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Harbor Center Sheds Light on Retail Plan

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - With two ice rinks, a hotel, a massive sports bar, and other features, we've known for some time what the majority of Harbor Center will hold. On Thursday a little light was shed on the final piece of the puzzle, retail.

About 10,000 square feet of retail space will be available by the year's end, and as much as 20,000 more could be added in the next several years.

What kind of retail should people expect?

"We're trying to determine, and I couldn't even give you a preferred list," said Harbor Center President John Koelmel. "Frankly that's what we're looking for, vendors to peak our interest and how we can optimize the guest and visitor experience."

Koelmel said that he isn't just looking to get the highest rate for the space, but find the right fit for the building. He also knows that about 10,000 square feet doesn't quite equal a destination. "Terry and Kim (Pegula) are very committed to providing leadership in creating a real destination for Canalside," Koelmel said.

In the future the Sabres plan to add additional storefronts along the Main Street side of First Niagara Center, which currently holds different offices. The move would extend retail presence to the southern edge of Canalside.

"Five or ten thousand square feet of retail isn't the solution by any means. We've been trying to explore different expandable ideas, and a Mercantile Exchange concept, whether we expand it down Main Street or we go elsewhere gives us a great opportunity to bring other vendors and create a real destination experience."

The Sabres also gave reporters a tour of the inside of Harbor Center two months before doors open.

Even though the walls look bare, Project Superintendent Ryan Poropat says he has no doubts the project will be ready for opening day.

"Take a look back at the pictures and what's been done in just the last two months alone. From where we were two months ago, from this point forward it's absolutely achievable and realistic that without a doubt we'll make that deadline," Poropat said.

Harbor Center is expected to open near the end of October.

Filed Under :  
Locations : BuffaloCanalside District
People : John R. Koelmel
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