With all do respect, I would just like to say that this is embarrassing. While I believe no one on here has any bad intentions, that fact remains: We have a corporation, in charge of creating a waterfront which is restore downtown. They have the money. The leading anchor was chased out of town, regardless of reason. That part of subsidizing is over.

So now.....what good is not turning over the land, to ECHDC. They are here to help us not hurt us. They want to create something unique. This should be a no brain-er... even without the HSBC factor. Any businesses or construction happening in buffalo is great! Lets not stop it. Please don't stop it.

Finally, why do you turn over all the land so quickly now that HSBC has some interest? Answer: Because we should be flattering them at all cost. The city, mayor, and common council should be thanking them for even considering to build there. We are not bigger then them.....Bass Pro..maybe....but one of the largest Banking Corporations in the world???? We should be telling them that we will help with anything they need. Who on here really knows what they could be thinking and why all of our upper level politicians are trying to hurry this along.... Maybe they are thinking about building their own 600 ft 50 story building to dominate the skyline....maybe not. We need to act... I insist that everyone on here CALL THEIR LOCAL REPRESENTATIVE AND LET THEM KNOW THAT THIS IS BIG....bigger then grudges or wage agreements.... this is the real deal and if we mess this up it might set us back another 50 years..... Just think about the cost benefit... Hand over the land and the possibility for the city could be more then any of us imagine. Wait to long and it might be business as usual for Buffalo....

DTK2OD
DTK2OD

Haha what gave me away? I've sort of created a self-imposed reading list for the summer to prep for my grad program this fall. She's definitely one of my favorites so far. The fact that many of her theories and observations still hold as true today as they did in 1961 is a testament to how forward thinking she was.

bobarrel
bobarrel

"So you aren't against the city making the Webster block available to HSBC as at least 5 votes on the Council want to do?" I have a problem with connecting it to Canalside. I don't believe that HSBC should have access to taxpayer money which has been set aside for the waterfront.

bobarrel
bobarrel

"Should we really be focusing so much energy on executive salaries? Should we get rid of HSBC in favor of smaller "family or local" banks?" We are still recovering from a banking crisis of catastrophic proportions which was due in part to the SIZE of the banking institutions as well as the criminal bahavior of the corporate board room. The trouble with big corporations is that they have taken control of our democracy and are accountable to no one. Even though

their board members are not democratically elected their tremendous hoards of money allow them to buy policy which is of necessity against the interests of the vast majority of the people. Such anti-American policy includes such travesties as unsafe working conditions for miners as evidenced by the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in which 29 miners were killed, unsafe working conditions for oil platforms as evidenced by the BP disaster and the environmental catastrophe which has ensued, the large drug companies ability to get a Medicare supplemental bill which unnecessarily diverted huge resources to them, the virtual enslavement of chicken farmers by Tyson as recently documented on 60 minutes, the corrosive monopolistic effect of Walmart upon local businesses which has also been well documented, the selfish and prejudicial refusal to pay claims by large health insurance companies, deliberately hiding drug research in which drugs like Vioxx were known to cause stroke and heart attack, the ability of large tobacco companies to hide the addictive nature of their product, the practices of large banks to enslave huge segments of the population by

using deceit and usurious interest rates, etc.,etc.,etc. Exorbitant executive salaries and bonuses are part of those excesses. Not only are they not justified, but they are solely determined by the board of directors without the input of stock holders. The bottom line is that you have a small group of individuals who under the mask of the corporation are able to act in illegal and anti-societal ways with no

accountablity and no motive but GREED and GOLDEN PARACHUTES for themselves.

KenS
KenS

I thought HSBC was just talking about a new building where the atrium parking lot is today? That being said, if they want the Webster block location, give it to them. Otherwise it will remain a parking lot for the next 30 years.

whatever
whatever

bob>"Yes, Whatever, I realize where it is located. The problem is the transfer of this property to Canalside project which does cover access to the water and which has special funding for that access."

