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A construction start in the spring is planned by Wegmans Food Markets Inc. for a 222,000-square-foot shopping center on Walden Avenue at the Thruway in Cheektowaga, which is to include a Pier 1 Imports store and the first Buffalo-area branch of the Olive Garden restaurant chain.

Demolition of the former Sorrento Express Inc. building, once a Twin Fair discount store, is nearly finished on the 24.5-acre project site, just across Walden Avenue from the Walden Galleria.

Pier 1 Imports will occupy 10,000 square feet. The Olive Garden, a chain owned by General Mills and specializing in Italian foods, will lease 9,100 square feet.

The Wegmans market will be about 100,000 square feet, and Wegmans' Chase Pitkin household equipment chain will open a 82,500-square foot store, its first in Western New York.

Plans filed with the town also call for a 3,600-square-foot bank branch and an additional 17,000 square feet to be leased.

Wegmans has agreed to provide major road improvements near the project site, including rebuilding and widening Duke Road for a third of a mile just south of Walden Avenue. The Town Board approved plans for the Duke Road project this week.

The board also approved plans for:

Construction of two new parking areas serving the Walden Galleria, one east of the mall near McKesson Parkway, another south of Galleria Drive, east of the post office.

The site east of the post office, and another area north of Galleria Drive near Fath Drive, will be used for parking by employees of Galleria stores.

A proposed 8,700-square-foot building to be occupied by Rick's Hardware Store, now in the Airport Plaza, on a site on the west side of Union Road south of Genesee Street, sharing parking with C.J.'s Midtown Grill.

No rezoning would be required. A previous plan requiring rezoning encountered opposition from nearby residents.

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