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It's easy to get swept up in "Pegulaville" talk.
There are fancy conceptual drawings, talk of $123 million in construction, plans for two ice rinks, a hotel, shops and more.
I'm rooting for Terry and Kim Pegula to successfully turn what is now a city-owned parking lot in front of First Niagara Center into a fabulous downtown development.
They've given no reason to doubt they will.
But it's too early to gush over the city's announcement that it has chosen the Pegulas' HARBORcenter Development plan for the 1.7-acre paved lot at Main and Scott streets.
If there is one thing we've learned from the city's failed promises, it's this: Now is not the time for champagne. It's just the start of the hard work.
The task for the mayor now is to get the details in writing - and not to celebrate until the first puck is dropped on the ice.
We've been disenchanted by developers with deep pockets - or, in one case, illusionary deep pockets - in this very same neighborhood before.
Cordish. Adelphia. Bass Pro.
Those weren't just failed dreams for waterfront development. They're lessons to look back on as officials solidify a deal to sell the Webster Block.
Buffalo has emerged from those failures a stronger, better city. Disappointment has evolved into a healthy sense of skepticism. We're no longer fixated on the silver-bullet strategy.
This project, unlike those from a decade ago, is not the only catalyst for the harbor. It's one piece in a waterfront puzzle that is finally fitting together.
It was refreshing to see proposals for the publicly owned land that didn't demand large subsidies to put a shovel in the ground.
It was also refreshing to see a written framework for a deal - signed by both parties, but not yet a legal obligation - that discusses protections for the city in the form of a performance bond and the right to take back the property if the project falls apart before construction is complete.
But how those details are solidified in a legally binding contract could make the difference between a success story and a project that gets tangled in the same old squabbles.
Clear expectations with clear goals and clear consequences for failing to live up to expectations would go a long way in protecting both sides in this deal.
Officials will also have to carefully consider exactly what types of tax breaks are awarded. The Sabres expect to seek a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes plan - a development incentive that phases in sales or property taxes over time.
Other downtown projects, including the nearby Donovan Building, are benefiting from those types of arrangements, but there is also an ongoing debate about whether it's a good idea to give tax breaks to hotels.
Adding the ice rinks will make this a potentially unique project that could draw hockey tournaments and other events to the city, but granting tax breaks to new hotels while denying them for older ones is like only running the Zamboni machine on half the ice before game time.
We know Pegula has had success in the natural gas business. We've seen him pour his heart into the Sabres. What we don't know yet is how that will translate into the entertainment and hospitality industry.
"Trust us" doesn't cut it anymore.

email: djgee@buffnews.com