Bob, but your wording makes it sound as if HSBC is demanding the water-access parts be transferred to ECHDC. What's any real evidence of that? (I don't know if any of the city-owned land is on the water, but regardless, the Webster block isn't.)

So you aren't against the city making the Webster block available to HSBC as at least 5 votes on the Council want to do?

Holeabove
Holeabove

DTK i see you like Jane Jacobs

whatever
whatever

bt>"I think those businesses do create jobs. It’s not like they’re going to take waiters from another restaurant and close it down."

Any area's total number of waiters (and cashiers, and movie ticket takers) has to depend on how many people go out to eat (and shop, and see movies) in total and how often. That in turn depends on their employment, income, and spending decisions. Just adding restaurants, stores, and movie theaters can't do it.

bt>"People will still eat on Hertel and Elmwood as well as here. "

Of course, but the same families won't eat in both Canalside and Hertel on the same night. Unless people increase the number of times they eat out, there'd have to be fewer meals sold somewhere and that's where waiter pay comes from. And if they eat out more, there's less money for spending on something else on which jobs here depend.

bt>"Options and competition is not a bad thing."

Options and competition are great. Again, I'm not against privately funded stores or restaurants deciding to be at Canalslide. What bugs me lately are claims that it's real growth and that Canalside retail can turn around the region's economy (you didn't claim that, but Jordan Levy and others have).

I thought Bini elaborated on his suggestion more than changed it. But maybe you're right, maybe he changed it. He can clarify.

I agree with you park-like public space shouldn't be the whole thing, but it might be all we see for a while if a lot of market demand is many years away.

DTK2OD
DTK2OD

A lot of really good points. Like I stated on another story earlier this week, where is the critical mass to support an expansive waterfront park? Most of the parks users would be concentrated during the routine working hours of 9:00-5:00 and weekends. Who/what is going to fill the void left during the other 16 hours? Like you stated, residential and entertainment could go a long way in providing a stable and diverse pool of users to draw from. Parks are more shaped and transformed by their surrounding neighborhoods than vice versa.

You know what other kind of development swears by large swaths of green and open space? Housing projects... which is why their borders act as vacuums of deadness to the surrounding neighborhoods. (Obviously Canal Side and housing projects are located in radically different environments, but it is a mistake in both cases to think that more open space will lead to a more vibrant urban community.

sho'nuff
sho'nuff

I don't disagree with you in regards to the middle class; however there are many routes and avenues to achieving that class in life beyond the small or family owned businesses. There is a certain amount of security offered by big businesses, in terms of benefits, resillience to the market, retirement, etc that provides a better solution for middle class Americans.

I am not sure that comparing the wages of the average employee to that of an executive is fair. It takes tremendous sacrifice and skill to be a CEO of a large organization, this is a job that the overwhelming majority of employees could never do. There is market scarcity for skilled CEOs for large organizations, and their salaries and benefits are public knowledge. CEOs have gone through a similar escalation in benefits and pay that hollywood actors, professional athletes, and other elite professionals go through. Look at our first round pick for the Bills, he wants to make more than most veterans and has yet to prove himself, but because he knows what others are earning his ego tells him that he deserves more, and next year the same thing will happen with those picks. There are no salary caps in corporate management, beyond those imposed by the board. That said, corporate America seems to be doing a better job of controlling salaries and benefits than Hollywood or the NFL and NBA.

For instance, the average salary for a Fortune 500 CEO is $9.25 Million per year, according to sevearl sources. The average salary for the 500 top paid actors and actresses is $29 Million. The top 500 CEOS are responsible for assets and revenue of over $21 Trillion dollars, mostly public traded companies. The profits of these companies result in increased wealth to share holders and employees, as more than 80% of the Fortune 500 companies offer employee stock purchase, share matching, and employee 401k matching as benefits. This contributes to the middle class, all at the price of about $10M per year in CEO salaries.

