WIVB.com (US), September 16, 2009
City donates space to Keanu Reeves film
by Mylous Hairston
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - One day after the primaries, the board of the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corporation met Wednesday afternoon.
It's the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corporation's first meeting in weeks.
Its interim president says the agency has taken steps to change the way it operates.
"The transparency of this company over the last 60 days had to be apparent to everyone," said Dennis Penman, Interim President of BERC.
BERC has come under fire in recent months for the $160,000 in public money shelled out to Leonard Stokes and his failed One Sunset Restaurant and Bar on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo.
Michelle Barron, the agency's former Vice President of neighborhood services, was fired for her role in helping Stokes get public money.
The City Comptroller is doing an audit. BERC's interim president says there are tighter controls on the dollars.
Penman said, "It would be impossible for an employee of the company without board approval to authorize any lending activity."
Perhaps the most interesting news to come out of the meeting, Keanu Reeves and his film crew may be spending more time here in western New York utilizing some unoccupied space in the Market Arcade.
Reeves is in the area scouting locations for the movie "Henry's Crime."
Penman said, "They were interested in office space for the operation of the movie at the Market Arcade building, which we acknowledged they could have and they had some wardrobe issues relative to storage and cleaning and they thought one of the apartments we have would be appropriate for that use."
The city is donating the office space and apartment to keep Reeves' film crew in town for pre-production work on the movie.
Leaders say there's a payoff for the city because the production crew of about 50 people will stay in local hotels and spend money at area businesses.