Bass-Pro the best deal in town
With all the rich history in the City of Buffalo, why is it that Bass-Pro, a privately held sports equipment and outdoor recreation goods company with roots in the mid-west is the major tenant of the Canal Side project? It’s more germane to Missouri than Buffalo as the founder John L. Morris started the business behind a liquor store his dad owned where he sold his bait and worms that became so popular Bass-Pro incorporated in 1972 and a few years later commenced a mail order business because folks just couldn’t get enough of the worms and home-made bait.
Why not Doug’s Dive instead? It has a liquor background as well a sleazy underground tavern on Commercial Street just below the street level along the towpath of the Erie Canal believed to harbor slaves heading to Canada on the underground rail road.
What is Morris getting here? For starters, they get subsidies and incentives from the City of Buffalo, Erie County and the State of New York, starting with a hand-out of $35 to $90 million for developing a mega facility a monstrosity edifice requiring an inordinate amount of square footage and lots of land to build it. And they are exempt from paying State sales tax, but the sweet part of the deal is they get to pay only $1 rent annually for twenty years!
Yet, to further entice Bass-Pro who regrettably has contributed little if any funds to the project, there is the controversial parking ramp and carte blanche usage of the marina. Yes, they get all the freebies just creating less than 1,600 low-wage retail jobs. Overseeing the Canal Side Development Project is the Erie County Harbor Development Corporation with a budget of $294 million.
Citizens of Buffalo have come together to protest the Canal Side project, starting with the Campaign for Greater Buffalo concerned that” the designed guidelines written in such a way anything is allowed to happen” and overriding local zoning laws the greatest culprit. The other group, the Coalition for Economic Justice is concerned with a living wage and for binding agreements on sustainability. While the Marine Drive Residents Council have objected to the design of the parking ramp, a six-story above and 3-level beneath for Bass-Pro. And the Buffalo Common Council voted on a Community Benefits Agreement resolution.
Also, there are the rich and powerful citizens of Buffalo Bob and Mindy Rich allegedly neighbors in Florida of Bass-Pro mogul John Morris winners of his Islamorada Fishing Club Cup and Bass-Pro’s gateway to Buffalo.