Compare that to the $29M average salary for the top 500 actors and actresses, and $64M average for the top 100 actors and actresses. They contribute roughly $25 Billion dollars in revenue, which is paid to the actors, directors, producers, and underwriters.

Compare this to the average salary of the top 100 professional athletes is $21 Million for 2009.

If you compare the average salary of an employee at the Fortune 500 companies, as compared to CEO compensation, to the average salary of movie industry employee to that of the highest paid actors and actresses, to that of the average worker involved in sports to that of the highest salary of the players on the field, in the ring, or on the course. You will find that by proportion, the worker in the Fortune 500 company is earning more money, sharing more of the profits, and has better benefits.

The issue is that we see no problem with paying Tiger Woods $115M+ for hitting a golf ball and doing endorsements, or paying Oprah $275M+ for her show and network, and contributing very little to others. We do, however, see an issue with paying Larry Ellison $84.5M to run Oracle, a company that produced a 33% profit and a $.05 per share dividend in 2009. To bring this closer to home, Michael Geoghan, the CEO of HSBC, earns just over $1M per year in salary and earns a bonus of just over $4M (which he donated to charity). The average Buffalo employee of HSBC earns approximately $58,000 according to a 2009 filing to the State.

Should we really be focusing so much energy on executive salaries? Should we get rid of HSBC in favor of smaller "family or local" banks? I don't think so.

brownteeth
brownteeth

Bini’s original idea was fantastic and that’s what I would like to see. Then it seemed as if he changed his idea to just having a park and none of the other amenities you mention such as residences, restaurants, retail etc. I think those businesses do create jobs. It’s not like they’re going to take waiters from another restaurant and close it down. People will still eat on Hertel and Elmwood as well as here. Options and competition is not a bad thing. New businesses that didn’t exist before will now employ workers, even if at $8/hr it’s a job that someone will be happy to have even if it’s only college students.

I think my previous comments were taken a bit out of context. I am not against park space down there just not the whole space. This space should not just be for city residents to use but folks from anywhere. We need to pull in as many people into downtown as possible and I don’t think a park or large green space will draw as many people as a new district of businesses and residences.

geomike
geomike

@LouisTully - I think your answer is the land transfer is simply to give the ECHDC land that it can manage autonomously, rather than going through the city. So ECHDC is just acting as a mini-authority, adding another layer to the beaurocracy comapnies will go through locate here. If we had actual REGIONAL planning, or even cohesive/functional city planning, they would be obsolete. And by planning I don't mean permits, and I don't mean aspirational powerpoint decks, but an entity other than the mayor that drives development across the city with a long-term vision, not a short-term focus on good press releases.

rb09
rb09

OMG! This is insane.

This city can't get out of it's own way.

Holeabove
Holeabove

There is green space on the water, and all along the water all the way out to the hatch. Likewise there is tons of green space in the outer harbor, which should be connected by bridge. The city has a green space galore. What is needed is people living near that green space to "police" at all hrs. if the density is there that space will become and eyesore and full of blight if it is stand alone. Parks and green space are an asset to existing communities not something that will draw thousands to the water. If that were the case they would all ready be there. The water is the anchor. what is need is a vibrant mix use district focused on entertainment and residential and not retail. It should be urban and walkable not to exclusion of greenspace, but not focussing on green space. i think if people wanted to go to a park they would go to delaware park given the choice. as the district becomes more dense and viable the retail sector will fill in around it. either into downtown or into cobblestone. The district should concentrate on creating density and retail parks and museums do not do that.

buffaluv
buffaluv

You CAN get to LaSalle park from downtown, not by car but on foot, bike, etc!!!! You just have to walk down the street through Waterfront Village...poor planning to not have a better access from downtown but it is connected. Now does Waterfront Village want cross through traffic...LOL

PaulBuffalo
PaulBuffalo

'Museums absorb revenue.'

