Public given more time to look at new plans for Freezer Queen plant site

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Transforming the Freezer Queen site may take longer than expected now that the developer has changed his plans.

“It’s the Buffalo waterfront, it hasn’t been developed in many, many years and I’m sure everyone wants to get it right,” said Buchheit.

The original idea was to renovate the existing building. It may now be torn down to make way for a high-rise apartment complex.

Developer Gerry Buchheit presented the new idea to the Planning Board on Monday. He said structural issues with the old plant concerned him enough to go back to the drawing board.

He showed News 4 revised renderings which have elevated plans for the old Freezer Queen plant.

Buchheit wants to demolish the building and construct a 23-story apartment complex with 197 one-bedroom and two-bedroom units.

Balconies will overlook Buffalo’s Outer Harbor. There will also be a restaurant on both the first and fifth floors, which will be open to the public. A three-story parking garage will feature rooftop green space and tennis courts.

“I’ve lived in Buffalo my whole life and I want to make a mark here,” said Buchheit. “I think this is the best use of the land.”

It’s a big change from July when he told News 4 he wanted to transform the existing building into more than 100 luxury apartments.

“I started spending money on engineering and found we just couldn’t make it happen,” he said. “We tried every possible way to make it happen and spent a lot of money on research.”

Buchheit said they also discovered the bottom level floods in bad weather. His team told the Planning Board that the building sits about three feet below the floodplain.

“We’ve got concerns about the structure under the building, that it will not do what we want it to do,” said Buchheit. “Plus, the fact we have to build it up considerably so that in the worst of the weather it’s not under water.”

Some Buffalo residents are opposed to the new plans.

“One problem is the building is ridiculous,” said Daniel Sack, the vice president of Campaign for a Greater Buffalo. “The nearest tall building to this is the Cargill Pool elevator, which is about half of the height this proposed building.”

He said the height creates environmental concerns.

“Hundreds of thousands of birds cross this path and everybody knows what happens with birds and windows,” said Sack.

He told News 4 he would like to see the original building preserved.

Local lawyer Arthur Giacalone spoke up and questioned if the property is correctly zoned and asked a full environmental assessment be submitted.

The Planning Board requested proof of zoning before it moves forward.

Buchheit’s team asked the Planning Board on Monday to extend the public hearing to give people time to look at the new renderings. The Planning Board agreed so it will be at least a few weeks before it moves forward. The next meeting is April 18.

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