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7/29/2014 4:37:32 PM

The Buffalo News: State buys 96 more acres for RiverBend projects

The Buffalo News

The state agency overseeing the planned solar-energy and high-tech hub at Riverbend has agreed to buy the remaining 96 acres of property from the city of Buffalo for $2.8 million, state officials announced today.

The new purchase adds to the 88 acres of land that the state already bought from the Buffalo Urban Development Corp. in May for $2.5 million. The city had acquired the former brownfield property in 2008 for $4.6 million.

“We’re really hitting our stride in Buffalo and Western New York thanks to Governor Cuomo’s continued focus on attracting the right mix of investment and job creation from private companies who see the benefit of doing business here,” Howard Zemsky, co-chairman of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, said in a statement. “Acquiring this additional acreage at RiverBend will further strengthen our ability to maintain the momentum that Governor Cuomo’s policies have created.”

Cuomo announced plans to develop the former steel manufacturing property at Riverbend into the proposed Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub, housing technology, clean-energy and biotechnology companies as part of an economic development initiative to create new jobs.

Under the proposal, the state will invest $225 million to create infrastructure at the site, including water, sewer and utility connections, roads and new facilities that will be owned by the state through the SUNY Research Foundation. Initial plans had called for a 275,000-square-foot facility to house two California companies, Soraa and Silevo, as the first two tenants, while other facilities would be constructed over time as new manufacturing tenants were brought in. But with Silevo’s acquisition by Solar City, those plans are now changing to feature a much larger facility just for Silevo.

The state will also purchase and own equipment that the companies will use, while local colleges and universities will also have access to the facilities, equipment and partnerships. No direct state funding will go to any companies.

“RiverBend is at the forefront of a development boom that has literally transformed Buffalo, and tech companies from across the country and around the world have taken notice,” Cuomo said. “Finalizing this purchase agreement will ensure that RiverBend is prepared to capitalize on this interest and add to the high tech movement that is taking hold in Western New York. Today, Buffalo truly is on the move.”

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