Whatever, good museums generate spinoff revenue at restaurants, hotels, etc. The problem in Buffalo is, with the exception of the Albright, the existing local museums don't have the necessary internal components to make them regional attractions that guarantee repeat visitors.

I think an Erie Canal Museum, a transportation museum, etc. are great ideas but they must be executed properly to ensure success. If Buffalo can't get the Historical Society right after decades of static exhibits, I'm dubious about the potential of these other proposed museums.

biniszkiewicz
biniszkiewicz

transportation museum in the aud would have been outstanding! shame

whatever
whatever

Bini's park idea is a lot better than most I've seen, and more realistic, and really it's similar to what a lot of people are suggesting without using the word park. I'll use bt's critique of Bini's idea to respond.

brownteeth>"If they want a grassy area so bad why do they live in a city? ...How will that generate revenue or create jobs and places to live?"

Except for possible HSBC expansion (if we consider retaining good jobs to be creating), none of the suggestions I've noticed so far will "generate revenue or create jobs".

Museums absorb revenue. Retail, restaurants, and bowling alleys are all nice but don't create revenue or jobs. They move revenue and jobs. People who go to the waterfront to eat won't be eating at a Hertel restaurant that night. Of course, waterfront restaurants shouldn't be forbidden. But jobs and tax revenue at them would happen here anyway. (btw, Paul, this is the similarity I see between what some say about Skyway Side and historic tax credits - for both, some claim things retail and restaurants will create jobs and new revenue).

About "places to live", I don't think Bini is saying no residential at Canalside. To the contrary, on the other post he said there should be space for private development. That could include anything developers want to do privately - condos, stores, bars - anything they want.

The park can be thought of as a public place to hang out by the water, with grass and trees instead of just concrete. Good public amenities (tables, benches, restrooms, wi-fi, bike/skate paths, etc.) could make it better some ways than Erie Basin Marina. Also, Bini Park would have more convenient access than the marina, and could have space for concerts and events.

I'm skeptical that a lot of year-round restaurants or cafes would succeed at the waterfront, but a few might and could be near the "park". If the word park bothers any urbanists, it could be called "public access area by the water that just happens to have grass and trees".

flyguy
flyguy

First I just dont understand the complaints about the HSBC atrium. Second I see people continuously fearing a move to Amherst by HSBC. I would say considering WESTERN NEW YORK is really all in the same boat together that the fear should be HSBC uproots all together and takes its corporate offices out of town, out of state even. This city versus town and visa versa is a perfect example to show how western new yorkers are closed off to truly regional thinking. In other states in this country there are no separate towns, its either city or county period. No more town of Clarence or Amherst, they are just areas within a County that is policed, planned for, taxed, etc. all by one entity. Inevtably downtown WILL suffer from HSBC relocating out of downtown but the impact of a move out of town all together would kill triple hard.

Holeabove
Holeabove

Let me remind everyone that Hsbc has not said they want that land. Larry quinn and Byron brown have said that hsbc could be considering the webster block. When HSBC comes out right and says something then my stance might change. But until then and even maybe after that if ECHDC whants the land they need to sign that CBA. its a pretty simple concept

Andrzej
Andrzej

Agreed 1,000 times over. With the Aud gone, we lost a great opportunity for a large transportation musuem (planes from the rafters, boats, locomotives, etc.). Now that it is gone, let's do what Bob suggests. We need to focus on what makes us, us. I agree, the water is enough to draw me there, I don't need a Gap, a Fudge Factory with employees singing phony songs, etc. Look how many people visit the Commercial slip on any given day. Set up an info. booth, let people sell food out of carts, etc. That's enough for me and for tourists who come by. I agree with Brian Higgins when he says "The water is the anchor". !

bobarrel
bobarrel

"Canalside is a pork project, you may want to check your assumptions before making your comment." I disagree. According to Wiki, "Pork barrel is a derogatory term referring to appropriation of government spending for localized projects secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative's district." Canalside is certainly a "localized project" but was not conceived to "solely or primarily bring money to a representative's district." Using a land transfer to Canalside to give each council member a million dollars for improving business in their district would turn it into pork, but the project itself has had a life and a demand by citizens prior to procuring funds.

As for the assumption that we need big business in order to give stockholders dividends or that corporate profits are

not "coming at the expense of employees" it is based upon a naive view of big corporations as they exist today. Neither stockholders or employees benefit from CEOS making an average of 10 million dollars a year whether the company makes a profit or not. Nor do they benefit from upper level management making excessive salaries and obscene perks or from the corporation using off-shore tax shelters, loopholes and other legal ways of burying profits. The increasing disparity between RICH and POOR in this country has not been as large as it currently is since the twenties. Between 1998 and 2005, 66 percent of American corporations paid no income taxes and the percentage of federal tax dollars coming from corporations is only 6 percent whereas it was 25 percent in the fifties. The bottom line is that large corporations do not pay their fair share of taxes, underpay their employees,

cheat stockholders out of dividend funds and have ruined the face of the country with corporate franchise strip malls which have driven millions of local entrepreneurs out of business and turned the business districts into one same old same same old boring clone. The alternative would be to break up the big boys, deny legal "person status" to corporations and for local communities to deny access to corporate franchises by demanding a living wage or by enacting building codes which prohibt the "CLONE LOOK." A strong Middle Class is based on small and family businesses, not people working for sub-living wages at Walmart.

Gardner
Gardner

A living wage agreement is nothing more than political posturing -- not sound economic policy. Research has shown that these agreements have very limited benefits, and when they do, it is either in strong labor markets or when it is implemented on a county or municipal-wide basis -- neither of these applies in Buffalo's case....

I hope Buffalo politics doesn't cost the city, or region, thousands of jobs.....

biniszkiewicz
biniszkiewicz

I think most council members and the public agree. Few say: "don't sell the Webster block to HSBC." Most of us would be pleased to do so.

The objection is to the handover of the "whole enchilada" (to quote the Council president) to the entity that is the harbor development corporation. Sell HSBC the land directly. Why do you need that middleman? Brown still has retail dreams and these eyes still fear Disney-esque nightmares resulting from those dreams. Brown wants this in Quinn's hands because they agree, conceptually, on what should be there. I don't agree with them on this, nor do some others.

If HSBC is the question, than the Webster block is the answer, not the remaining land at issue. The Aud site, the land between the Aud and the water up to the canal is what we're talking about. It's not a big piece. And Brown wants us to sign up for giving it all away to some McStore. Well, I'm done with that idea. I think it's dumb as hell. I'll lend my voice to stopping that madness.

Urban Cowboy
Urban Cowboy

I apologize afor the f-bombs. After the last month of intensely watching buffalo politics, I'm running on a short wick.

I just want everyone to ask themselves.... Is HSBC really trying to play games? Are they trying to take advantage of the system? A major company, and top 3 in WNY, is asking for city to cooperate for their expansion in downtown, without subsidies, and the common council still can't get over an "unknown" suspicion.

How many people on here would rather no land be transferred and HSBC stay at the main tower or leave, or a full transfer, HSBC builds new buildings, possibly bring new jobs, to the Canal side area? I just feel like this should be a no brainer, even for buffalo.

brownteeth
brownteeth

I’m not saying to turn Canal Side into a concrete jungle. I’m not saying our parks are under utilized. I said they are meeting the demand. LaSalle Park is a ½ mile walk from the entrance of Erie Basin Marina if you follow the bike path. There are also benches and small pocket park spaces under the skyway/190 that I almost never see anyone using. Perhaps the canal side village could have a small “town square” in the center but to turn the whole thing into a park would be a mistake. However, if that land is just going to sit as is for another decade then yeah it may as well be a park but I’m hopeful that won’t be the case. Either way the green space should be proportionate to the demand and scale of the project. In a downtown core people expect more buildings than grass, that’s what cities are. To rephrase my last comment, if you want sprawling grassy areas perhaps the downtown core of a city is not the right place for you to be. Obviously some greenery in the mix is welcome.

biniszkiewicz
biniszkiewicz

New twist:

1. Webster Block to HSBC, as above.

2. Aud block and patch of earth to the water: The Erie Canal National Park, an archeologically significant national asset.

Human beings have lived in North America for 14,000-20,000 years, something like that? All of the time they lived in North America, I'll bet they lived right there at the foot of the river, where it meets the lake and the land is nice and flat. I'll bet people always lived there. Are you kidding? Good fishing, easy farming, easy transportation? Like moths to a flame, people would have lived there back in the day. I'll bet there's lots of stuff buried in the ground right there. Stuff that could tell us lots about human history here.

Even if the only artifacts uncovered related only to the white man's era, it could still be a very interesting archeological park. And the national park service would do the preservation/excavation (where chosen) right. Make it a delightful, useful public space, lots of trees, water access. Donate it to the National Park Service and let them uncover or preserve history as they see fit. I'd like something Williamsburghy, not Disneyesque.

I never imagined the actual Erie Canal Terminus was still down there, working as a sewer. Who knew? That is, at least I didn't know until the obstructionists stopped the Disneyesque recreation of a fake terminus with the signage which was to tell visitors something similar once stood over yonder. That would have been so cool! Damned obstructionists! Always stopping s*!t from getting done. (The good news is, the stuff they're obstructing is more often than not exactly that: scheisse.)

People already are drawn here, by the warships ships, by the marina, by the sun, by the mini swimless beach, by the canal, by the Sabres. Give them, and the rest of downtown, a beautiful waterfront park which also serves as a historical tourist attraction.

sho'nuff
sho'nuff

Canalside is a pork project, you may want to check your assumptions before making your comment. "Main Street" and "Wall Street" are not mutually exclusive concepts, but recently media and our elected officials have been pushing the concept that the general public is suffering due to corporate profits. Is there abuse in corporate America, absolutely, but many have taken the stance that all business is corrupt and inherently bad for local economy. They have taken a position that corporate profits are coming at the expense of employees. In effect, we have taken the "Union vs. management" battle to a whole new level.

Main Street and Wall Street do coexist. The majority of non-home owner wealth in America comes from the success of publically traded companies and their continued growth and the profits that generates for stock holders. Retirement plans, both public and private, are heavily tied to corporate success, there is no alternative beyond government funded pensions that will increase the burden on all taxpayers. The fact is that we need business, especially the big business that provides stability and consistency to the stock markets.

I support a living wage for career employees, but not for transient and temporary positions. I am left wondering that if the living wage is so crucial to the waterfront project, then why isn't a living wage required for all city and public contracts? Why aren't all city contracts contingent on a living wage requirement? Should all human services workers be paid a living wage? It seems that companies like People Incorporated or Visiting Nurses, who recive the majority of their funding from the government, should be paid a living wage. Most of these employees in these government funded companies are making minimum wage or just slightly above minimum. Shouldn't we focus equal energy on adopting a living wage for these companies? These companies offer more of a career than a McDonalds, Walmart, or Bass Pro.

Holeabove
Holeabove

well said Louis, if they want the land sign the cba, ECHDC are being obstructionist right now by not signing the CBA. For once the common council is listening to its districts.

Scottwf
Scottwf

hsbc isn't going to show there cards, this is a lease negotiation for a considerable amount of office space. it's part of the process to play one landlord against another. they are working to get the best deal possible. it seems as if our city and it's "leaders" aren't grown up or sophisticated enough to understand this. as they argue, hsbc is considering other options. transfer the land. it's not as if they are requesting to build something horrible.

Allentwnguy
Allentwnguy

I would also like to know how this puzzle fits together. Isn't the vice president of HSBC on the board of Buffalo First? Buffalo First has ties with ECHDC through the Rock the Harbor etc. I would like to see the connections. This is just curiosity. Ahh to be the proverbial fly!

But bottom line HSBC has always supported numerous Buffalo non-profits. Monetarily and with the loan of hardware (barriers from the arena etc.) They have been good for the city and we should do what we can to keep them and their philanthropic donations in the city.

On a side not there are almost 50 posts on this article alone. Has anyone written an e-mail or called their council member to let them know how they feel?

LouisTully
LouisTully

This is about the third time I've said something on multiple articles; and I've seen others with similar comments; and travelerrr even opened the commenting on the topic. And I haven't seen a single response answering.

What is the purpose of the land transfer? Why does the land need to be transferred to ECHDC? Why can't the city lease/ sell outright? Everyone is yelling and complaining "just do it", "give them what they want". Fine, give it to them. No one disputing the land transfer is saying not to give them the land. But why is the land transfer to ECHDC necessary and if the ECHDC wants it so bad why don't they give in and agree to the living wage agreement?

LouisTully
LouisTully

Dropping multiple F-bombs in a censored blog and insulting other commenters in such a way is quite eloquent. Good way to get your message across.

Gardner
Gardner

First, I would like to know what the Common Council thinks the city gains by holding on to this land? The block sits in the middle of land that is currently controlled by the ECHDC. From a development standpoint, why would an interested entity want to go through City government, it's archaic processes and ridiculous politics to develop here when there are many other cities that would welcome development?

While not everyone may agree with Quinn and the ECHDC approach, they have done more in the last 5-7 years than most of us have seen in our lifetimes.... transferring the land helps streamline development efforts by taking city politicians out of the mix and making more attractive to potential investors.

On the other hand, maybe the council has it right! Why would we give up all that surface parking lot and all that revenue? Lord knows that is a scarce resource downtown.

As for HSBC, they do not have to approach every elected official to tell them of their plans/needs..... If they truly have had conversations with the Mayor, ECHDC and the Majority Leader, that really should be enough. For those bashing HSBC, it could be that they want to be part of a unique development opportunity and gain state of the art offices for their employees and clients.

Someone from the council that opposes this really needs to outline the benefits of the city holding this land rather than transferring to the publicly help corporation that has actually made some progress in the area....

Steve
Steve

Living here for 3 years now I can see why the city has become a shadow of it's former self. The state and obstructionists may drive me back out of town as well, even though I love it so. It's just so frustrating...everything has to be a major deal...in most places transactions happen seamlessly, the public doesn't have an outcry every time something is proposed....a lot of cities would be thrilled to have the opportunities Buffalo and WNY has been presented with the past couple years, but here people chase it all away. It's not like we can afford to, people...we're no NYC. We need to be thankful and embrace any development that's willing to take place in a dying, doomed area.

biniszkiewicz
biniszkiewicz

"If they want a grassy area so bad, then why do they live in a city?" Seriously? Just because we like urban areas means we don't like parks, too? Huh?

Where are all these underutilized parks of which you speak? Plenty of baseball games go on at LaSalle and Front Park (which are not downtown, and I don't want baseball diamonds downtown). Delaware is pretty damned busy, but maybe you never noticed. MLK park gets lots of use. Pocket parks are busy downtown (Lafayette, Cathedral, marina). Evidently people who enjoy the urban core also enjoy those postage stamp parks.

Because you live in an urban area, green space is some undesirable emptiness? Really? Tell that to Chicagoans: they should develop their waterfront into more buildings. What a waste that waterfront is! Manhattan has plenty more parks than just Central Park. Most cities I visit have copious park space. In fact, if you live in a central city core, then green space is all the more a necessary amenity, since your condo or apartment has little or none. If we want more people to live downtown, it will not only be to look at all the buildings. People living in concrete towers need nature, too. That's why so many cities have so many parks.

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